MATCH: Seattle Sounders FC (8-5-6, 30 points, 3rd, West Conf.) at New York Red Bulls (9-5-4, 31 points, 3rd, East Conf.). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Sunday, 1 p.m., Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ. MEETING: 7th (Sounders lead 3-2-1). LAST FIVE: Sounders, T-L-T-T-W; Red Bulls, L-T-W-T-L. TV: ESPN. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: La Gran D 99.3 FM.
Riding a five-match unbeaten streak across all competitions, and coming off a 4-1 trouncing of Chivas USA in U.S. Open Cup play Wednesday, the Sounders engage the New York Red Bulls in a Sunday matinee. The game is Seattle’s last of the season against an Eastern Conference opponent. The final 14 MLS matches are against Western Conference clubs.
The Red Bulls are third in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the lead with 31 points. They are unbeaten (5-0-2) at home with a 17-8 goal advantage, and are 2-1-3 against the West. New York ranks third in MLS with 32 goals scored and averages 1.78 goals per game, but has struggled defensively, allowing 1.50 goals per game (16th in MLS).
New York has won just once (1-2-2) since the beginning of June, and most recently dropped a road match at New England, 2-0, Sunday.
Coach Hans Backe’s attack is led by one of the league’s most potent scoring duos in Kenny Cooper and Thierry Henry. Cooper’s 11 goals rank second in MLS, and Henry’s nine are tied for third, despite playing in only 11 games. Henry leads the Red Bulls with five assists. Neither Cooper nor Henry have scored since May 23 and April 28, respectively.
The Red Bulls get help from their back line with Brandon Barklage (two goals and three assists), Jan Gunnar Solli (two goals and two assists), and Roy Miller (four assists).
Regular Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who has missed 12 matches with a hip injury, has returned to full training and could be available against New York.
“He’s definitely moving closer,” said coach Sigi Schmid. “I wouldn’t rule him out for Sunday, and for sure after that he’s probably full in.”
Schmid does not have forward Fredy Montero listed as a probable starter (Eddie Johnson, Mauro Rosales). Montero has not scored an MLS goal since May 19 when he tallied during a 2-2 draw with Vancouver.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper: Bryan Meredith. Defenders: Marc Burch, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke, Adam Johansson. Midfielders: Alvaro Fernandez, Andy Rose, Alex Caskey, Servando Carrasco. Forwards: Eddie Johnson, Mauro Rosales.
INJURIES: (Out) — Andrew Weber (abductor strain), Babayele Sodade (knee), David Estrada (foot fracture). Questionable — Steve Zakuani (leg fracture), Michael Gspurning (hip). Probable — Adam Johansson (hamstring). SUSPENDED: None.
SERIES: Dates to March 19, 2009, when the Sounders, in their inaugural MLS match, defeated the Red Bulls 3-0 in Seattle. The Sounders hold a 3-2-1 advantage in the six matches played, including a 1-1-1 mark on the road. Seattle won 1-0 in its first visit to Red Bull Arena May 15, 2010, but dropped its last visit, 0-1, March 19, 2011. Seattle has outscored New York, 9-5 in the series. Monter leads all players in the series with four goals and 19 total shots (eight on goal). Clubs last met June 23, 2011 at CenturyLink Field, Seattle winning 4-2.
LAST MATCH (July 11): Sounders became the first team since 1937 to advance to a fourth consecutive U.S. Open Cup final with a 4-1 win against Chivas USA at Starfire Sports Complex. Eddie Johnson sent Seattle on its way with a first-half goal, then Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans and Sammy Ochoa scored after the break. The Sounders will play Sporting Kansas City Aug. 8 for the U.S. Open Cup championship.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
- SEASON SUMMARY: Overall: 8-5-6. Last 5: T-L-T-T-W. Home: 6-3-1. Road: 2-2-6. Vs. East: 4-1-3. Vs. West: 4-4-3. March: 2-1-0; April: 2-0-1; May: 3-2-2; June: 0-2-2; July: 1-0-1. Goals For: 23. Goals Against: 19.
- MLS TEAM RANKS: Goals: 23 (T9). Goals Scored Avg.: 1.21 (11). Goals Allowed Per Match: 1.00 (2). Shots: 250 (6). Shots On Goal: 77 (11). Fouls Committed: 242 (6). Fouls Suffered: 251 (5). Yellow Card Cautions: 33 (7).
- Sounders are 4-0-1 when leading at the half, 4-1-4 when tied at the half, and 0-4-1 when trailing at the half.
- Sounders are 8-0-0 when scoring first, but 0-5-4 when conceding first.
- Schmid has used 22 different starters and 19 different starting lineups.
- Goal-scoring breakdown: Seattle’s forwards have tallied 17 times, midfielders three times, defenders twice.
- Sounders and Red Bulls feature Swedish defenders in Seattle’s Adam Johansson and New York’s Markus Holgersson.
- Defender Jeff Parke played his first five MLS seasons for New York and was named to the Red Bulls Best XI team.
- New York defender Roy Miller and Seattle left back Leo Gonzalez have been teammates on the Costa Rica national team.
- Sounders FC technical director Chris Henderson finished his 11-year MLS career with the Red Bulls in 2006.
- Seattle’s backup goalkeeper Josh Ford is from Liverpool, NY.
- New York’s Stephen Keel played for the USL Sounders in 2006.
SOUNDERS (MLS) LEADERS
|Starts||Montero 16, Alonso 15, Parke 15|
|Goals||Johnson 8, Estrada 5, Montero 4|
|Assists||Rosales 6, Montero 4, Caskey 3|
|Shots||Montero 73, Johnson 41, Estrada 23, Evans 16|
|Shots On Goal||Montero 26, Johnson 12, Estrada 10|
|Fouls Caused||Montero 36, Johnson 24, Alonso 21, Scott 20|
|Fouls Suffered||Montero 45, Johnson 25, Alonso 24|
|Offsides||Johnson 22, Montero 8, Estrada 6|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 53, Fernandez 16, Caskey 12|
|Cautions||Johnson 5, Montero 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.
Hans Backe: Backe is in his third season as head coach. In his first season at the helm, Backe led the Red Bulls to the biggest single-season turnaround in Major League Soccer history, taking the club from the bottom of the table in 2009 to Eastern Conference regular season champions in 2010. Backe has enjoyed success in a number of European leagues, capturing four Danish titles with FC Copenhagen (2000-01, 2002-03 and 2003-04) and Aalborg BK (1998-99). He also won the Danish Cup in 2004 and the Danish Super Cup in 2001 and 2004 with Copenhagen. Backe was with Aalborg from 1998-2000 and headed Copenhagen from 2001-05.
COMING UP: The Sounders will then take a two-week break from MLS action but will host an international friendly against Champions League winners Chelsea FC Wednesday. The Sounders will return to league play July 28 at Colorado.
Seattle Sounders FC 2012 Schedule / Results
(8-5-6, 30 points, MLS; 1-1 CCL; 4-0 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||—||—||—|
|8/8||&at Sport KC||6:00||TBD||—||—||—|
|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