BY ADAM SERRANO
For many teams, the U.S. Open Cup is a tournament that can be glossed over as a distraction to the already jammed pack calendar. For the Seattle Sounders and Chivas USA, each club will have a chance to do something historic.
With a victory, the Sounders will have a chance to return to the Open Cup final for the second year in a row and appear in a major final in front of their own crowd. For Chivas USA, the club will have a chance to appear in the first final in team history, a fact that is not lost on head coach Martin Vasquez.
"I think this is the biggest match in our history," said Vasquez after the club's 1-0 victory over D.C. United on Saturday. "We're going to leave our last drop of effort on the field because our guys understand and know how important this match is because if we win, we're in our first final."
Chivas USA qualified for the semifinals after defeating second division Austin Aztex and the Houston Dynamo. The Rojiblancos have had the most success against the Sounders since the club entered the league. Since Seattle entered MLS, Chivas USA have tallied a 2-0-2 record against the Northwest club and remain the only team in the conference to have not lost to the Sounders. In fact, the last loss that the Rojiblancos suffered against Seattle came to the USL version of the Sounders in 2008, when Seattle defeated them in the Third Round of Open Cup play.
That loss came at the Starfire Sports Complex just outside of Seattle where Wednesday's match will also take place. Only three Chivas USA players remain from the side that lost to the Sounders, one of them Captain Jonathan Bornstein admits that the club can will be getting no favors from the defending Open Cup Champions.
"We've never had good success against them in open cup in the past," said Bornstein. "We've played at Starfire before and know about the circumstances of the stadium, but we must try to carry our success against them in MLS play over to the Open Cup."
For the defending champions, the Sounders are in the Open Cup Semi Finals for the third year in a row. Seattle has struggled in regular season matches having failed to score in the last four matches against Chivas USA. However, Seattle has surged forward in the Open Cup defeating arch rival Portland Timbers and putting in a dominant performance against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The Sounders enter the match having just extended a five match undefeated run in MLS league play with an emotional 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire. Responsible for this success has been the play of forward Fredy Montero who has been on a scoring tear as of late. After a poor start to the season, the mercurial Colombian has put a fire in what was a stagnant Sounders attack.
Both clubs will be without the services of several of their reserves as midfielders Osael Romero and Sanna Nyassi — for Chivas USA and Seattle respectively — will be unavailable due to international duty. Chivas USA may also be without key midfielders Sal Zizzo and Blair Gavin, who are doubtful due to injury.
Should the Sounders defeat Chivas USA, Seattle will host the U.S. Open Cup Final on October 5th no matter what the result in the Columbus Crew vs. D.C. United match. If the Rojiblancos were to qualify for their first final, then they may be able to host the final at the Home Depot Center if the Columbus Crew defeats D.C. United.