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Young Sounders hopeful to kick-start season in U.S. Open Cup

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A likely combination of young fringe players and S2 call-ups will face the Sacramento Republic Wednesday

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

With the club’s poor start to the league season, the younger players on the Seattle Sounders are hoping that Wednesday’s match against the USL’s Sacramento Republic FC in the U.S. Open Cup will serve as an opportunity to jumpstart the season.

Head coach Brian Schmetzer may decide to roll out a starting lineup that features players who are usually contributors off the bench, along with a number of S2 players who will be signed to short-term contracts for the match.

“We have always placed importance on the league, Open Cup, MLS Cup, Cascadia Cup,” Schmetzer said following Monday’s training session. “It’s always important to us. All of them are. The challenge that we’re facing here is that not how much importance you place on the match, but how do you mix players for a Wednesday-Saturday turnaround (D.C. United visits on the weekend). We want to win every game. We want to do well in both competitions. That will be the trick.”

Faced with such a roster conundrum and low on healthy outfield players, younger players on the squad will have to shoulder the challenge against Sacramento, whom S2 has not beaten in USL play since 2015. The First Team notched a 3-1 victory against Sacramento during preseason.

Henry Wingo, who is likely to start in Wednesday’s game, said the club knows what to expect from the Republic.

“We have a bit of a reminder of what they brought in that preseason game,” Wingo said. “They can be dangerous. They’ve been successful in the USL over the past few seasons. I’m sure there will be a lot of fans there. Nothing we’re not used to, it’s just very important that we get a result.”

Wingo said that the players in the squad who have not seen as much time in MLS play are ready for their chance to contribute and try to inject some adrenaline to a season that is listing to port after a 2-7-2 start.

“The young guys, guys who haven’t been playing as much, everyone is super hungry,” Wing said. “Especially when the team is not doing well. It can be easy to get complacent if you’re a guy who hasn’t been seeing a lot of minutes but your team is doing well, but our team is doing horrible right now so everybody wants to be on the field and give everything and try and give this team a boost. We’re committed, we just need to keep looking forward to the next game and hopefully we can get a result down there.”