If the Sounders’ match against rival Vancouver wasn’t enough intensity for Sounders fans, a double dose of Portland might do the trick.
Sounders FC will take on the Timbers on Wednesday in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match at Starfire in Tukwila, then host Portland on Sunday in an MLS match at CenturyLink Field.
For five straight years (2008-12) the Sounders made the Open Cup semifinals, and were champions from 2009 to 2011. Between that tradition and the fact that it’s against a rival, Seattle isn’t treating this like a warmup to Sunday’s MLS match.
“The Open Cup, it’s looking for a chance to get in the semifinals and get another trophy,” said Seattle defender Zach Scott.
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The first half of the Seattle-Portland double shot will be a chance for the Sounders to get players back on the field that have been out for a variety of reasons.
Obafemi Martins is nursing a slight hamstring injury, and might see time Wednesday. Gonzalo Pineda and Osvaldo Alonso sat out the last game, a 1-0 loss to Vancouver, because of yellow-card accumulation. DeAndre Yedlin has returned from World Cup duties, and will be “available” for Wednesday’s match. Marcus Hahnemann is “making progress” with his hamstring strain, and it remains to be seen if he’ll play.
So Wednesday will be a careful balance between getting players back into the flow of playing while considering the fact that they’ll be needed Sunday, too.
“I know our feeling and I think the feeling of most teams in this stage is we’re in it to win it,” said Sounders coach Sigi Schmid. “They’re trying to win it, so we’re going to put out the team that makes sense with a little bit of an eye towards Sunday.”
That eye toward Sunday might limit what lineup the Sounders will put on the field Wednesday. A depleted lineup against Vancouver was a factor in the Sounders’ 1-0 loss last weekend, the team’s first loss since May 11.
Getting back on the winning track will motivate the Sounders. Doing so against a longtime rival is simply an extra shot of intensity.
“Those games are always really intense,” Scott said. “Two of them in one week is that much better. We all love playing these rivalry games.”
The last time Seattle and Portland got together, it was a 4-4 shootout that included Clint Dempsey’s first MLS hat trick. While Dempsey won’t be available for Wednesday’s match, Seattle still hopes to tap into that same excitement — as long as the intensity of the rivalry doesn’t leak into the teams’ ability to play.
“I don’t think it’ll boil over or anything,” Scott said. “We’re all professionals. We all want to do the best for our team. Nobody’s going to go out there and do anything stupid.”
The winner of the Open Cup match will host the Atlanta-Chicago winner and move onto the tournament semifinals, Aug. 12-13.