Photo by Stephen Brashear/ISIphotos.com
Either way, history is going to made in Seattle Tuesday night.
Should the host Seattle Sounders defeat the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup final (10 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel), then they'll put the finishing touches on a three-peat, something that has never been done in the Major League Soccer era and hasn't been accomplished since Greek American AA did so in 1967-1969.
The Fire, however, can win their fifth title, which would tie them with Bethlehem Steel and Maccabi Los Angeles for the most tournament championships all-time.
So who will win the 2011 U.S. Open Cup? Let's take a closer look at the two finalists:
Of the two teams, Chicago had the easier road in qualifying for the final, defeating the Rochester Rhinos, a watered-down version of the New York Red Bulls and the Richmond Kickers en route to the title game.
Seattle topped regional foe Kitsap Pumas before overcoming Western Conference powers Los Angeles Galaxy and FC Dallas in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, respectively.
The Sounders are balancing three competitions, having qualified for the knockout stage of the CONCACAF Champions League while also maintaining hope of catching the Los Angeles Galaxy for the MLS Supporters' Shield. Between injuries and schedule congestion, the club's depth has been tested all season long, and it hasn't hurt the team's form in the least.
Seattle certainly has the edge in terms of having home-field advantage and an overall better season, amassing 57 points through 31 games in comparison to Chicago's 37 points in that same amount of time. In terms of head-to-head matchups, Seattle defeated Chicago, 2-1, in Seattle on April 9, and the two teams played to a 0-0 draw at Toyota Park on June 4.
Chicago, meanwhile, is still unexpectedly alive in the postseason hunt after a late-season surge has seen Frank Klopas' squad go 6-1-3 in its last 10 matches. Riding red-hot Golden Boot candidate Dominic Oduro and recent hat-trick hero Marco Pappa, Chicago is hardly the pushover it was earlier in the season and should be able to give the Sounders a better fight than might have been expected when the teams qualified for the final on Aug. 30.
With a crowd of more than 35,000 expected at CenturyLink Field, it promises to be a special night in the Pacific Northwest regardless of the outcome. Who do you think will win the match?
Cast your vote here:
How did you vote? How do you see tonight's final unfolding? Do you think the Sounders will finish off the three-peat? Or will the Fire win their fifth title?
Share your thoughts below.