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Sounders and Crew Battle for US Open Cup Title Tuesday Night

The Seattle Sounders and Columbus Crew will meet in the 97th edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final Tuesday night at Qwest Field in Seattle.  The winner will not only add their name to the Dewar Cup trophy, the oldest trophy in American team sports, but take home $100,000 in prize money.  The game will be televised on FSC at 9:00 pm CT.

The Seattle Sounders won last year’s Cup, defeating DC United.  Although MLS clubs have won the US Open Cup all but once since joining the competition in 1996, no club has won two years in a row.  Coach Sigi Schmid’s Seattle Sounders will have home field advantage, however, and the home team is 9-3-0 in title games since MLS teams joined the fray.

The Columbus Crew got to the finals by defeating the USSF D2 Rochester Rhinos and the USL-2 Charleston Battery at Crew Stadium before downing DC United at RFK Stadium.  The Rochester Rhinos are the only non-MLS to win the Cup since 1996 and were the regular season champions of USSF D2, and thus are the top seed in the USSF D2 playoffs beginning this week.    The Charleston Battery were the champions of USL-2, defeating the Richmond Kickers for the title.  And DC United played in the US Open Cup title game last season, so the Crew had some formidable competition in getting to this year’s final.

The Crew, coached by Robert Warzycha, have played in two previous USOC finals, winning the Cup once. They have been lead by Andy Iro and Steve Lenhart, with two goals each, in their 2010 Cup run.   The Crew are 13-7-7 in MLS league play in 2010, good for second place in the Eastern Conference, and have been led in the regular season by Argentinian star Guillermo Barros Schellotto in MLS play with eight goals.  The Crew are also competing in the CONCACAF Champions League, and are only one point behind Group B leaders Santos Laguna, having once three games and losing twice.  The Crew’s last group stage game in the CCL is scheduled for October 21, when they meet Trinidad and Tobago side Joe Public.   Quite a successful year for the Columbus Crew so far.

The Seattle Sounders arrived at this year’s USOC finals by defeating their dreaded Pacific Coast rivals, the Portland Timbers, in a shoot-out June 30th at PGE Park after playing to a 1-1 draw.  The Sounders then dispatched the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA to get to the finals.  Forward Nate Jaqua has led the Sounders in the USOC with five goals, tied for the tournament lead with Paulo Araujo Jr of Miami FC, now on loan with Real Salt Lake. 

The Sounders, in their second season in MLS, are 12-9-6 in league play, good for fourth place in the Western Conference.  The Sounders have won four in a row in league play, including a 4-0 spanking of Columbus on September 18th, and are led in scoring by Freddy Montero’s ten goals.  The Sounders are also involved in the CONCACAF Champions League,  They had the misfortune of being drawn into Group C, with Champions League regulars Saprissa and Marathon and a very hot Monterrey side, and won’t advance as they only have won once in five matches. The Sounders did win their last CCL matchup, however, defeating Marathon 2-0 in Seattle last week.

Everything points to this being an outstanding US Open Cup Final Tuesday night, and I’m sure the Sounders faithful will be out in full force to cheer the 2009 champions to a repeat Cup title.  The Crew have won the Cup before too, so it should be a fun, competitive title.  And with $100,000 on the line, both teams will be going full out. 

Notes:  A great site for USOC information is TheCup.us at  http://thecup.us/

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