Seattle Sounders Battle Chivas USA In U.S. Open Cup Action

Bill HareCorrespondent IAugust 31, 2010

Seattle star striker Fredy Montero was named MLS Player of the Week Monday.
Seattle star striker Fredy Montero was named MLS Player of the Week Monday.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Sounders are pitted against Chivas USA in a sold-out U.S. Open Cup semifinal at Starfire Sports Stadium with first kick at 7:30 p.m.

Last year Seattle Sounders FC garnered the U.S. Open Cup.  When the Rave Green takes the pitch Wednesday night in Tukwila, Washington it will be with an eye toward repeating last year’s feat.

The scene then shifts 2,500 miles to the east and Foxborough, Massachusetts on Saturday when Seattle faces the New England Revolution at 4:30 p.m. PT.

Over the past two months since beginning Open Cup play, Sounders FC (9-8-5, 32 points in league; 11-10-7 overall) has been on domestic tear, losing only once in 10 games.

If it can advance past Chivas USA (6-11-4, 22 points), Seattle will host the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final on October 5 on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field. The Columbus Crew and D.C. United meet in Wednesday's other semifinal.

The Rave Green are cup holders but have yet to score a goal in four MLS meetings with Chivas USA, which defeated D.C. United 1-0 at home on Sunday to snap a three game losing string. Seattle will face Chivas USA again in its final regular season home game  October 15.

After coming from behind to beat the Chicago Fire 2-1 at home last week, the Sounders ride a franchise best seven-game unbeaten (5-0-2) streak into New England. The 3-0 win over the Revolution June 5 matched the biggest victory margin for the club. The Revs (6-12-3, 21 points) have lost three in a row but are 5-4-2 at home. They host Monarcas Morelia in the SuperLiga final on Wednesday.

Seattle's surge to begin the second half of the season has propelled it into the second of four wild card slots. Eight teams qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs.  The survivors include the first two teams in each division and those with the next four best point totals.

The Sounders announced Monday that the Gambia National Team has called in midfielder Sanna Nyassi for Saturday's African Cup of Nations qualifier with Namibia in Banjul, Gambia.

Nyassi will miss the matches against Chivas USA and the New England Revolution.  He will return to Seattle September 6.

It was also announced Monday that Sounders forward Fredy Montero was voted Major League Soccer Player of the Week by the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) for Week 22 of the 2010 MLS season. Montero scored the first goal against the Chicago Fire to tie the game at 1-1 in the 36th minute. His second strike came in second half stoppage time to give the Sounders a 2-1 victory.

This marks Montero’s second Player of the Week award. Montero also captured the Player of the Month award for July and has led Sounders FC to an unbeaten 5-0-2 record in league play. He has five goals and three assists in that stretch.

Following Tuesday’s workout in Tukwila Coach Sigi Schmid talked about the upcoming match with Chivas USA as well as other subjects.

“It’s a different Chivas under Preki versus a Chivas under Martin Vasquez,” Schmid said. “We have played against Martin Vasquez’s team once and that’s the team we are preparing for. I thought we possessed the ball alright in the game down in L.A.

“We didn’t get a goal and neither did they. So it was just one of those things. Against Preki’s team, just like Preki’s teams in Toronto, they end up getting a little piece of you, they foul you, they break up the rhythm of the game to make it difficult to play. We have got to do better against that type of team. Chivas under Martin doesn’t play like that.”

On the subject of selecting a lineup for Wednesday‘s match, Schmid related, “If we think a guy is ready, we are going to play him. We are looking at situations, ‘Oh, OK. This guy has done well at training. It’s pretty close between these two guys. So maybe this guy has got a knock or is a little bit fatigued so we are going to make a change there.’ But in general, we are going to try and play the guys who are ready and able and healthy and well and it’s going to be our best team that we put out there.”

Schmid went on from there to discuss what Chivas USA is likely to do regarding lineup selections as well as motivation:

“Yeah, I think they will do the same thing. . . .  This for them is big. It’s an opportunity for them to get a trophy … So this is a game that I think is very important. I think you can expect them pretty much bringing their starting lineup.

“I heard that [Osael] Romero, who got called into El Salvador, is not going in until after our game. So obviously they want to have all hands on deck. . . . Certainly a team like them who, in their history, hasn’t won a trophy at this stage to be in the semifinal they are going to be a hungry team. It’s going to come from the front office on down, ‘This is a chance. We are in the semifinal. We are one game away from getting to the final. We are two games away from having the trophy.’ So they are going to be a hungry team.”

Coach Schmid also commented on Nyassi’s opportunity with the Gambian National Team:

“It’s great for him. It’s a good reward. And certainly how he has played late he deserves it. He’s got an opportunity to play in qualifying games for the Africa Nations Cup and those are important games for their countries.

“We are happy for him. We are missing him. We could use him here. He always plays well on this particular field, playing here at Starfire. For him, I think it’s a great reward and for him to put himself back into the picture there is good.”