Eight months after Sounders FC captured its fourth Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title, the tournament returns to Starfire Stadium this week.
S2 commences its first-ever Open Cup run on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. PT against PDL side Kitsap Pumas SC. Seattle’s new USL squad would advance to the Third Round with another victory at Starfire, where defender Nick Miele and his teammates are 5-0-0 so far in their inaugural season.
“We pride ourselves on winning at home. We want to do it for our fans, for the community and for ourselves,” Miele said on Monday. “I think when we step on that field, we know we’re playing for more than just ourselves. We’re playing for the name on the front of our shirt.
“I know the First Team has had tremendous success in this tournament, and I hope that we’re able to continue that success in the game on Wednesday and in further Rounds.”
Sounders FC claimed the Open Cup trophy in each of its first three seasons as an MLS team before losing in the 2012 final on penalty kicks. Last year, the club scored 15 goals and conceded just twice in its four Open Cup games at Starfire, including a 6-0 win over the Chicago Fire in the semifinal.
Counting S2’s unblemished start to this season, teams representing the Rave Green are 18-0-1 in competitive matches at the Tukwila complex since 2009. In the lone draw at Starfire, Sounders FC advanced past the San Jose Earthquakes via penalty kicks in last year’s Fifth Round.
Though most of them are new to the organization, the S2 players are aware of that perfect record and its magnitude. They say it doesn’t put pressure on them heading into Wednesday’s match.
“It’s more of an excitement,” Miele said. “[Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson] always stresses how important it is to get points at home. Not just coming away with one point, but coming away with three. We pride ourselves in that [Starfire] is a fortress. When teams come in here, they’re going to have to play exceptionally well to even get one point.”
This year’s Open Cup features a record-breaking 91 clubs. The First Team enters in the Fourth Round in June to begin its quest for a fifth title, which would be the most among MLS clubs.
S2 would not face the First Team until the final, as clubs with a shared-ownership affiliation are precluded from playing against each other before so.
“The Open Cup represents an opportunity for our young professional and Academy players to compete in one of the most prestigious competitions in U.S. soccer,” S2 General Manager Andrew Opatkiewicz said. “We're excited to join the historic tournament and believe this will be a great opportunity to get our young players even more meaningful, competitive minutes.”
Tickets for Wednesday’s match can be purchased here. Should S2 advance past Pumas SC, it would host either Portland Timbers 2 or the Michigan Bucks in the Third Round next week.