Crew, Sounders seeking second U.S. Open Cup title

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By JOSE M. ROMERO

The Columbus Crew just punched its ticket to the MLS playoffs. The Seattle Sounders are close to doing the same. 

Tonight at Qwest Field, however, the MLS season and its playoff picture will take a back seat to something that means a great deal to both clubs, the 2010 U.S. Open Cup Final (10pm, Fox Soccer Channel).

The tournament and trophy are named for its original owner, and the Columbus Crew can add a second Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship to its list of achievements. The second-year Sounders, on the other hand, can become only the second team since 1983 to win back-to-back Open Cup titles. 

Seattle completed a thrilling run to the championship in 2009, reveling in a 2-1 win over D.C. United at RFK Stadium on Sept. 2. It was a wild night for the team and its fans, as players passed the trophy around and celebrated with a few hundred diehards who'd made the trip back East to see the final. At one point the Cup stood by itself on the floor of the Sounders' locker room being sprayed by flying champagne.  

That was then. In the here and now, the storylines are plentiful between Columbus and Seattle in the 97th U.S. Open Cup final. 

1. This year's final will set a new attendance record for the championship game of the tourney, as close to 30,000 fans are expected. As of Monday afternoon, 28,800 tickets had been sold. 

2. Seattle gets to host this year after it lost its bid to host the final last year in a more fun than serious barb-trading episode between DC United president Kevin Payne and Sounders GM/minority owner Adrian Hanauer. This year, the Sounders don't have a Mariners baseball game to contend with on the same night as the final, since the baseball regular season is over. 

"We were definitely disappointed last year that the final was in D.C. and not in Seattle," Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller told the Seattle Times. "We've wanted to get back to this final and to have it at Qwest in front of our fans." 

3. Seattle coach Sigi Schmid has faced his former assistant in Columbus, now Crew head coach Robert Warzycha, in regular-season matches. This time, the two friends go at it for hardware.

4. Warzycha, as a player for the Crew, helped hand Schmid a loss in the 2002 Open Cup final, when the Crew defeated Schmid's L.A. Galaxy. Schmid was seeking a repeat Open Cup title that year, just as he is in 2010.

The Sounders have to be considered the favorites. They're 10-1-3 in their last 14 non-CONCACAF Champions League games, including U.S. Open Cup matches, and unbeaten at Qwest Field in the past eight. They also won 4-0 at Crew Stadium last month in a regular-season match between the two teams. What's more, the home team is 9-3 in Open Cup finals since MLS teams joined the tournament in 1996.

"We know it's going to be loud and a tough place to play," Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer told the club website. "But it's a chance to win a championship. That's why we play these games."

The Crew knows more about big games than do the Sounders. Columbus has won an MLS championship, an Open Cup title and three Supporters Shields. It figures to look toward overall scoring leader Guillermo Barros Schelotto for offense, while Steven Lenhart and Andy Iro have two goals in Open Cup play this season.

The Sounders will be looking for Nate Jaqua on the attack. Jaqua has five goals in three U.S. Open Cup matches this year. Fredy Montero is the team's MLS leader in goals with 10, though he hasn't put one in the back of the net since Aug. 28.

"He's a goal scorer, he'll get his goals in the future and if he saves them all for the Open Cup and the playoffs, I'm okay with that too," Schmid said of Montero.

"Both teams have plenty of incentive," the Crew's Frankie Hejduk said in an MLS web site video. "So it's going to be a chippy and fun final to watch and fun final to be a part of."

Part of that incentive is the $100,000 in prize money for the winner, even though the runner-up gets $50,000.

Who do you think will win the U.S. Open Cup championship, Columbus or Seattle? Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in MLS- Columbus Crew, MLS- Seattle Sounders, U.S. Open Cup. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Crew, Sounders seeking second U.S. Open Cup title

  1. tnnelson says:

    hard to bet against the Sounders at home

  2. Oranje Mike says:

    I love USOC. So many great memories at Toyota Park in ’06. I’ll go with Seattle.

  3. Emerald_City_Jason says:

    Got tickets and great seats. Can’t wait.

    Without looking it up, though, I think Jose’s numbers for the Sounders are off: we might be 10-1-3 in our last fourteen “domestic” games, but not in games on “American soil.” We lost both at the Revs and hosting Monterrey, off the top of my head.

  4. Rooch says:

    Is this on tv anywhere tonight? Could be a great match and as a neutral, rooting for the sounders as I think they’ve brought a lot of positives to MLS.

  5. John says:

    FSC @ 10 pm eastern.

  6. Rooch says:

    Gracias.

  7. bmvaughn says:

    As a Sounders fan, scared what a loss could to for the momentum of the team going into the playoffs, but ultimately I expect a 2-1 win in AET.

  8. CJ says:

    Anyone know who puts up the $ for USOC? (It would be great if it was more than 100K)

    What amount do FA Cup winners receive?

  9. Thomas513 says:

    Today is the reason why we support. Win or lose, today we will be in the stands watching a cup final. I barely slept last night. SEATTLE! SOUNDERS!

  10. Lorenzo says:

    de nada!

  11. k says:

    I think Sounders 2-1 in a close well played game.

  12. Tom says:

    Was the final always going to in Seattle, or is always hosted by one of the teams in the final? Anyway, hard to bet against Seattle at home.

  13. TheUltra says:

    I’ll be cheering for the MASSIVE CLUB. Columbus ’til I Die!

  14. Hopper says:

    I’m glad I’ll be there because the game will look like garbage on FSC. Is there anyone here who actually gets FSC’s HD feed? Comcast still doesn’t have it.

    Go Sounders!

  15. CA says:

    Sounders 2-1. Go SEATTLE!!!

  16. Terry says:

    I’ve been getting it on Direct TV for a couple months now.

  17. Paul says:

    It is very strange to have a one-leg Final be a home match for one of the teams. Then again…no one really cares about this Cup, so it sort of makes sense to have it be a home match for someone.

  18. therick says:

    Crew….3-1. Stunner in Seattle.

  19. Emerald_City_Jason says:

    Yeah, it’s been on Dish since January or February, and DirecTv launched it on August 11. Comcast apparently has a contract with FSC that allows local Comcast branches to purchase FSCHD if they think it will be profitable. To my knowledge, no one at the local level has found the market worthwhile.

  20. The King of Norway says:

    There are rumors that the US Open Cup winner will no longer get a play-in to the CONCACAF Champions League. That would be unfortuante if true — the Open Cup deserves to be treated with respect, and a CCL berth is a fitting reward to the team that wins it. Ives, can you get to the bottom of this?

  21. Smith says:

    The Crew are on irreversible downward slide. Sounders will win & their fans will annoy everyone for months afterwards.

  22. Fred Garvin says:

    Coming form a Sounders fan.. this is gonna be the toughest game of the year. Cbus always comes to play here. We will see who’s the champ.

  23. Does anyone know what the winners check is for the Champs in CONCACAF Champions League?

  24. Scott A says:

    Well people are caring more and more. But agree that a neutral site wouldn’t work. I do think the site should be decided by something other than $. Or have it two-legged. Or something.

  25. Scott A says:

    Actually pretty excited for this game and not a supporter of either team.

  26. Roehl says:

    To be clear, the Crew didn’t so much punch their playoff ticket as the Red Bulls handed a ticket to them last weekend.

  27. RedLine55 says:

    good memory. that was such a fun time!

  28. RedLine55 says:

    A lot. I think the winners get 2m pounds, and the runners up get 1m pounds. But there is also a good deal of television revenue the clubs get the further they go, too. This Big Soccer forum may or may not be legitimate: link to bigsoccer.com

  29. Mike says:

    anyone have some live streams they know will work when the game starts?