Five things to know about the US Open Cup match at Sounders vs Earthquakes

The Seattle Sounders continue one of the busiest months in team history with a US Open Cup match against the San Jose Earthquakes tonight. How much lineup manipulation will be will remain a very open question. But there are plenty of reasons the Sounders would want to step up. Here’s what you need to know about the game:

It will be a mixed line

The Sounders clearly come from CCL’s historic performance. That means Brian Schmitzer took turns rotating hard over the weekend during the 2-0 loss to FC Dallas. Tonight is a chance to go stronger than the weekend, but they don’t necessarily need to blow the doors. Instead of a completely changed lineup like we saw against Dallas, we can see something that looks like something like the B+ lineup.

I think Raúl Ruídias and Nicolas Lodeiro will probably enjoy this from the stands. Other than that, most starters will be either in the lineup or on the bench. Christian Roldan, Obed Vargas, Albert Rusnak and Stefan Frye seem reasonably good bets to start, as all three should be able to handle the increased workload. – Mark Kastner

Back in the USL days, the Sounders have now played 23 US Open Cup games – including the playoffs – at Starfire Stadium. The only time they lost a game was the infamous red card wedding in 2015, and the only time they needed penalty kicks to advance was a game against the Earthquakes in 2014, which culminated when Marcus Hahnemann swapped his shirt for a fan’s shirt. I don’t have the data to back this up, but I can’t imagine there being any stadium in North America where the home team wins 93% of their matches. – Jeremiah

Part of the reason the Sounders at Starfire are so unique is that it has a unique atmosphere. The field itself is a bit small, but it looks smaller due to the proximity of the stands. There is often a feeling of cage match in the proceedings. One constant over the years has been the advantage that large bodies offer. Whether it’s Nate Jagua, Sami Ochoa or Kenny Cooper, the best Open Cup teams in the Sounders have boasted of imposing a ninth place finish. Will Bruyne and Sam Adeniran fit this mold well. – Jeremiah

There is an inevitable losing streak

We are all familiar with the history of the Sounders written in the Open Cup. Their all-time record in the competition is 23-6-4 since they entered the MLS. But recent years in competition have not been kind to Seattle. They are currently sickening a three-game losing streak dating back to 2017, which began with the loss to Earthquakes. In the broader context of this season, the Open Cup is perhaps the Sounders’ fourth most important competition. However, it’s still play for the trophy, and if the Sounders lose it during the fight, at least you can say they made an account for themselves. – Mark Kastner

No one would confuse Earthquakes for an immediate MLS Cup contender, but they have certainly shown some improvement since their split from Matthias Almeida. Small sample size and all that, but the earthquakes went 3-1-0 under interim coach Alex Covelo, including a win from behind at the Sounders two weeks ago. However, there are some obvious caveats. For example, the three wins were at home and one was against the NISA team. In a one-way match during that time, they were destroyed 3-0 by New York City FC. However, there’s a good chance the Quakes will use something like their first-choice lineup and be well organized. The Sounders can’t take this game lightly. – Jeremiah

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