Monday, October 3, 2011

2011 U.S. Open Cup Championship preview: Seattle Sounders FC vs Chicago Fire

By Money Mike

Well, it's come down to this. The Seattle Sounders, looking to become the first team since the New York Greek-Americans to win three straight U.S. Open Cup titles. The Chicago Fire, looking to win their fifth U.S. Open Cup title. A crowd of about 35,000 are expected at CenturyLink Field for the 2011 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final. The Sounders are coming off a 2-1 win in MLS play on the road against the New England Revolution in which they rested most of their original starters. They started Fredy Montero though, and the Colombian netted two goals on Saturday night to bring his goal total to 11 goals on the season. The match tomorrow will be broadcasted live on FOX Soccer and aired on radio at News Talk 97.3 KIRO FM. I won't have to watch on TV or listen because I will be at this game giving my Full 90'.

Seattle's road to the final:

Previous results:
June 28 - Seattle Sounders 2-1 Kitsap Pumas (USL PDL)
July 13 - Seattle Sounders 3-1 Los Angeles Galaxy
August 30 - Seattle Sounders 1-0 FC Dallas

The Sounders survived a bit of a scare in the Round of 16 against USL Premier Development League club Kitsap Pumas, but they were able to hold on and walk away with a 2-1 victory. Mike Fucito scored two goals in that game and was named player of the round. Former #1 draft pick and USL Sounder Nik Besagno pulled one back for the Pumas, but it was not enough. Bryan Meredith who is currently with the Sounders was playing for the Pumas at the time. Kitsap went on to win their first USL Premier Development League Championship. Next up was the LA Galaxy. LA came off a 2-1 win in their Round of 16 matches against USL Pro club Los Angeles Blues. Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena put in some big names in the starting 11 for this one like Landon Donovan, A.J. DeLaGarza, Chris Birchall, Juninho, Michael Stephens and Paolo Cardozo. The Sounders had some big names in their lineup as well, including Fredy Montero. After it was all said and done, it was the Sounders winning by 3 goals to 1 as Nate Jaqua, Fredy Montero and Lamar Neagle found the back of the net. Then it was FC Dallas up next at Starfire on August 30th. Former Washington Husky defender George John made the trip with Dallas after his move to English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers fell through. That made no difference at all because it was the Sounders defeating FC Dallas 1-0 after a beautiful left footed curling effort from Fredy Montero. And now mark it down, October 4, 2011, 7pm. The start of Seattle's title defense. Will Chicago pick up their 5th U.S. Open Cup title, or will there be an Emerald City 3-peat?

What to keep our eyes on for this game:

- I think the biggest factor will be whether or not the key injured players from both sides will be given a go for the final. There's no official word about James Riley and his concussion. Mauro Rosales will be a game time decision tomorrow. On the other side, Sebastian Grazzini has been dealing with a hamstring problem and has been training since the Fire landed in Seattle. Head coach Frank Klopas said there's a chance Grazzini will make the 18-man squad.

- Another factor and this is what the Seattle back line needs to focus on. Who will cover Dominic Oduro? Ever since he was traded from Houston to Chicago, he has put up career highs, making 30 appearances in MLS play and scoring 12 goals in 2,352 minutes of action. Expect him to matchup with Jeff Parke.

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