After finally getting the Galaxy back and beating them 2-0 at Starfire, the Sounders booked a semifinal ticket on September 1st against Chivas USA, who beat Houston 3-1 in an empty stadium. The Sounders redeemed themselves for their 0-2 MLS record against the league leaders this season, although it was against an older reserve side.
If you're wondering what happened and just how exactly we won, well, I don't have a reasonable answer. I'm stumped really as to the team that Bruce Arena sent out here, because I was actually expecting both sides to take the fixture a little more seriously. Maybe that's just me, since I feel like I'm the only one who actually recognizes the value of the US Open Cup. Of all the competitions in U.S. soccer, it gives the Sounders the best bang for the buck, both in terms of variety of competition and actual wins.
It's obvious that the coaches' mentality of Open Cup play is not at the same level as MLS or Champions League, but you can see that there's a commitment to using it as an opportunity for non-starters and youth prospects. Sigi is very loyal when it comes to giving his non-starters a role to fill. Roger Levesque is the best example of a pure Open Cup beast; he hardly sees playing time during the season but anytime he's on the field in the Open Cup, he plays like he owns it and always manages to influence the game. Which is great, because it gives me the feeling that we might actually have depth in our squad. Now, whether that depth translates into the MLS season remains to be seen, at least not like the Galaxy have shown in the absence of Donovan and Buddle. But, we have seen flashes here and there, with Montano and Seamon who are both straddling the line between effective MLS backup and a Levesque-ish USOC/friendly role player. Which role they choose obviously depends on their training and development, but it would be fantastic of Sigi could culture them into all-competition role players. We desperately need players who can be effective at any time. A true impact player who has that young spark that can change the game. For example, if we know towards the end of the season that we possess that kind of secret weapon on our bench, whether it's Montano or Seamon, that would do infinite wonders for our confidence and ability to stay competitive when teams start to dry out.
What got me thinking about all of this is the fact that Bruce Arena started 4 players over the age of 33, while keeper Saunders is 29. Meanwhile, Sigi put Nate Jaqua out on the field again, as if to test whether or not he's ready. Now, Jaqua's been out long enough, but you can bet he's itching to break through and help out with our scoring issues. However, we've got 3 forwards (Montero, Noonan, Zakuani) as well as Blaise on the way. So do we ditch Noonan and/or Montero for Jaqua and work Blaise into the system, or do we leave Jaqua alongside Levesque to carry our USOC form?
In any case, the semi against Chivas is not until September 1st, so we've got plenty of time to answer these questions. Our most immediate opportunity is this Sunday against Dallas at Qwest 7:30PM.
Seattle has been playing itself as a great Open Cup team, which a lot of people underestimate given our rich history in the tournament. However, this season has been a trying one, and I think we would need at least a USOC finals appearance in order for this season to not be disappointing. I'm happy that we're currently still on track to achieve this.
SEA – Nate Jaqua 2 (Unassisted) 50’
SEA – Nate Jaqua 3 (Miguel Montano 1) 62’
LA Galaxy: Josh Saunders; A.J. DeLaGarza, Leonardo (Sean Franklin 71’), Omar Gonzalez, Eddie Lewis; Chris Klein© (Dema Kovalenko 69’), Bryan Jordan, Jovan Kirovski (Juninho 72’), Alex Cazumba; Clint Mathis, Alan Gordon.
Subs Not Used: Donovan Ricketts, Todd Dunivant, Michael Stephens, Tristan Bowen.
Seattle Sounders FC: Terry Boss; Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Tyson Wahl; Sanna Nyassi, Nathan Sturgis, Mike Seamon (James Riley 78’), Miguel Montano (Leo Gonzalez 71’); Roger Levesque, Nate Jaqua© (David Estrada 86’).
Subs Not Used: Kasey Keller, Steve Zakuani, Pat Noonan, Fredy Montero.