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Sounders To Use Other Home Field For Open Cup
Seattle Times, July 21st, 2009 3PM
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It isn't exactly Qwest field. But the compact Starfire Sports Complex stadium has one up on its giant neighbor to the north: When the Seatlle Sounders FC have played there, They haven't lost. Undefeated in three U.S. Open Cup matches at Starfire, Seattle hopes to keep the streak alive at its second home with a win over the Houston Dynamo in the Open Cup semifinals tonight. Although some fans wanted the game to be held at Qwest field, the club opted to play at Starfire and increase the capacity of around 4,000 to perhaps 4,500 or more.

Seattle could gain an advantage from the venue's bouncy, flattened turf that several former United Soccer Leagues Sounders know well. "There's some guys on our team who have played some matches here and are familiar with it," Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said. "The crowd is close and the crowd is pro-Seattle, which gives us a good advantage and certainly helps our team. The surface is not the ideal surface for us, either. But it is a surface that we are maybe a little more used to than the opponent is." Schmid added: "You've got to come to our place. And the crowd is here and the crowd's right on top of you and it could get a little intimidating that way."

Forward-midfielder Sebastien Le Toux has thrived at Starfire, leading the USL Sounders in Open Cup goals with five last season, then scoring twice in play-in games for the MLS Sounders before converting a penalty against Kansas City this year. "It's a home-field advantage for Seba. Seba loves playing here," Schmid said. "He's the one who always makes sure Adrian [Hanauer, Sounders general manager] bids to have the game here rather than someplace else." Teammate Roger Levesque, another former USL Sounder with a good Open Cup past, joked that Le Toux is "Mr. Open Cup."

 

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