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Sounders carry league form into Open Cup run, advance to semifinals

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The Seattle Sounders’ quest for a fifth U.S. Open Cup trophy continues.

The last time the Sounders made it to the semifinals of the tournament, they won it all. Now, Seattle is looking to do that again after defeating Sacramento Republic, 2-1, in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday night.

“They're coming together as a group… That wasn't an easy game,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “Semifinals [bound], I’m proud of it.”

The journey to get to this position was inevitable for the Rave Green; after collecting a five-game unbeaten streak in MLS play, the team has carried that fine form over into the Open Cup, resulting in the team’s victory at Heart Health Park.

“We're playing as a collective and guys have just been bringing a lot of fight and a lot of energy,” said forward Jordan Morris. “And we've been in tournament formats before, so we know how to win games.”

Josh Atencio heightened the Seattle side’s energy right away in the 16th minute after a mis-clearance landed the ball at the feet of the midfielder for him to rocket a volley into the back of the net.

“We knew we're gonna have to get one early to give us momentum,” said Atencio. “So, I felt like it really helped from a mental standpoint, knowing that we had to play the rest of the game with that lead.”

Then, it was Morris who extended the lead to two in the 31st minute from a counter-attack. The Mercer Island native managed to get a hold of a perfectly placed pass down the line from Reed Baker-Whiting, drive past Sacramento’s keeper, and place the ball far post.

Quick transitions have been a trend for the Rave Green as of late, benefitting the team when opposition becomes complacent or fails to react efficiently.

“It's one of many strengths that we have,” said Atencio. “With the front three that has a lot of speed with Jordan, Paul \[Rothrock\] and Reed, we can play aggressively… It definitely fell into the scouting report where we thought that was something that we can exploit on them.”

And with the group mindset of taking control of this tournament, the future is promising for the Rave Green as they move onto to the next round of Open Cup play.

“To kind of look at the different rounds that we've gone through so far, everyone's played a role,” said goalkeeper Andrew Thomas. “This is a collective fight and something that everyone should be proud of.”

The Sounders currently hold four titles in Open Cup competition, and are looking to become the only active club to win the tournament five times.

“We are serious about this competition,” said Schmetzer. “We understand the history of it.”

The Sounders will now turn their attention back to MLS regular season play as they visit Austin FC on July 13, but with the Sounders set to host the winners of the LAFC-New Mexico United match, in front of their home fans, the excitement is palpable.

“It’s going to be epic,” said Schmetzer.

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