Sounders FC tried to climb down from its U.S. Open Cup cloud Thursday, turning its attention to the resumption of the MLS regular season Saturday against Philadelphia at CenturyLink Field.
“Ten or 20 years from now people are going to look back and say, ‘That’s a phenomenal accomplishment’ – no matter what Daniel Hernandez thinks,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “But it’s a situation where now they need to refocus. They have to decide, ‘Hey, OK, this is the next task at hand.’ And that hunger, that desire to continue to win and achieve has to be present. We can’t relax. The moment you become satisfied you become ordinary, so we can’t be satisfied.”
The mention of Hernandez is in reference to a post the FC Dallas midfielder put on Twitter the day before, implying that the Sounders’ three straight U.S. Open Cup championships were eased by the organization playing 11 of the 14 games at home, thanks to the tournament awarding game sites through a sealed bidding process.
The same day that Hernandez’s post appeared, so did a story on The Sporting News website saying that some Open Cup rules could be revamped for 2012, including changes in the way that game sites are awarded.
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Whatever changes come, Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer said he hopes to be part of the discussion, after having been involved in the tournament for a decade – first at the USL level and then MLS for the last three seasons.
“I don’t think the bidding process is going to change the profile of the tournament, necessarily,” Hanauer said. “… I think there are other factors that could be even more important, whether that’s continuing to try to drive television exposure, (or) trying to continue to make it an even bigger priority for every team that plays. And by ‘priority,’ that may mean prize money, it may mean other things; by potentially working with sponsors to help, whether it’s generate revenue or generate exposure for the tournament; by educating the fan base at a national and local and league level; so on and so forth.”
He called the ideas small pieces that could add up to a more important event.
Osvaldo Alonso put the exclamation point on the Sounders’ Cup-clinching 2-0 win over Chicago with a stoppage-time goal in which the midfielder patiently dribbled across the goal mouth before finding an opening.
He was asked if he would have had the confidence to hold the ball that long in previous seasons.
“My first thought was to go on and shoot it,” he said through a translator. “But I held onto it for a second, and the goalie made some movements that made me think, ‘You know what: I’m just going to try to draw him this way and shoot it the other direction.’ And it worked.”
Midfielder Alvaro Fernandez was not cleared for practice Thursday after suffering a concussion in the first half of the Open Cup final Tuesday. However, Mauro Rosales (knee) increased his training. Schmid did not commit to playing Rosales against the Union on Saturday, but he said the midfielder will play in at least two more games before the playoffs. … More than 55,000 tickets have been sold for the final home game of the regular season, Oct. 15 versus San Jose. The game was marketed as part of a three-game package that included the friendly against Manchester United.