With the Sounders’ U.S. Open Cup date in Florida now set, the club knows it will play Sunday at Los Angeles, Wednesday at St. Petersburgh, the following Saturday back in Southern California at Chivas USA and then the following day against the Chivas Reserves.
That forces considerable lineup juggling by coach Sigi Schmid. But it also poses quite a logistical challenge for Grant Clark, the team administration director who oversees travel.
I spoke with Clark today about arranging all that travel on short notice, with Memorial Day weekend thrown in.
On if this trip is among his toughest logistically: Absolutely. Absolutely. There are so many moving parts it’s unbelievable. We will get everybody where they need to be. It might be a little tricky for some of them. But this one is right up there with the best of them.
On how many flights will be arranged: We are all going to be able to get onto the same plane (to Florida), although we’re going to have to go into Orlando instead of Tampa. It just adds a longer bus ride on Monday, but the league’s travel agent was able to get it. I think our numbers are a little less from LA to Tampa. And then we’ve got guys from Seattle into Tampa. And then the same thing on the way back. So, we’ll get it all done. But it’s funny: number of planes we could end up using from start to finish after the Chivas reserves game, we’re talking, one, two, three, four five, six, seven, eight, nine or 10 to get through the Chivas reserve game: maybe 10.
On if using LAX helps, rather than some smaller airport with less air options: It does. LA we fly direct which is always appreciated. Thank goodness its’ LA twice and not LA and somewhere else, where we would be facing even more challenges. But LA helps. Plus also, LA to Florida, I think we had a few more options than we would have out of Seattle. There’s nothing direct from Seattle. So at least in LA we can go direct.
On non-airline issues such as hotels and ground transportation: The hotels have been OK. We were debating whether to spend the night in Orlando and get them off their feet as quick as possible or just jump on the bus and go straight to where the hotel will be in St. Petersburg. And we decided that’s what we’re going to do instead. The league has a terrific contact with a national sales manager with what’s called Starwood Properties, and they offered us six/seven different hotels that were able to put together three different bus companies, so that all helps, having those kinds of resources. The other thing is we benefit from other teams having been to these venues. Colorado Rapids, for example, gave us a contact at the hotel, which is literally right across the street from Al Lang Stadium where we’ll play. So that’s convenient, and that’s good that they know us and the hotel has dealt with an MLS team before. That all helps. It all helps.
The bottom line: The main thing is we want to win all four games: We want to beat the Galaxy, we want to beat the Rowdies, we want to beat Chivas twice. And if we do all that, all this will all be worth it. That will give me the satisfaction if we get the results on the park. But yeah, this will be interesting. And then who knows what happens next round, right?