The Seattle Sounders returned to training Monday after a disappointing 2-1 loss to the Montreal Impact last Wednesday. Looking to alter their recent run of form, the team has set their sights on a strong showing in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, when they’ll host the Portland Timbers at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma.
“We’re a proud franchise," Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said. "We want to put our best possible team out there. We have an advantage because we’re at home. Some of the guys that might feature in the game play [at Cheney Stadium] consistently.”
Between the recent road losses and upcoming match against a bitter rival, the players are motivated for Wednesday, viewing the USOC fixture as an opportunity to put on a show for supporters.
“Rivalry games are always important,” said defender Brad Smith, fresh off his recent involvement with the Australian national team. “You need to show what you’re about, and we need to get the win. We’ve had a few tough matches away from home, and it’s sort of a home game for us. So, we’re looking to do well and hopefully get a good result, which will feed into the league and the next game at home against Vancouver.”
The current international break presents a bittersweet opportunity for Seattle. Given the lengthy break from MLS competition, the team can field a strong lineup without being concerned about fixture congestion.
The flip side, however, is that nine players are currently away with their national teams in various competitions.
With that in mind, the lineup on Wednesday will be a blend of experienced First Team players and youngsters from the youth system looking to earn an MLS contract.
“We have young players that are keen on getting a chance, getting a taste, getting an opportunity,” added Schmetzer. “The guys that we put out there – the senior players that are still here and not on international duty – they’ll think of it the same way. They’re using these games as opportunities. They know the internationals are gone, this is a time for them to build momentum and show the coaching staff what they can do.”
“I’m excited to see Danny play,” said Smith. “Hopefully he gets the start. I didn’t see him when he came on in Montreal, so it will be good to see what he’s about. He’s a very good player and I’m excited to watch him in the game, hopefully.”
The Sounders will return to MLS action on June 29, when they host another Cascadia rival, the Vancouver Whitecaps, at CenturyLink Field (TICKETS).