MATCH: Real Salt Lake (17-11-4, 55 points, 2nd, MLS West) at Seattle Sounders FC (14-7-10, 52 points, 3rd, MLS West). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Wednesday, 7 p.m. CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 9th (Real Salt Lake leads 3-2-3). LAST 10: Sounders 5-2-3; Real Salt Lake 5-4-1. TV: NBCSN, KONG. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
In a battle between the No. 2 (Real Salt Lake) and No. 3 (Seattle) MLS playoff seeds in the Western Conference Wednesday night at CenturyLink Field, the Sounders (52 points) have an opportunity to pull even with the Utahns (55). The match will be the first of two this week for the Sounders, who haven’t played in 10 days, and they likely will be without one injured starter and two more who were part of World Cup qualifying matches Tuesday.
The Sounders have used the same starting lineup in back-to-back matches only twice this season, but that won’t happen against Real Salt Lake. Leo Gonzalez is out with a hamstring injury, Eddie Johnson is coming off a starring role for the U.S. Men’s National Team and Adam Johannson was with Sweden in its stunning 4-4 draw with Germany Berlin after trailing 4-0.
“Certainly with Leo dropping out we can bring in Marc Burch,” said head coach Sigi Schmid. “There’s Steve Zakuani that can still step in and play. Mario Martinez, when he’s around, can step in and play. David Estrada is coming back, Sammy Ochoa has played well. We still have options that we can bring, but it’s good right now to get ourselves into a rhythm and for that group to get some understanding, because they really haven’t had a lot of time together.
In Kansas City Tuesday, Johnson played 89 minutes and picked up an assist in a 3-1 win over Guatemala that advanced the U.S. in World Cup qualifying. Johnson also scored two goals in USMNT’s triumph over Antigua Friday.
Also playing for the U.S. was Real Salt Lake star Alvaro Saborio. He and Johnson flew back late Tuesday night on a private jet hired by the Utah club, and are unlikely participants Wednesday. Johansson did not play for Sweden Tuesday, but will have to fly from Europe.
Winners of three in a row, Real Salt Lake features a formidable forward combination in Saborio (17 goals) and Fabian Espindola (9).
“We want to keep this going,” said RSL defender Tony Beltran. “We’ve said that as far as we are concerned, the playoffs started weeks ago. We want to keep getting results week in and week out and get through October and November.
In addition to a home-field edge, the Sounders have a game in hand on all other playoff teams. Besides Real Salt Lake, the Sounders will also meet the fourth-place L.A. Galaxy before the regular season ends.
First tiebreaker in terms of playoff positioning is goals scored. Seattle has tallied the third-most (48) in the West behind San Jose (69) and the Galaxy (56), and is just two goals ahead of Salt Lake (46). The next tiebreaker is fewest disciplinary points. Seattle (545) has fewer than Salt Lake (547), San Jose (567) and Vancouver (634).
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Michael Gspurning. Defenders — Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Marc Burch. Midfielders — Mauro Rosales, Christian Tiffert, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso. Forwards — Fredy Montero, Sammy Ochoa.
RSL PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Kyle Reynish. Defenders — Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Tony Beltran. Midfielders — Jonny Steele, Yordany Alvarez, Sebastian Velasquez, Javier Morales. Forwards — Fabian Espindola, Paulo Aruijo Jr.
INJURIES (Sounders): Out — FW Babayele Sodale (ACL tear), DF Andrew Duran (ACL surgery). Doubtful — DF Leo Gonzalez (hamstring strain), DF Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (fractured cheekbone).
DISCIPLINARY SITUATION (Sounders): Montero and Alonso will be suspended after their next yellow cards.
LAST MLS MATCH (Sounders, Oct. 7): Johnson and Montero each scored as the Sounders (14-7-10, 52 points) defeated Portland (7-16-9, 30 points) 3-0 at CenturyLink Field. Michael Gspurning recorded his second consecutive shutout in front of a Sounders FC record crowd of 66,452.
LAST VS. REAL SALT LAKE (July 4): Seattle ran its winless MLS streak to nine matches a row, a continuing club record, although the Sounders did get a point in a 0-0 draw in Sandy, UT. The Sounders (7-5-6) had only eight shots on goal, but the leaky defense finally produced a clean sheet.
SERIES: Dates to March 28, 2009, when the Sounders defeated Real Salt Lake 2-0 at home on goals by Nate Jaqua and Montero. The clubs have met twice this season, Real Salt Lake winning 1-0 at CenturyLink Field May 12, and the sides playing to a 0-0 draw in the Utah capital July 4.
VOTE FOR THE GM: Sounders season ticket members will have the option to vote to keep or fire general manager Adrian Hanauer in person at the remaining league matches at CenturyLink Field Wednesday and Saturday. Sounders FC season ticket members need their primary email address, which is registered with the team, and their account ID, which is on their ticket or membership card. The vote, which needs a minimum of 10,000 for validation, began Oct. 7 and will conclude Dec. 7.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
- SEASON SUMMARY: Overall: 14-7-10. Last 5: W-D-L-D-W. Home: 10-4-1. Road: 4-3-0. Vs. East: 4-1-4. Vs. West: 10-6-6. March: 2-1-0; April: 2-0-1; May: 3-2-2; June: 0-2-2; July: 2-0-2; August: 3-1-0; September: 2-1-3. Goals For: 48. Goals Against: 31. Differential: +17.
- MLS TEAM RANKS: Goals: 48 (5th). Goals Scored Avg.: 1.55 (4th). Goals Allowed Per Match: 1.00 (2nd). Shots: 306 (12th). Shots On Goal: 128 (T15). Fouls Committed: 402 (7th). Fouls Suffered: 404 (4th). Yellow Card Cautions: 48 (12th).
- Sounders 7-0-1 when leading at the half, 7-2-8 when tied at the half and 0-5-1 when trailing at the half.
- Sounders 13-0-3 when scoring first and 1-7-4 when conceding first.
- Michael Gspurning ranks first in MLS with a 0.74 goals against average, and also leads the league in winning percentage at .722 (11-3-4).
- Mauro Rosales ranks third in MLS with 13 assists and is tied for first with five game-winning assists.
- Eddie Johnson, who scored two goals for the U.S. National Team Friday, is T5 in the Budweiser Golden Boot Race with 14 goals. He has the third-most MLS goals (Chris Wondolowski, 25; Kenny Cooper, 16).
- Fredy Montero is T7 in MLS with 13 goals, setting a career-high for single season scoring.
- Sounders are 5-2-2 when Christian Tiffert plays, outscoring opponents 20-7.
- Seattle has not lost consecutive MLS games in 63 outings (32-12-19), the longest stretch in league history.
- Sounders are 6-1-3 across all competitions in 2012 when on six or seven days rest.
- Seattle has the second fewest losses (7) in MLS.
- Sounders are 13-0-3 when scoring first this season. Seattle’s 30-game unbeaten streak (24-0-6) when scoring first is the second-longest active streak in MLS (New York – 56).
- Coach Sigi Schmid has used 28 starting lineups in 31 games this season and 25 starters.
- Cascadia Cup Update: With nine points in six derby matches, the Sounders are one point ahead of Portland. The Cup will be settled Sunday when Portland plays at Vancouver. A Vancouver win or draw would award the Cascadia Cup to Seattle for the second straight year.
SOUNDERS (MLS) LEADERS
|Starts||Alonso 27, Evans 26, Parke 26|
|Goals||Johnson 14, Montero 13, Estrada 5|
|Assists||Rosales 13, Montero 6, Caskey 4, Evans 4|
|Shots||Montero 113, Johnson 69, Alonso 33|
|Shots On Goal||Montero 42, Johnson 24, Evans 11|
|Fouls Caused||Montero 58, Johnson 39, Alonso 33|
|Fouls Suffered||Montero 61, Alonso 48, Johnson 44|
|Offsides||Johnson 34, Montero 19, Estrada 6|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 67, Tiffert 26, Fernandez 16|
|Cautions||Alonso 7, Johnson 6, Montero 5|
|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. 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, 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 will come back Saturday with a home match against FC Dallas. CD Marathon will be in town Oct. 24 in Seattle’s final CONCACAF Champions League group-stage match of 2012. The MLS regular season concludes Oct. 28 in Carson, CA., with the Sounders facing the L.A. Galaxy.
Seattle Sounders FC 2012 Schedule / Results
(14-7-10, 52 points, MLS; 2-0 CCL; 4-1 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||D||2-2||8-5-7|
|8/5||^vs. LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN2||W||4-0||10-5-7|
|8/8||&at Sport KC||6:00||GolTV||L||2-1||4-1|
|8/11||^at San Jose||7:30||KONG||L||2-1||10-6-7|
|9/2||^at FC Dallas||4:00||KING||D||1-1||12-6-8|
|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