I frequently refer to certain trophies as "majors" and others as "minors." I always build up the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as a major trophy that just doesn't get the respect it deserves. It is a slot into the CONCACAF Champions League. The winner can call themselves the U.S. Champion. Those things are a big deal.
There are also indications that it is a minor cup. The rosters trotted out are piecemeal and reserve laden. When MLS teams host, they often play in minor league or college stadiums (DC United at George Mason, Sounders at Starfire). It is rare to even find an online stream of the games, let alone radio or TV coverage. (Sounders stream at gametime.)
It is a Cup that is half-minor/half-major and yet is everything that is beautiful about the NCAA tournament, or the Open in Golf. There are underdogs in semi-pro leagues that make runs. Mid-majors make the finals (Alonso's Battery in 2008). Yet, it's always an MLS team that wins it (chill Rochester fan, I know). This is the trophy the Sounders are most likely to win.
They just have to beat the team that has handled them 4-nil and 3-1 in league player already - the Los Angeles Galaxy.
There is a bright spot here. You won't see Landon Donovan on that new Starfire Field Turf. You probably won't see Buddle or Ricketts, either. Likely none of the old-time regulars will start. The problem is that the Galaxy have those three Brazilians and the last two Rookies of the Year as youth. That's a hell of a core, and they are doing quite well by it.
Seattle's lineup will be all whack-a-doodle as well. Likely playing with a flat four in a very old-school 4-4-2 the Sounders should be able to transition from defense to attack faster tonight than they have in league play. They will also have more speed both on the ball and off on the pitch than in a typical match.
KEYS TO GAME
All for Naught - It is win or go home. Every single minute is one less minute to score. One less minute to lead. Strong impressions now can lead to more playing time later in more "prestigious" matches. There is no reason for any player to save their energy tonight.
Direct Play - Starfire is a little more narrow. This leads to direct play, and that's fine with this bunch, but we must see central primary, secondary and tertiary runs. The ball will be dumped into 6 yard box quite a bit. Collect the slop and knock it in. This is not the tourney for pretty soccer. This is the time for wins in an intimate setting.
Flat Four - With Central Midfielders who can go both ways, there is unlikely to be a stopper. By playing a flat four Seattle can provide the help from the Fullbacks. If they get forward too much on this pitch the Galaxy counter will be right over their heads.
This game will be streamed by Seattle Sounders
Major Trophies - MLS Cup, Supporters Shield, Open Cup, CCL, Club World Cup
Minor Trophies - SuperLiga, any preseason tourney, any rivalry cup, Conference Championships
There will be a gamethread. There will be a review.