CCL 2012-13 Qualifiers: US Open Cup Semifinals

Posted on August 29, 2011 5:00 pm

After all of two weeks of group play in the current CONCACAF Champions League, we take a pause to highlight the chase for the first spot in next year’s tournament. A curiosity, yes, but also one of the benefits of following football in our region: no matter what the time of the year, a knockout competition is always just around the corner. And while the other teams in the various divisions of US Soccer tend to their respective playoff chases, the four that are still alive in the US Open Cup will face do-or-die matches in order to keep their dream of reaching (or returning to) the continental stage alive.

Both one-off semifinals will take place on Tuesday night (all times EST), with the Chicago Fire hosting the Richmond Kickers at 8:30 p.m., followed by Seattle Sounders playing FC Dallas at 10:00 p.m. at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Washington. Both hosts will stream their respective match live on their websites, which is no surprise given the importance they have placed on this tournament. The Chicago Fire are the most successful MLS team in the history of the US Open Cup, and have made no secret of their desire to win their fifth trophy – just look at the photoshoot they gave the other four.

The Sounders, on the other hand, have done more than anyone else in US Soccer (including the Federation itself) to promote this tournament. And with good reason: their fans broke the attendance record with last year’s final, a 2-1 triumph over the Columbus Crew that allowed Seattle another shot at the CCL, one that they have taken with aplomb (just ask Monterrey). For good measure, Drew Carey, Adrian Hanauer, Joe Roth and co. put in the highest bid for hosting this year’s US Open Cup Final – assuming they make it, of course (Chicago would host a potential final against Dallas, while Dallas would host against Richmond).

The visitors, however, will not be short on motivation: the Texans will be competing for a trophy that bears their late founder’s name; and their last two visits to Seattle (a 1-1 tie in 2010, followed by a 1-0 win this year) certainly give them confidence to make life difficult for the Sounders. And for the Richmond Kickers, there are simply no second chances: if they want to make history as the first lower-division team in the US to qualify for the Champions League, they have no choice but to win at Toyota Park. With two upset victories at MLS opposition in its pockets, the USL-Pro’s last remaining team will like its chances.

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