U.S. Soccer would like some team other than Seattle Sounders FC to win the 2012 U.S. Open Cup, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said Sunday.
“Being very frank, I think U.S. Soccer is trying to make it difficult for us to win an Open Cup,” Schmid said. “It’s almost like sometimes I get the feeling that they’d rather not see us win it again, for whatever reasons. Maybe they think it dilutes the value of the Cup, or they’re getting pressure from some others that think Seattle can only win it because they’re playing at home.”
The Sounders won the 2009, 2010 and 2011 tournaments under a system that allocated home games on the basis of closed bids. Under that system, Seattle played 11 of 14 matches at home.
This year, the tournament shifted to a coin flip to determine the host team during the early rounds.
U.S. Soccer released the pairings for the fifth round, which would have the Sounders traveling no matter what.
If Seattle wins its fourth-round match against Cal FC (USASA) on Tuesday, it would visit the winner of the Minnesota Stars (NASL)-San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) match.
The Sounders started this tournament with a draw that would have had them travel to Atlanta, but they purchased those hosting rights from the Atlanta Silverbacks.
They also would have traveled to Portland in the fourth round, except the MLS Timbers were upset by Cal FC, an amateur club.
“Obviously, the coin is not favorable for us,” Schmid said. “It seems to land on the right side for K.C. and D.C. United (who have club executives with ties to U.S. Soccer.)”
Schmid was asked if U.S. Soccer is simply rooting against the Sounders or actively working against them.
“I wouldn’t say working against us,” he said. “A two-headed coin usually comes up heads. I don’t know. I’m not saying they’re using a two-headed coin. Nobody sees the coin flip. Nobody’s there. But at the end of the day, it’s just a sense that you have.”
Schmid has previously suggested a televised – or at least webcast – draw as a way to gain publicity for the 99-year-old tournament.
“But the point is the more transparency you have the better it is for everybody, and again, I think it would be great for the tournament,” Schmid said.
U.S. Soccer did not respond to attempts to get comment.
A full transcript of Schmid’s comments is available at blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer
Steve Zakuani participated fully in Sounders training Sunday, two days after playing 45 minutes in his first MLS Reserve League match. After that game, Zakuani (leg) had said he expects to resume MLS play “soon.” However, Schmid said there is no timetable or even physical marker that will determine when Zakuani returns. …. Schmid said a full first-11 lineup could be used against Cal FC if he chooses, because his club won’t play again until June 16. … CONCACAF will stage the draw for its 2012-13 Champions League on Tuesday. The Sounders qualified by winning the 2011 Open Cup. … Tickets for the Sounders’ friendly against Chelsea FC go on sale at 10 a.m. today. The game will be played at 6:30 p.m. July 18 at CenturyLink Field.