Tonight the Seattle Sounders face the hated Portland Timbers down in Tukwila in the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup.
This week is going to be intense. Two Portland games in one week and both count. Faced with such circumstances, I often find myself as a fan making these bargains with the devil:I can’t imagine losing either game, so hopefully at worst we just draw both. We can’t tie the Open Cup game. Okay… We win the Open Cup, but tie the league game. Are you saying that the Open Cup means more than the Cascadia Cup and the MLS table? Maybe? Ok. We win the Open Cup game on penalties and barely scrap by Sunday night as well. Cool. Two wins I like it. Don’t you think we’re being greedy?
My dual personalities aside, both games are going to be wild. The Timbers finally want to get their season rolling and the Sounders want to continue their march to glory. Coach Sigi Schmid has shown a complete willingness to start veterans in midweek Open Cup games, but this game might be different considering we face Portland again on short rest. “It’s obviously a little bit different because you’re playing two games back-to back,” Schmid said yesterday. “We’re going to put the best team that makes sense with a little bit of an eye towards Saturday [Sunday].” I think Sigi may be blowing smoke on a red herring here. Both Seattle and Portland want a punched ticket to the CONCACAF Champions League and the associated allocation money. Winning the USOC is a surefire to achieve that. And besides, no team wants to lose to their rival under any circumstance, preseason friendly or the playoffs (ugh. don’t mention the playoffs). I expect full-strength squads from both sides.
But Seattle won’t have Clint Dempsey tonight, who’d rather chat up ‘ol Dave Letterman than play at Starfire. I’m kidding here. I do not begrudge Dempsey a slow, confetti-filled return to the lineup. First of all, it is great publicity for the league. Only us diehards are clued in to the match of epic proportions brewing down by the Green River. Dempsey on the Late Show will get many more Americans thinking about soccer (and the Seattle Sounders!). Also the man got the crap kicked out of him in Brazil, so take your time and come back strong Clint.
Seattle will field a much stronger lineup than they sent to BC, as we will have Ozzie Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda back manning the middle. But I doubt DeAndre Yedlin plays. If he does Starfire will go bananas. Unfortunately my wife and I won’t be there for this historic spectacle. After watching the last two Open Cup games live, the rout of PSA Elite and the dramatic slugfest with San Jose, we had to bow out on this one. I teach Wednesday nights and so had to be a “responsible adult” and go to work and not a soccer game. Man, I wanted to yell mean things at Will Johnson. I wanted to give Diego Chara the stink eye so hard he crapped his pants. And of course I want to hear Starfire explode when we fell the Timbers.