With Wednesday's big game upon us, it's time to gear up for the match. Although Chivas USA played the Seattle Sounders just last month, the stakes are considerably higher this time around, as they are meeting this week in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal in Tukwila, Washington. This is the second time these teams are meeting in the USOC semifinal. The last time was in 2010, when Seattle beat Chivas 3-1, on their way to their second consecutive Open Cup. Chivas will be looking to change the story this time and see if they can pull off an upset of a team that hasn't lost in the Open Cup since 2008.
In order to get a sense of the situation for the Sounders, I asked Dave Clark of SB Nation Sounders fan blog Sounder At Heart some questions. Thanks once again to Dave for taking the time to answer my questions. Without further ado...
The Goat Parade asks Sounder at Heart:
1. What are the attitudes surrounding the Open Cup this year for the Sounders? I know there's the push for Se4ttle, but do you sense that it isn't as big of a deal anymore? Or is the team and fanbase as motivated as ever?Players and coaches want it. The type of fans that read blogs like this want it. But they also want more than the Open Cup. They could win SE4TTLE, but miss the Playoffs and this year would be a failure in many people's minds. To use a non-soccer reference it would be like UCLA winning Pac-10/12 titles but not going on a deep run in the tournament. The Sounders set their own bar and now they need to pass it.
2. Seattle finally broke their winless streak in the league Saturday. Do you think there will be positive momentum heading into Wednesday's match, or are the competitions essentially being treated as separate entities?
During their winless streak they crushed the Atlanta Silverbacks and Cal FC while edging the San Jose Earthquakes in a game that was heavily in the Goonies favor. The poor MLS play never effected Open Cup play, nor did good play in the Cup trickle into the league. Oddly, most of the players used in the Cup were regulars. A lot of that may just have to do with how Seattle plays on smaller pitches (Starfire, Kezar, Jeld-WEN). They're just a better team in those circumstances. Much of the Open Cup success has to be due to how the Sounders play in the unique stadium that is Starfire.
3. What's the goalkeeper situation heading into the game? How has the projected starter been playing?
Bryan Meredith, who started the season as one of three guys competing for the backup job, will probably start. Due to injuries to three other keepers he's won the starting job for two series of games in 2012. He's not the best shot-stopper, nor the best at commanding the line. His strength likely lies in his distribution and wingspan. He's good enough to not be the reason that a team loses, but he's not a Keller or Michael Gspurning who are good enough to be the reason that the Sounders win.
4. Prediction for the match?
In the grand scheme of the 2012 season for Chivas, it appears at the moment that the USOC is the best chance for Chivas to win a trophy, the Sounders and a potential finals opponent notwithstanding. Although it will be a tall task, Wednesday's match is absolutely the Goats' biggest game of the season to this point, and the organization, players, and fans want to continue this cup run for as long as they can.
The good news about the JPA/Agudelo/Correa trio is the role that Angel can play for the youngsters. All three were born in Colombia, and Agudelo and Correa have both talked about how well respected Angel is in Colombia, and both youngsters have already discussed the impact of JPA's mentoring in their development as strikers. The good news is that it seems like these three have the quality to continue leading the line for Chivas, but now they need to score goals at an even faster rate for the team to succeed.