[U.S. OPEN CUP]The Seattle Sounders will attempt to make history when they face Sporting Kansas City Wednesday in the final of the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (TV: GolTV, live, 9 p.m. ET).
"Having been able to win the past three finals and the opportunity to maybe win a fourth is unique and special," said Seattle coach Sigi Schmid.
The Sounders go into the game as the favorites, coming off a 4-0 demolition of the defending MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday to extend their unbeaten streak to nine games (6-0-3) in all competitions.
Seattle has been the highest scoring team of this year’s tournament -- four wins by a margin of 15-2 -- and extended its unbeaten run in Open Cup play to 18 games (17-0-1).
The game marks the return of Eddie Johnson to Kansas City, where he enjoyed his best MLS season (15 goals and six assists in 2007) before moving to Fulham in England. Schmid said Johnson has no special motivation in returning to Kansas City.
“Eddie has been motivated the entire season," he said. "For him, his career overseas didn’t go as he hoped and had expected so this was a chance for him to put his mark back on soccer to show people that he could still play. He’s been motivated from the beginning of our season and I don’t think there’s special motivation for him because he’s going against Kansas City."
Sporting Kansas City is coming off a 1-0 win over New England that moved it into a tie for first place with the Houston Dynamo in MLS's Eastern Conference.
Injuries have been a problem for SKC. French defender Aurelien Collin, already suspended for the final, is recuperating from facial fractures suffered in the All-Star Game, and Bobby Convey and Jacob Petersonare listed as doubtful for Wednesday's game. SKC coach Peter Vermes says the key to his team's success has been its depth.
“This competition especially is one in which you need to use every man on your roster," he said. "We’ve gotten to the final by rotating our team around. I really believe that this is a competition that everybody in this league wants to be in the final if they have the ability to."
Vermes added that it was too early to know where Honduran Olympic star Roger Espinoza would be ready for the final.
“Roger did have a [shoulder/clavicle] injury coming back from London and he was actually dealing with it in the Brazil game as well. He’s gone through a lot. Roger is a beast, though. He finds a way. He’s someone who is important to our team, but whether he’s going to have enough for the entire game and come the following weekend is something I’ll have to assess as we go through each game."
U.S. OPEN THREE-TIME CHAMPIONS:
Seattle Sounders (2009-11)
New York Greek-Americans (1967-69)
Fall River (Mass.) Marksmen/New Bedford Whales (1930-32)
St. Louis Stix, Baer & Fuller/St. Louis Central Breweries (1933-35)