By Money Mike
Already seven MLS teams have been eliminated in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Seattle Sounders will hope they don't become the eighth MLS team to be knocked out as they host NASL club Atlanta Silverbacks tomorrow at the Starfire Sports Complex in Takwila at 7:30pm. The Sounders of course have won three straight U.S. Open Cup titles and are looking to make it four, but it sure as hell won't be an easy task. Especially the way things have gone so far in the third round as seven MLS clubs including Real Salt Lake and the Los Angeles Galaxy have been eliminated. This match was originally scheduled to be played to Atlanta, but the Sounders and the Silverbacks agreed to move the match to Seattle.
It's been four years since these two sides last met. As a matter of fact, the year before, both Seattle and Atlanta met eachother in the 2007 USL First Division Championship which took place at Starfire and Seattle crushed the Silverbacks 4-0 to win the title. A month later, Seattle was awarded an MLS franchise. Now when you look back at that time, a lot of folks haven't heard much about the Sounders and I didn't start following the Sounders until 2005 and soccer wasn't really that big a deal at the time. The popularity level dropped since MLS kicked off its history in 1996 and someone like me who has played soccer for a couple of years, it's really disappointing. Since 07', the popularity level of Soccer in America reached new heights. I mean, this past Saturday the USA-Scotland match in Jacksonville drew a big crowd and believe it or not, the majority of the fans were USA fans. So it's been a while since we've seen the Sounders and the Silverbacks square off.
One thing to keep in mind is that Sigi Schmid won't use his original starting 11 at this stage. We might see a few starters in the 11 as well as some reserve players. So I'm guess we'll see guys like Andrew Duran getting the start. Christian Sivebaek looks like he'll get the start as well. I'm expecting Bryan Meredith to get the start in net although I wouldn't rule out Andrew Weber. This is my guess of course.
This will be the last of Seattle's eight game stretch in the month of May. After a stretch of four straight MLS matches without a win, the Sounders will look to end with month with a win in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and get ready for the month of June where they only have four MLS matches scheduled. The Sounders won't be back to business in MLS play until June 16th when they travel to face the Montreal Impact. Up until that point, they have the Atlanta Silverbacks to deal with tomorrow and if they win this one, then they'll have another Open Cup match on June 5th. They also have a reserve match this friday at Starfire against the Whitecaps. The reason I bring that up is because Steve Zakuani is expected to play in that one. We've heard so many times that Zakuani was aimimg to make his return sometime during this stretch. Other then those three matches, the Sounders will have a much needed break after a long month.