MATCH: Seattle Sounders FC (7-5-5, 26 points, 3rd, West Conf.) at Real Salt Lake (10-6-2, 32 points, 2nd, West Conf.) TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Wednesday, 7 p.m.., Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, UT. MEETING: 8th (Real Salt Lake leads 3-2-2). LAST 5: Sounders: T-L-T-L-T; Real Salt Lake: W-W-L-L-L TV: KING 5. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
Winless since May 9 (0-4-4) in MLS play, the Sounders take another struggling outfit, Real Salt Lake, which has dropped three in a row, including two at home.
The Sounders almost got out of New England with a 2-1 victory Saturday, but 17-year-old reserve Diego Fagundez netted the equalizer for the Revolution just moments before the final whistle, leaving Seattle with a franchise-worst eight-match winless drought.
“Youre looking at that game going, How did we lose that one? because we played well,” said coach Sigi Schmid. “That hurt a little bit. If we could have pulled that out in New England, you could talk maybe about turning the corner. Right now were still standing at the corner. Weve gotten to the corner, weve peeked around the other side, we know what it looks like.”
The Sounders defense, the biggest weakness in the slide, will start its third-string goalkeeper. In goal is rookie Bryan Meredith, because starter Michael Gspurning remains out with a hip problem, and backup Andrew Weber strained a groin against New England and will be out two to four weeks. Josh Ford was activated off the disabled list this week to be the backup.
Also out is midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, sitting out a one-game suspension after accumulating five yellow cards. It is the sixth consecutive game in which the Sounders have had a suspended player.
Also not in the starting lineup is Fredy Montero, who sat out a suspension in New England and apparently is falling back to his habit of disappearing in games. Mauro Rosales likely will join Eddie Johnson up front.
“Hes got to bring energy with him on to the field,” Schmid said. “We know he brings skill and technique and all those things, but he has to bring some energy back onto the field, as well.
“One of the things we were pleased with in the last two games was our defensive work up front was good. It was a combination of workwe have to make sure we maintain that. Certainly Fredys ability to shoot from distance, his ability to score goals, and his ability to impact games at key moments is something we can always use.
“We’ve got to get back to playing a little bit like we were at the beginning of the year.”
Real Salt Lake already beat the Sounders this season, 1-0, May 12 at CenturyLink Field, and features the fourth-best scoring offense in MLS with 28 goals in 18 matches.
Forward Alvaro Saborio leads Salt Lake with seven goals (eighth in MLS) and 46 shots (19 on goal). Fabian Espindola has added six goals and three assists and U.S. international Kyle Beckerman has four goals with three assists.
Javier Morales has returned from a 2011 injury with two goals and four assists in eight starts. Real Salt Lake’s backline is shored up by veterans Tony Beltran (team-high 1,603 minutes played), Chris Wingert, Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers.
Keeper Nick Rimando is first among MLS goalkeepers with nine wins and sixth with a 1.19 goals against average.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper: Bryan Meredith. Defenders: Marc Burch, Patrick Ianni, Zach Scott, Adam Johansson. Midfielders: Alex Caskey, Servando Carrasco, Andy Rose, Brad Evans. Forwards: Eddie Johnson, Mauro Rosales.
INJURIES: (Out) — Michael Gspurning (hip), David Estrada (foot fracture). Questionable — Adam Johansson (hamstring), Steve Zakuani (leg fracture), Jeff Parke (dizziness). Probable — Leo Gonzalez (quad strain). SUSPENDED: Osvaldo Alonso.
SERIES: Dates to March 28, 2009, when the Sounders defeated Real Salt Lake 2-0 at home on goals by Nate Jaqua and Fredy Montero. The sides split last year, Seattle winning in Salt Lake, Salt Lake prevailing in Seattle 2-1 Sept. 10, 2011.
LAST MATCH (June 30): An Eddie Johnson brace fueled the Sounders in a 2-2 draw with New England (5-7-4, 19 points) at Gillette Stadium. Diego Fagundez scored in the final seconds. In the fourth minute of stoppage time, Fernando Cardenas crossed from the left side into a crowded box, and Fagundez found some space and headed the ball inside the far post.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
- SEASON SUMMARY: Overall: 7-5-5. Last 5: T-L-T-L-T. Home: 5-3-1. Road: 2-2-4. Vs. East: 4-1-3. Vs. West: 3-3-2. Goals For: 21. Goals Against: 18.
- TEAM RANKS: Goals: 21 (T10th). Goals Scored Avg.: 1.24 (12th). Goals Allowed Per Match: 1.06 (3rd). Shots: 228 (T5th). Shots On Goal: 70 (11th). Fouls Committed: 228 3rd). Fouls Suffered: 224 (5th). Yellow Card Cautions: 30 (T5).
- Eddie Johnson’s goals at New England marked his first brace of the season. Johnson has scored in three of the past four matches and leads the team with seven goals. But the Sounders are 0-2-2 in the last four games in which he has scored.
- Johnson has scored four of the team’s past five goals, including Goal of the Week nominations at Montreal and Portland. He is averaging 0.63 goals per 90 minutes.
- Sixteen of Seattle’s 21 goals this season have come from forwards, with two from the midfield and two from defenders.
- The last time Seattle played at Salt Lake, the Sounders snapped Real Salt Lake’s MLS record 29-match home winning streak.
- Johnson and Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis played together for four seasons (2001-2004) with the Dallas Burn.
- Patrick Ianni’s side-winding volley against Sporting Kansas City won MLS Goal of the Week.
- The MLS All-Star First XI will be announced Sunday.
- With the draw at New England, the Sounders have earned points in 10 of 14 matches (4-5-6) immediately following an Open Cup match.
- Only three teams have allowed fewer goals than the Sounders FC (18): Columbus Crew (15), Sporting Kansas City (16) and Philadelphia Union (17).
- The Sounders have allowed the first goal in eight consecutive MLS games, and haven’t won any.
- Sounders 7-0-0 when scoring first, 0-5-4 when conceding first. Sounders 4-0-1 when leading at the half, 0-4-1 when trailing at the half.
- Seattle is 2-1-3 in Cascadia Cup play since all three teams entered MLS.
- Sounders are 2-1-0 in March, 2-0-1 in April, 3-2-2 in May and 0-2-2 in June.
- Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who has missed 10 matches with a hip injury, has started training again, but no timeline for his return has been established.
- GK Josh Ford is back from the disabled list, where he has been since May 4 with a right knee stress fracture.
SOUNDERS (MLS) LEADERS
|Starts||Montero 15, Alonso 14, Evans 13, Burch 13|
|Goals||Johnson 7, Estrada 5, Montero 4|
|Assists||Montero 4, Rosales 4, Caskey 3|
|Shots||Montero 70, Johnson 33, Estrada 23, Evans 16|
|Shots On Goal||Montero 26, Estrada 10, Johnson 9, Evans 7|
|Fouls Caused||Montero 34, Johnson 22, Alonso 21, Scott 19|
|Fouls Suffered||Montero 44, Alonso 24, Johnson 20|
|Offsides||Johnson 21, Montero 7, Estrada 6|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 39, Fernandez 16, Caskey 12|
|Cautions||Montero 4, Johnson 4, Scott 4|
|Ejections||Hurtado 1, Fernandez 1, Montero 1|
COACHES: Sigi Schmid became first head coach of Seattle Sounders FC Dec. 16, 2008, and is in his fourth year. Born in Tübingen, Germany, Schmid relocated with his family to the U.S. in 1956, and to Torrance, CA., in 1962. He was a four-year starter at UCLA (1972-75) and graduated with a B.S. degree in economics in 1976.
Schmid later earned a M.A. in business administration from Southern California. A certified public accountant, Schmid coached the Los Angeles Galaxy from 1999 through 2004, winning four major competitions: 2002 MLS Cup, 2002 MLS Supporters Shield, 2001 U.S. Open Cup and the 2001 CONCACAF Champions Cup. He coached the Columbus Crew from 2006-08, winning the MLS Cup in his final season.
In 2009, under Schmid’s direction, the Sounders became the first expansion team to reach the MLS playoffs since the 1998 Chicago Fire. The Sounders also won the U.S. Open Cup in Schmid’s first season. They added their second and third U.S. Open Cup titles in 2010 and 2011.
Jason Kreis: Kreis became manager of Real Salt Lake in 2007. At the time of his hire, he was the youngest active head coach in MLS at 34 years, 127 days. He led Salt Lake to its first-post season playoff appearance in 2008 and in 2009 coached the team to its first MLS Cup championship. He has guided Real Salt Lake to the CONCACAF Champions League knockout round in the 2010-11 season by winning Group A. A native of Omaha, NB., Kreis is the first American-born player in MLS history to earn MVP honors (Kreis remains one of just three U.S.-born MVPs in 16 MLS seasons), capturing the 1999 award after leading the Dallas Burn in goals (18) and assists (15).
COMING UP: Sounders return to CenturyLink Field Saturday to host the Colorado Rapids, televised on NBC Sports Network. The Sounders will host Chivas USA Wednesday, July 10, in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup at Starfire.
Seattle Sounders FC 2012 Schedule / Results
(7-5-5, 25 points, MLS; 1-1 CCL; 2-0 U.S. Open Cup)
|4/7||^at DC United||4:30||KING||D||0-0||2-1-1|
|5/9||^at FC Dallas||5:30||KONG||W||2-0||7-1-1|
|6/26||&at San Jose||7:30||Webcast||W||1-0||3-0-0|
|6/30||^at New England||4:30||KONG||D||2-2||7-5-5|
|7/15||^at New York||1:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
|8/5||^vs. LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN2||—||—||—|
|8/11||^at San Jose||7:30||KING||—||—||—|
|9/2||^at FC Dallas||4:00||KING||—||—||—|
|10/21||^vs. FC Dallas||6:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
|10/28||^at LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer; #=International friendly; &=U.S. Open Cup