Braun: USOC semi biggest game in club history

Chivas USA players recognize gravity of match against Seattle

CARSON, Calif. – Chivas USA have never been closer to a meaningful piece of silverware. On Wednesday, the Goats take on the Seattle Sounders in the semis of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup semifinals. Is it the biggest game in club history?

“I think it is,” said striker Justin Braun. “It’s the first semifinal that [Chivas USA have] ever been in. This club hasn’t done too well in the past in this tournament, so I think it’s a big stepping stone for us.”

Historically, the Red-and-White have been severe underachievers in the US Open Cup. The club had tallied just one win in the competition before this season and had suffered several defeats at the hands of lower-division clubs, including the Charleston Battery and Dallas Roma FC.

The Goats will be anxious to turn all of that around against Seattle.

“We’re looking at Wednesday’s game like it’s a final,” said Marcelo Saragosa. “Two finals in a row. If we can win on Wednesday, then we have the chance to win the whole thing. When I played with the Galaxy, I had the chance to win the US Open Cup, and it’s an indescribable feeling to be the champion of such an important tournament.”

Chivas USA boast an impressive record against the Sounders. The team is 2-0-2 its their rivals in the Pacific Northwest and is the only team in MLS that has never lost to Seattle. That being said, the Goats are being careful not to underestimate their foe.

“Seattle is definitely a quality team,” said Braun. “I think it’s going to be a tough game for us. We have to go in there and execute our game plan and keep being tight defensively. It’s a lot easier to get a win when we don’t let up goals.”

Wednesday’s match will be played at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash. The atmosphere will likely be a lively one – Seattle announced on Monday that the game has already sold out.

“I’ve played there a few times,” said Braun of Starfire. “It’s definitely different. I’ve heard there’s new turf up there, so hopefully it’s the more grass-like turf. We just have to adjust to it and do our thing.”

With a 2010 playoff spot looking more and more difficult for Chivas USA to attain, the Open Cup may be the team’s best chance for silverware this season. With that in mind, they’re more eager than ever to book a ticket to the final.

“It’s huge for us,” said Braun of the game. “It’s an opportunity to get into the finals of the Open Cup. It’s a goal of ours here to win trophies and Wednesday is a good test for us. Hopefully we can play well and advance to the final.”