Few things in life are guaranteed, but the Seattle Sounders drawing the Portland Timbers in the early stages of the U.S. Open Cup is about as close as it comes in sports. Predictably, that’s just what happened during Thursday’s Fourth Round draw, with one notable twist.
Although this will be the fourth time in six years that the Sounders will host the Timbers, this year’s encounter will be contested at Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium on June 11 or 12. The three previous Open Cup matches between the Sounders and Timbers were all played at Starfire Stadium. Overall, this will be the eighth time the Sounders and Timbers will face off in the Open Cup since 2005 with Seattle holding 5-2 advantage.
Moving the game to Cheney will likely prove somewhat controversial even if it makes logistical sense. The Sounders have historically played the vast majority of their Open Cup matches at their Tukwila practice facility, and enjoyed overwhelming success there. Up until the infamous Red Card Wedding in 2015, in fact, they had gone 19-0-1 there. Assuming this marks the end of that era, they’ll close the books with a 20-1-1 Open Cup record at Starfire, having never lost a match there in regular time.
Despite their record, though, Starfire is not exactly an ideal hosting facility. As intimidating of an atmosphere as it presents, the turf there is notoriously hard and amenities are barely up to even minor league standards. Cheney, on the other hand, has proven to be a quality home for soccer since they became the permanent home of the Sounders’ USL affiliate last year with a well-maintained grass pitch, first-class concessions, proper changing rooms and even luxury boxes.
Indications are that any future Open Cup games would also likely be hosted at Cheney, assuming availability. The Sounders will be attempting to win their fifth Open Cup, which would tie the all-time record.