BREMERTON, Wash. — The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fourth round match between four-time champion Seattle Sounders and PDL powerhouse Kitsap Pumas on Wednesday features two teams who have dominated their respective leagues in recent seasons. Here’s a quick look at the most intriguing matchups that could decide who emerges victorious at Starfire Stadium.
Cory Keitz vs. Jordan Morris
With Clint Dempsey missing the tournament due to a combination of suspension and U.S. national team duties, Jordan Morris, 21, will potentially continue his central forward role. Morris, in his first year as a professional, has scored an impressive five goals in 13 appearances for Seattle. Tasked with containing the recipient of the largest Homegrown Player contract in MLS history will be Kitsap Pumas captain Cory Keitz. Strong in the air and a hard tackler, the 26-year-old Keitz returned for a third season with the Pumas after being named to the PDL All-Western Conference team in 2014 and 2015. In their only previous encounter, Keitz and the Pumas blanked Morris and his Sounders U23 team in a 2-0 win.
Jesús Sánchez vs. Osvaldo Alonso
Jesús Sanchez, 25, is no stranger to heroics. The diminutive Pumas midfielder scored multiple winning goals for Kitsap two years ago, helping earn him a season in the USL with the Oklahoma City Energy. Back in Kitsap for 2016 and undoubtedly one of the PDL’s standout players, Sánchez has helped make up for the absence of 2015 leading scorer Logan Miller by creating much of Kitsap’s attack. Osvaldo Alonso has been one of Seattle’s top performers over the past few seasons and could be called on to keep an eye on Sánchez. Alonso, 30, has been coach Sigi Schmid’s midfield linchpin, playing just ahead of the central defenders to help break up opposition attacks. In 2015, Alonso led MLS with a 92.32 passing accuracy percentage.
Hamza Haddadi vs. Chad Marshall
Hamza Haddadi, 21, has made a habit of scoring goals in big games. In college, he scored 25 goals for Seattle University, including tying the Western Athletic Conference single-game record with four goals in a 6-0 win over UC Davis on Aug. 28, 2015, as well as scoring the only goal of the game against UCLA to make the NCAA Tournament round of 16 three months later. His potential opposite number on Wednesday, three-time MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall, has over 300 professional appearances and more than 50 international caps at the youth and senior national team levels for the U.S. Marshall, 31, anchors a Sounders back line as one of the team’s steadiest performers since rejoining former Columbus Crew coach Sigi Schmid in Seattle in 2014, winning his third individual award as the league’s top defender that year and making the MLS Best XI for the third time.