Cups will collide during the next several days for area soccer fans.
The United States men’s national team will face Grenada on Saturday as part of a CONCACAF Gold Cup doubleheader at Qwest Field. Meanwhile, Seattle Sounders FC has begun preparing for Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match against the Kansas City Wizards at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila.
The Sounders advanced with a 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers on Wednesday. Kansas City went to penalty kicks before putting away the Minnesota Thunder of USL-1.
They are two of only four Major League Soccer teams still alive in the Open Cup, the nation’s oldest soccer competition. New England, Chicago, Chivas USA and Columbus all were eliminated by opponents from lower leagues. The survivors from MLS are Seattle, Kansas City, D.C. United and Houston.
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This will be the Wizards’ second visit this season. On April 11, Kansas City defeated Seattle, 1-0. That game marked Sounders FC’s first goal allowed and first loss, and it remains the Sounders’ only loss at Qwest Field.
However, the Wizards’ goal came against emergency goalkeeper Ben Dragavon, who filled in after Kasey Keller picked up a red card for a handball outside the penalty area.
Keller will be available this time. And Sounders coach Sigi Schmid expressed hope that other players who sat out the Portland trip for various health reasons could be ready.
“(They are) the only team to beat us at home, so we’d like to even up that score,” Schmid said. “We get a little bit of a break; hopefully, get a little bit healthier. I don’t know if (midfielder Osvaldo) Alonso is going to be back in time for that game. We hope he might be back. ... Freddie Ljungberg should be all right. ... Hopefully, Steve Zakuani might be back as well, although we’re limited in these games to only playing five foreign players, so that impacts, a little bit, those decisions.”
The Sounders will be without defender Tyrone Marshall and midfielder Brad Evans, who are with the Jamaica and U.S. national teams, respectively.
Team USA practiced almost alongside the Sounders on Thursday at Starfire Sports Complex. The other three national teams that will begin their Gold Cup runs this weekend in Seattle – Honduras, Haiti and Grenada – also are training in Tukwila.
Honduras and Haiti will meet in the opening game at 4 p.m. Saturday at Qwest Field. Grenada and the USA will meet at 6 p.m.
After training Thursday, U.S. coach Bob Bradley praised his hosts.
“I think anybody who has watched (the Sounders), whether its live at Qwest or on TV, you get a true sense of the passion that the fans have here for their team,” he said. “You see their jerseys all over the city as we move around.
“I mentioned earlier that the training facility is first-class. They deserve credit for the way they have gone about bringing the team into the league. And I think it’s great that we are beginning the Gold Cup here.”
Sounders sign defender
Sounders FC has announced the signing of Leonardo Gonzalez, a 28-year-old defender with 59 caps for the Costa Rican national team.
“It’s nice to have a naturally left-footed player,” Schmid said through a Sounders news release. “He can play left back, play center back in a pinch, and he can also play wide and run the whole line for us. He is an attacking fullback with good size and athleticism. He’s very willing to get forward out of a defensive position and does a good job defensively.”
Terms of Gonzalez’s contract were not announced. He is expected to join the Sounders in late July after completing his duty with Costa Rica’s CONCACAF Gold Cup team.
Suit filed against Jaqua
A former University of Oregon student filed a $10 million civil suit this week against Sounders forward Nate Jaqua, claiming Jaqua raped her while she was a member of Oregon’s soccer team in 2007, according to a report on komonews.com.
Jaqua, who is from Oregon, has not been charged with a crime. He was a member of the MLS’ Los Angeles Galaxy at the time of the alleged rape.