But his memories of the tournament go back nearly 50 years.
“My mother cooked for a club called the Los Angeles Kickers,” Schmid recalled this week. “When we came to the country it was 1956, so the Kickers won the championship when I was 5, and I really don’t remember that. But then they won the championship when I was 11, and I remember they played at Wrigley Field – they played the Philadelphia Ukrainians at Wrigley Field in L.A. where the (baseball expansion) Angels played. After the game the players used to go to the clubhouse and they’d be served a full meal. ... I was a little 6-, 7-, 8-, 9-year-old kid just running around the kitchen with my mom, and I was in awe of all these guys.”
All these years later, Schmid will go for his third Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title at 7 p.m., when the Sounders meet the Columbus Crew at Qwest Field.
And while the tournament is no longer this country’s most prestigious soccer championship, it has the longest history – one that dates to 1914 when the Brooklyn Field Club defeated Brooklyn Celtic, 2-1, before about 10,000 fans.
About three times that number are expected at Qwest tonight in what is certain to be the best-attended Cup final of them all.
“I’ve never really had the opportunity to win the championship at home,” Schmid said. “And if (the Los Angeles Galaxy) did it at home, it was in front of a small crowd. I think when we won it against New England – when we won the Open Cup that year, we played at Fullerton (Calif.) and (the crowd was 4,195). But this is going to be a very unique and a very special feeling.”
The Sounders won the title last season at Washington, D.C., and that gives them another piece of Cup history to shoot for: No MLS club has ever defended its Open Cup title.
The Sounders and Crew have met twice in the MLS regular season, a tie and a Sounders’ victory.
The Sounders figure their 4-0 win last month in Columbus was the kind of result that could give the visitors added incentive – if such a thing were needed.
“I think that gives them a little extra motivation, because it probably wasn’t a four-zero game,” said Sounders midfielder Nathan Sturgis, who scored a goal in Columbus. “They actually played pretty well, and they’re a good team. ... But it’s Open Cup final, so you don’t need extra motivation.”