Today, October 5, marks the highly anticipated final match of the 2010 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Tournament—and it happens to be scheduled squarely in Seattle’s backyard. Qwest Field will welcome their MLS home team, the Sounders FC, and their opponent, the Columbus Crew from Ohio, at 7:00pm for the tournament’s concluding kickoff.
On Sept. 1 at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, the Sounders won the semi-final game versus Chivas USA with a final score of 3-1 which catapulted them into the last round. The Crew’s roster found themselves scrambling for every pass and possession in the semis against D.C. United but came out on top after 90 minutes, 2-1, at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. (also on Sept. 1). The last meeting of the season between Columbus and Seattle was played Sept. 18 on Ohio’s turf that ended with a big win for the green, 4-0.
The Sounders have been preparing for today’s matchup the last four weeks, improving club cohesiveness in effort to defend their title earned last year as Open Cup champions against D.C. United, 2-1. Not only are the pressure of the fans and critics on their talented shoulders, but also those self-imposed, psychological expectations of their own performances. The guys in green must live up to their accomplishment in 2009, while remembering two key things: pass the ball with composure, and shoot with accuracy and power. Because offense is the Sounder’s strong-suit, the defensive end will have to step up their foot skills and strike quickly when confronted by incoming Columbus forwards and midfielders. Instead of pushing back, as Sounder’s Tyrone Marshall and Patrick Ianni tend to do, Seattle has to maintain momentum downfield and towards the sidelines if they expect to be victorious.
Despite nerves and anxiety that are part of every sports competition, the home team has history on their side, in addition to tens of thousands of supporting fans. After all, the last venue any fútbol club wants to play at remains the Sounder’s notoriously intimidating Qwest Field: backed by loyally roaring crowds, blindingly-golden scarves and ear-splitting confetti cannons.