Hey there. It’s me, the “Open Cup is a major trophy” guy. Been that way since 2007 watching the then USL Sounders make a run under Brian Schmetzer. Back then he played his best in order to defeat MLS teams.
He should not do that in 2022.
Already a success, there are more trophies to be won. The most important of those is another MLS Cup — the only way to win that is to make the playoffs. Seattle Sounders, even without João Paulo, can do it. The A-team is great. They just beat last year’s MLS Cup champs and two teams from Liga MX on the way to the biggest achievement in US men’s club history.
But, we also learned that those players cannot play twice a week for a month straight. May, with an Open Cup win Wednesday night, becomes a month of two games a week.
Brian Schmetzer should rest his A-team. Give them 10 days off and reboot the regular season. Last in the West is not where this squad belongs.
To rest that Ideal XI and a couple of those that went 90 in the loss at FC Dallas means starting the very back end of the roster at Starfire against the San Jose Earthquakes.
That B-minus, not quite C-team, because there’s only a single Tacoma Defiance player who might start, has played together frequently over the past two years. They know each other because they play with Defiance.
Stefan Cleveland in goal — the easy choice.
In defense, the centerbacks should be Abdoulaye Cissoko and Jackson Ragen. At fullback there are a couple options — Kelyn Rowe and/or Jimmy Medranda could start with one of Randy Mendoza and Joe Hafferty also starting.
Going with a midfield three because Starfire’s pitch lends itself well to a forward defensive alignment using a flat 4-3-3, Schmetzer should start Reed Baker-Whiting, Josh Atencio, and Danny Leyva.
Up top Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Sam Adeniran should be the wide forwards. They’ve earned that look based on their time in MLS Next Pro and are both stellar in Tukwila.
The center forward should be Will Bruin, as he didn’t go 90 at Dallas.
These moves keep Fredy Montero in reserve with a bench of 3-4 Defiance guys, the other Sounders fullback, Andrew Thomas and only one ringer from that Ideal XI.
Yes, I know. The Open Cup is a major trophy that sends a team to the CCL. We just won that thing.
The veterans need a break, to get back to a weekend-centered schedule. But, this Sounders-Defiance hybrid lineup has a man who has 4 goals at Starfire this year, another with 1. They’re savvy and capable. On a field that plays short with lots of long balls, putting out a lineup that averages over 6′ tall would be fun.
Beating the ‘Quakes with that lineup would set the Sounders up to go on a run in league play, to reset the regular season and maybe even go on an Open Cup run. Losing to San Jose with that lineup would set the Sounders up to go on a run in league play.
2011 me might hate 2022 me right now, but 2011 me doesn’t have a Concacaf Champions League trophy to see this weekend.