SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 20: Players are separated during a scuffle as Alvaro Fernandez #15 of the Seattle Sounders is given a red card in added time against Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field on June 20, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. The Sounders and Sporting Kansas City played to a 1-1 draw. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
There are a lot of cool things about a Sounders vs. Sporting final and none about a Chivas vs. Union final.
Apologies to Chivas USA and the Philadelphia Union, but nobody wants you to win. It's lovely and all that you have made it to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals, but you are both out of playoff spots, rank in the bottom three in MLS in scoring and have no stars. In short, you're bad, boring and ... sorry, I fell asleep there for a second. Where were we?
Everyone wants to see the Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City in the final. They are two good teams, even if they have each slumped at a point this season. When anyone starts listing off the best teams in the country, Seattle and Kansas City come up at some point and when anyone lists the best players in the league, Fredy Montero and Graham Zusi's names will come up, along with Osvaldo Alonso, Chance Myers, C.J. Sapong and Mauro Rosales.
A Seattle vs. Kansas City final is also chock full of story lines. The Sounders would be gunning for a record fourth straight title. Seattle would also have to win at what would be a hostile Livestrong Sporting Park, the crown jewel of U.S. soccer stadiums, giving them a chance to shut up the doubters who say their run of cup titles is because they play so many matches at home. Finally, it would be Sporting's chance to make their claim that they are among the MLS elite, finally being able to add a trophy to their exciting play, beautiful stadium and great fan support that has all been built under new ownership.
And if Chivas and Philadelphia play in the final? Ugh.
Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. ET, Live Stream
Either John Hackworth is a miracle worker or Peter Nowak was a lot worse than we ever thought (and that seems impossible). Somehow, Hackworth has the Union looking like and playing like a real professional team, which nobody thought was possible just one month ago. And as they get ready to play their semifinal they can look back to two weeks ago when they spanked Sporting, 4-0, in league play. Who would have guessed that result was possible back in April?
For Sporting it comes down to whether or not they can get width. With Myers and Kamara right, they should be able to cause havoc on the wing, but they have struggled to do so. When they get narrow, as they have been far too often lately, they look amazingly average. When they have width they look like the best team in MLS. It's that simple.
Pick: Kansas City, 2-1.
Seattle Sounders vs. Chivas USA
Wednesday, 10:00 p.m. ET, Live Steam
The Sounders are perfect at Starfire Sports Complex, home to almost all of their U.S. Open Cup matches. The stadium is small, holding just 4,000, but it is always packed and loud. The result is 11 wins at the ground and 31 goals for to just five against.
While Seattle is chasing that fourth consecutive title, Chivas is on the opposite end of the spectrum. They are trying to make their first ever final and collect the first trophy in their club's history. Working in their favor is their excellent road record this season, which includes three wins away from home in the U.S. Open Cup. Working against them is pretty much everything else.
Pick: Seattle, 2-0.