US Open Cup

Match Preview: Seattle Sounders return to U.S. Open Cup play at Real Salt Lake

The Seattle Sounders return to action on Tuesday night in the Round of 16 of the U.S. Open Cup, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious club soccer tournament. The Sounders are on the road at Real Salt Lake with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line.



WHEN AND WHERE: Kickoff is Tuesday at 7 p.m. PT at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.


WHERE TO WATCH: Although the game will not be televised, a live stream is available on SoundersFC.com.


WHERE TO LISTEN: The game will be aired on KIRO 97.3 FM in English and on El Rey 1360AM in Spanish.


HOW THEY GOT HERE: The Sounders opened USOC play earlier this month with a 2-0 win over local PDL side Kitsap Pumas. Midfielder Cristian Roldan scored his first career goal with the Sounders in the win. RSL had a bit more trouble with USL side Wilmington Hammerheads FC in their win, playing to a 2-2 draw in regulation before ultimately advancing on penalties. This match is the result of the USOC draw last month.


ALL-TIME HISTORY: The Sounders and RSL have only meet once before in the USOC, way back in a play-in game in 2009. The Sounders won 4-1 in the back of former player Sebastien LeToux, who scored two goals and added an assist at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila. The Sounders are 6-8-4 all-time against RSL in the MLS regular season, and 2-1-1 in the postseason.


WE MEET AGAIN: The Sounders and RSL have already met once this season in MLS play, with RSL rallying for a 2-1 win at Rio Tinto on March 12. Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso scored a rare goal to give the Sounders an early lead, but RSL rallied and ultimately won on a header from veteran defender Jamison Olave in the 86th minute.


THE RIOT HOUSE: RSL have long built their reputation as one of the toughest teams to beat at home, and they’ve been nearly perfect there this season. Head coach Jeff Cassar’s men are 5-0-1 in MLS play at Rio Tinto this year after a 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls on June 22. The Sounders are 1-6-2 all-time at Rio Tinto in the MLS regular season, but snatched a historic win there in the 2012 Western Conference semifinals. RSL are 8-2-0 at home all-time in the USOC.


ROAD WARRIORS: The Sounders have consistently thrived over the years in the USOC, largely because of a home field advantage at Starfire Stadium few teams can match. They’ve been almost as good on the road, surprisingly, boasting a 5-2 record away from Seattle, including wins in Washington, D.C. (2009) and Philadelphia (2014) to capture the USOC crown. This MLS season, however, has been a big tougher, with just one win in seven games away from the Emerald City (1-5-1).


LINEUP QUESTIONS: The early rounds of USOC always pose a challenge for MLS squads looking to balance the rigors of the tournament and the ongoing regular season. Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid has been here many times before and recently said he expects to approach this USOC with a similar approach to years past, which means a mix of established starters and second-tier players at RSL. It likely won’t be a first-choice lineup with a tough match at Toronto looming on Saturday.


BACK IN PLAY: Schmid and captain Brad Evans both served one-game suspensions in the team’s win over Kitsap, so Schmid will return to the bench and Evans will be available to play if needed. Clint Dempsey, however, is still suspended and likely wouldn’t have featured anyway after wrapping up the Copa America Centenario with the U.S. national team.


SHORT REST: Both the Sounders and RSL come into the game just 72 hours after suiting up in league play, and both are nursing their wounds from the weekend. The Sounders lost 2-0 to NYCFC at home and RSL lost 2-0 on the road at FC Dallas, their first loss in four games.


CHARACTER QUESTIONS: The biggest storyline in Seattle soccer this week is Saturday’s postgame comments from Evans, who questioned the team’s complacency after a second straight loss at home. The USOC has been known to galvanize a team and resurrect a season before, and the Sounders have always valued the tournament as much as or more than any other MLS club. Will the result on Tuesday night help steer the season back on track, or are the Sounders in for an early exit in the tournament that helped define their identity?

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