By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
Major League Soccer teams report to training camp in January and the MLS Cup championship is won the following December.
This season, teams looked forward to a three-week break in June while the FIFA World Cup group stage is played.
So Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid was not happy Thursday when the U.S. Open Cup scheduled MLS teams to join the tournament just as that break in league play begins.
“We might as well play an MLS game,” Schmid said. “I thought the break was good because it would give us time to give our players a little bit of time off, but also to give our staff some time off. … It also gives people the opportunity to go to the World Cup if they wanted to for four or five days or six days, whether you’re a trainer or a team administrator or something like that. Instead, the New York office will be there and the U.S. Soccer office will be there, and the rest of us will toil away here and watch it on TV.”
The Sounders’ MLS schedule has them off between a June 7 match at Chicago and a June 28 match at D.C. United.
However, the newly released Open Cup schedule has the Sounders and other United States-based MLS teams joining the tournament in its fourth round, June 10-18.
The field includes 42 amateur sides and 39 professional clubs from MLS, USL Pro and the NASL, including defending champion D.C. United. That will make it the largest field since MLS teams began participating in 1996.
The 101st Open Cup competition begins May 7 with eight amateur matches. The second round will be played May 14, and the third on May 28. After MLS teams join in the fourth round, the competition continues with a fifth round June 24-25, the quarterfinals July 8-9, the semifinals Aug. 12-13 and the Final either Sept. 30 or Oct. 1.
The Sounders won the 2009, 2010 and 2011 tournaments, advanced to the final in 2012 and were eliminated in their first match last season at Tampa Bay.
Despite being unhappy with the timing of the 2014 tournament, Schmid said he does not want to repeat the one-and-done of last year.
“I believe very strongly if you enter something, you enter it to play well and to win it,” he said. “Don’t enter it just to go through the motions. We certainly want to play well. We want to do well in the Open Cup.”
The Open Cup champion wins the Dewar Challenge Trophy, $250,000 and traditionally receives admission to the next CONCACAF Champions League.
The 2014 CCL concluded Wednesday, with Cruz Azul defeating Toluca on away goals.
“Congratulations Cruz Azul,” Schmid said. “And hopefully they’ll do well very well representing our region in the Champions Cup.”
Schmid indicated that defender Leo Gonzalez is questionable for the Sounders’ 1 p.m. Saturday home match against Colorado due to a hamstring issue. Gonzalez missed the first four games this season due to a groin injury, with Dylan Remick starting in his place. “I feel very confident we’ve got two very good left backs,” Schmid said. … Schmid also said midfielder Brad Evans, who returned last weekend after missing four games with a calf injury, came through the week fine and is probable for the Rapids.