It's been 10 years, but it doesn't take much for Jon Busch to relive the chills.
“Just the feeling when that final whistle blew,” he said, recalling the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final in 2002. “And the chills you get — I mean, I still get chills talking about it right now — knowing that you just won a trophy.”
The Earthquakes goalkeeper was a member of the Columbus Crew in 2002 when they edged the Los Angeles Galaxy by scoring a single goal to hang “on for dear life” for the coveted Cup victory.
“For me, it was being able to hand the trophy to Brian Maisonneuve, a close friend of mine,” Busch said. “That was his first and only trophy.
“Every player is measured on trophies. And that’s what we want.”
On Tuesday night at San Francisco’s Kezar Stadium, Busch and his Quakes teammates will fight to be one step closer to American soccer’s national championship when they face the Western Conference rival Seattle Sounders.
“It’s one game at a time, as Cup competitions are,” Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop said. “Get through this one, and we’re in the semifinal.”
But reaching the July 10 semifinal match won’t be easy.
Seattle has taken the last three Open Cup tournaments, a fact that has not been lost on the San Jose coach.
“Seattle well-deserved their three Open Cup championships in a row,” Yallop said. “For us, it’s a tough one. They’re Cup-ready, if you like. We want to stop the momentum for them, obviously. We’re at home. We’re trying to win this game.”
The predictable — yet intelligent — tactic of benching the untested and starting his veterans is one Yallop will employ for Tuesday’s high-profile match.
“We’re going to put out a team that’s going to try and win the match. And I think Seattle is going to do the same,” he said.
“But again, it’s going to be tough. They know what they’re doing.”
“They’re a dangerous team,” he said. “Sigi [Schmid] has developed a very good team up there. Look at their roster from front to back.”
Schmid, the German native, has coached the Sounders since 2009, earning the national title every year of his Seattle tenure.
But the Galaxy, when Busch faced them in 2002, were the defending champions, too.
“When you get to this stage and you’re getting close,” Busch said, “you can see that trophy just a few wins away.”
Earthquakes vs. Sounders
WHEN: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Kezar Stadium
ABOUT THE CUP: The Open Cup is the longest-running national soccer competition in the U.S. that is open to all United States Soccer Federation affiliated teams
INFO: thecup.us, www.sjearthquakes.com