The Spokane Shadow will host a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup opening-round matchup against the Sacramento Knights of the U.S. Adult Soccer Association next Wednesday, it was announced Tuesday.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and, with two road games the following weekend, the Shadow couldn’t be happier about playing in the friendly confines of Joe Albi Stadium.
“You can’t beat (playing at home),” Saunders said. “Our initial concern is traveling and then traveling the weekend after the game, that would have been more difficult.”
The Shadow, after winning their first four games, all Open Cup qualifiers, had to wait until Sunday’s match between the Orange County Blue Star and the Fresno Fuego to find out if they had made it into U.S. Soccer’s national championship.
Heading into Sunday tied with the Shadow on goal differential, all the Blue Star needed to do was win.
But Orange County racked up three red cards and fell to the Fuego 2-1, ensuring Spokane’s first Open Cup berth since 1999.
And now the Shadow will play host to the Knights, 4-2 overall on the season, in a matchup where they will be considered the favorite, especially at home on Albi’s turf.
“Without a doubt because we’re at home we’ll be considered the favorite,” Saunders said. “I don’t know if (the turf) will be a big advantage, but we suspect they won’t be happy about it. And on your home field, that’s always an advantage.”
What won’t be an advantage is familiarity with the opponent.
With the Open Cup pitting teams from different divisions against each other, matchups, especially in the early rounds, are often between teams with no prior knowledge of one another.
“It’s no different than we have been playing,” Saunders said. “We’ve played three games to get to where we are where we were playing a team we didn’t know anything about, and two of those where teams were traveling to us. We have to worry about ourselves, do what we’re capable of doing and the results will take care of themselves.”
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