Tomorrow night is the 98th annual U.S. Open Cup Final. It will be played in Seattle between Sounders FC and the Chicago Fire. So why am I creating a fan post (my first) at RSL Soapbox? To explain to RSL fans why they should be rooting for Seattle to take home their 3rd trophy in 3 years.
Jason Kreis recently commented on how important it was for his club to finish second in the Supporters Shield (SS) race (since RSL can no longer win the SS):
In particular it would be nice to finish second in the Supporter’s Shield race because then we give ourselves a little insurance policy to qualify for CONCACAF.
He's, of course, referring to the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) which you are all familiar with since RSL became the first MLS team to make it to the championship round of the tournament earlier this year before losing to Monterrey. That was the 2010-11 edition of the tournament. RSL did not qualify for the 2011-2012 edition. Clearly Kreis wants to get another shot in the future (next year if possible).
US based MLS teams can qualify for CCL 4 different ways: (1) win the SS, (2) win the MLS Cup, (3), win the U.S. Open Cup, and (4) be the MLS Cup runner-up. Occasionally, the same team will achieve one or more of those in the same season. The most recent occurrence of this was in 2008 when the Columbus Crew won both the SS and the MLS Cup. When this happens, the available spot goes to the next team in the standings after the SS winner. As a result, in 2008, the Houston Dynamo qualified for CCL.
So why does Seattle winning the U.S. Open Cup have anything to do with this? If Seattle wins, they'll seal their entry into 2012-13 CCL. LA has all but clinched the SS (Seattle still has a remote chance of winning it they're perfect and LA falters repeatedly). This means that if RSL remains in 3rd place for the SS (or passes Seattle to get 2nd), then they will qualify for CCL if either LA or Seattle make it to the MLS Cup final since both will have already qualified via other means. Obviously if RSL makes it to the final they'll be in anyway.
I know denz has mixed opinions on CCL, stating both how proud he was of RSL making it to the final and also stating that teams who compete in the CCL group stage have poor performances in the MLS Cup playoffs. Nevertheless, RSL players, coaches, ownership, and many fans have made their desires known at various times and they want another shot at CCL. If Seattle wins the U.S. Open Cup tomorrow night, this can only help RSL achieve that goal.
So even if it's sanctimoniousness (something I was accused of this weekend), RSL fans should root for Seattle on Tuesday.