by Katlin Moore
Winning the US Open Cup is important because it offers the type of legitimacy which comes from a championship that is lacking on the whole in professional sports in Seattle.
Seattle’s first professional sports team, the Pacific Coast Hockey Association Seattle Metropolitans formed in 1915. In the ensuing 97 years, Seattle has only won seven championships—and three of those seven are the 2009, 2010, and 2011 US Open Cups.
Two more of the seven come from teams that are no longer in town- the 1917 Stanley Cup for the Metropolitans and the 1979 NBA Championship for the Sonics. The Storm has won the WNBA Championship twice, in 2004 and 2010.
The Seahawks have never won a Super Bowl, nor have the Mariners even made it to a World Series. The Sounders have yet to win the MLS Cup or Supporter’s Shield—although a girl can hope!
Does Seattle’s undefeated since 2009 streak in USOC mean that they are the best soccer team in North America? Not necessarily because most of this year’s USOC wins came during a time when they were looking at their worst league play slump since coming into the MLS.
It just means that the club has seen results from placing a very strong emphasis on this competition.
A win for the Sounders tonight would mean an accomplishment never seen in the 98 history of the nation’s oldest soccer competition- one team winning for four consecutive years. It would give the fans and the Front Office justification for the dip in MLS form earlier this season.
A victory could help dispel the notion that the Sounders have only done as well as they have in the competition because of home field advantage—half of the cup finals would be away wins.
Given the nature of the single elimination competition that does not allow for any second chances, it is not easy for a team to win four years in a row. Seattle could hold that record for quite some time.
Sigi Schmid himself alluded to this yesterday at the media teleconference:
“It’s a little more difficult than people can imagine. It’s a straight knockout competition, so there are a lot of things that can go wrong. You can get some bad bounces, bad calls, you can run into a hot goalkeeper or have a bad day at the office and you’re out.
That’s why when you look around the world, there are very few countries where you see teams repeat as cup champions. You’ll see a Manchester United repeat as league champions or a Barcelona or Madrid go through runs in terms of league championships.
Of major countries, you very rarely find a team that wins their open cup competition a number of years in a row. From that standpoint, it has flown under the radar a little bit.”
A win for Sporting Kansas City tonight would not be devastating for the Sounders, but nearly so. They would have to work to advance further in the play-offs to placate the disappointed fans that will endure countless giddy Twitter taunts—the next battle in a twitter war that recently heated up with the hash tag #carelikewedo following Portland’s exit at the hands of Cal FC in the third round.
The Sounders have seen their share of glory on the pitch. While legions of adoring fans have embraced the team, and we have found a place in our hearts for these men in green, it is important that the Sounders win this game. They need to win it for the club. They need to win it for the fans. They need to win it for the city. They need to win it and use the momentum to push them to an MLS cup victory.
That victory would push the Sounders into the annals of sports history, not only in Seattle, but internationally, and would forever dispel the notion that Seattle is not legitimate sporting city.
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