US Soccer announced on Thursday that the Seattle Sounders will face either Bremerton-based PDL side Kitsap Pumas or USL club Sacramento Republic FC in the fourth round of the 2016 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Seattle's potential opponents will face off on June 1 in Sacramento to decide which team heads to Starfire Sports Complex to face the Sounders on June 15.
Four-time winners of the tournament, the Sounders' most recent experience in the Open Cup was unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. In a gift that keeps on giving, Clint Dempsey and Brad Evans are suspended, and those playing in the Copa America won't have returned in time for the June 15 match.
As for Sigi Schmid's involvement...let's just say that it might be assistant Brian Schmetzer leading the team out on June 15. Schmid himself doesn't seem to even know, and he said to the media after Thursday's training session: "How many games am I suspended for? I have freakin' no idea. I'll be back in the US Open Cup when they say 'Hey, you can come back in!'" Schmid hinted at past difficulties with the USSF, alluding to a particularly rough situation with a former USMNT boss: "There was a national team coach who wrote me and said 'as long as I'm national team coach, you won't have any involvement.'"
Regardless, the Sounders are still Schmid's team and he'll be calling the shots either way. He said that despite what could be a depleted roster, "my belief is that you go into every game looking to win." As expected, Schmid said that some roster changes will be likely, since Seattle has an away game at the New York Red Bulls the weekend after this match. Schmid stressed that the Open Cup has always been important to the Sounders, and that he and the team take it seriously. "The Open Cup has served us well in the past," Schmid said, "sometimes when we struggled in the regular season, good results in the Open Cup propelled us in the league."