The Sounders nemesis comes to Starfire today. They visit the only place where they struggle against Seattle as the Los Angles Galaxy have dominated the Rave Green in league play. But, in the US Open Cup Seattle had a 2-0 victory last year. Sigi Schmid's men look to extend their semifinal appearance streak to 5 straight years across two different leagues.
While Los Angeles do not have league play this weekend, in fact they have a mere friendly versus Real Madrid. Seattle though has an important match against the Colorado Rapids. Entering this situation of lineup flux, and quests for a third US Open Cup we connect with LAGConfidential to talk about the upcoming game.
SaH: Arena historically hasn't taken non-MLS tourneys that seriously. What kind of lineup do you expect him to put out?
LAGConf: I expect a half and half line, with half starters and half bench players. I'm basing this off of the lineup Bruce used against the LA Blues. It had the regular back four (to an extent, with injuries and whatnot), but upfront were all from the reserve squad. When I asked Bruce on Saturday how much of a priority the US Open cup had, he said he wanted to win, plain and simple. Which is different from what he said about the friendly against Real Madrid, that was more of a song and dance answer, which is what you do when Real Madrid choses you to be a dance partner.
SaH: Who is a player not normally in MLS games that fans should pay attention to?
LAGConf: Bryan Jordan went from reserve squad midfielder to Galaxy defender against Chicago. He had a tough marking assignment but he held his own. I can see Bruce using him as a defensive midfielder on Wednesday, as I imagine much of the game strategy is going to revolve around defense and counters, as I don't see Beckham or Donovan playing on Wednesday.
SaH: 3 matches in 9 days versus the same team. is it too much?
LAGConf: And Donovan and Beckham will only play in one. I think the reserve league serves a great purpose, so two games against the same opponent (technically) isn't that big of a deal for me. In fact I think it makes things more interesting when we see the hybrid match on Wednesday. All of these players will have seen each other fairly recently, but not all in the same setting.
* * *
LAGConf: I saw on the bids for hosting the semi-final, Seattle would host that at Starfire as well, while the other teams were bidding to host in their home stadium. I don't know the history behind this, is there a reason Open Cup matches are held at Starfire?
SaH: The Sounders have this theory that they don't want a sparse Qwest ever, and for some reason they think that only the Open Cup Final will get the 25,000+ that looks good. I think they're wrong. Starfire is a decent Reserve/High School facility, but it isn't a proper stadium. But it is pretty awesome to see such great talents there in a very intimate environment with about 3500 people. Postgame you can even have pizza with some of the players, which isn't common for most sports.
LAGConf: The Sounders don't have a friendly on Saturday, they've got an MLS match. Which one is the priority? Do key starters rest on Wednesday, play limited minutes, or do they rest of Saturday? Or do they just go the full 180?
SaH: Seattle will juggle the lineup a bit, but it will be mainly reservists. Of course this seasons reserve players have about 80 career MLS goals in total, dozens of starts in the last two years and a few would be starters on other teams so maybe they aren't reservists. A few recent starters will probably be on the bench as subs; most likely Fredy Montero.
LAGConf: If you were permitted to ratify one rule to make the US Open Cup more appealing, what would it be?
SaH: Game of the round on national TV, even if just FSC. Those early rounds with Cinderellas and what-not scream NCAA type stories. I mean, the storyline when LA Blues were up against the Galaxy? Soccer fans would flock to that. Each round has more meaning than random midweek MLS games. But maybe I just love the Open Cup too much.