MATCH: Seattle Sounders FC (4-3-3, 15 points, 6th, MLS West) at Chivas USA (3-7-2, 11 points, 9th, MLS West). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Home Depot Center, Carson, CA. MEETING: 11th (Sounders lead 4-2-4). TV: KONG. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
Eight days ago, the Sounders were riding the momentum of a six-match unbeaten streak and coming off back-to-back, four-goal games. Since then, the Sounders have been humiliated by the LA Galaxy (4-0) and humbled by the Tampa Bay Rowdies (1-0) of the second-tier North American Soccer League.
The loss to L.A. inspires little confidence that the Sounders can become serious contenders for the MLS Cup, and the setback to Tampa abruptly ended Seattle’s quest for a fourth U.S. Open Cup. In such dire times, along comes Chivas USA exactly when the Sounders need them.
After starting the season with three wins in its opening five matches, Chivas has lost four in a row and is winless over its past seven outings (0-6-1). Although Chivas defeated the L.A. Blues 2-1 Tuesday in Open Cup play, that was not the most interesting development of the week.
Wednesday, the team was sued in Los Angeles Superior Court by two former coaches, Daniel Calichman and Theothoros Chronopoulos, who charged the team with racism, claiming they were fired in March partly because they were not Latino and did not speak Spanish.
Then a dozen hours later, the team sent out a bizarrely worded press release to announce that it had fired its manager, José Luis Sánchez Solá, who is Mexican.
The team still has not fully explained why it canned Sola, other than to state in a mangled press release, “Solar had at his disposal a competitive team with the institutional premise of a formal interaction, based in communication in which the club listened to his petitions to incorporate players approved by him. However, he was not able to reflect it with results.”
All the hoo-hah involving Chivas USA does not sit well with Seattle head coach, who spent a considerable amount of time Friday during a conference call lamenting the changes.
“I think (the disarray) makes them all the more dangerous,” Schmid said. “I wish none of that would have happened this week. I wish they would’ve still had that same coach. I wish they wouldn’t have had to put out the press release. I wish they wouldn’t have had an interim coach right now. Because right now we’re running in the blind. We’re guessing.
“We sort of knew the system of play that the old coach was playing. We didn’t know necessarily who the players were going to be on the field, because they changed the lineup so frequently, but we knew they played with three in the back. We knew that they sort of played with four or five in midfield. Sometimes four and three up front. Sometimes five in midfield and two up front.
“We knew that they were pretty constant in terms of how they tried to approach the game. Now we’re going into the game and we don’t know what changes the interim coach is going to bring. Is he going to switch to four in the back? Is he going to have them play more of a traditional formation? Is he going to have them play aggressively in terms of playing forward and making runs forward, like the team did before?
“Those are all now, for us, unknowns. So from that standpoint, the topsy-turvy week that they’ve had makes it a little bit more difficult for us to prepare.”
While Seattle is 4-2-4 all-time against the Goats, the Sounders have gone unbeaten in their past eight (4-0-4) against them, including two wins and a draw in 2012.
In the last meeting at Home Depot Center (Aug. 25, 2012), Seattle matched a team record with six goals en route to a 6-2 win behind a hat trick from Fredy Montero and three assists from Mauro Rosales. In the last meeting (Sept. 8), Eddie Johnson scored twice, including an 89th minute game-winner, as the Sounders came from behind to win, 2-1.
During its winless streak, the Goats have been outscored 17-3 and gone just 2-3-1 at home, getting outscored 12-8.
In addition to those brutal numbers, Chivas ranks near the bottom of the league with 13 goals (T13), 11 assists (T13), 121 shots (16th), 41 shots on goal (16th) and 49 corner kicks (T15). Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Chivas is 26-57-27, averaging just 0.95 points per match.
All of which is to say, if the Sounders don’t clobber Chivas Saturday it will rank among the major embarrassments in franchise history.
Despite recent travails, the Sounders have a chance to post the second-best start in club history. Three points Saturday would give Seattle 18, five shy of the 23 that the Sounders recorded at this point in 2012.
Seattle will be without designated player/midfielder Shalrie Joseph, who received a red card in the Galaxy match. In addition, the MLS disciplinary dommittee Friday fined Joseph and suspended him an additional game, unanimously determining that Joseph’s hard tackle on Galaxy midfielder Marcelo Sarvas was “egregious, involving contact above the shoulders that endangered the safety of his opponent, and required further sanction.”
“I think he (Joseph) has the right to appeal through the union,” Schmid said Friday. “I don’t know if he’s going to use that or try to pursue that. That’s something that he’d have to be asked. I try not to say anything there so I don’t get in trouble.”
Schmid indicated after the Cup loss that midfielder Osvaldo Alonso could be ready to play Saturday, but that it will be a game-time decision. Steve Zakuani won’t play; he was left behind in Seattle. The team is already without Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans, who are with the U.S. Men’s National Team.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Michael Gspurning. Defenders — Leo Gonzalez, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, DeAndre Yedlin. Midfielders — Brad Evans, Servando Carrasco, Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales. Forwards — Eddie Johnson, Lamar Neagle.
CHIVAS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper –Dan Kennedy. Defenders — Carlos Borja, Mario de Luna, Bobby Burling, Edgar Mejia. Midfielders — Eric Avila, Carlos Alvarez, Josue Soto, Jorge Villafana. Forwards — Gabriel Farfan, Jose Correa.
INJURIES: Seattle — GK Josh Ford, out; Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales, Steve Zakuani, questionable. Chivas — None. SUSPENSIONS: Seattle — Shalrie Joseph (through June 9).
SERIES: Dates to April 18, 2009, when Chivas USA defeated the Sounders 2-0 in Carson, CA. Seattle is 4-2-4 against Chivas USA in MLS play, having gone unbeaten in the last eight meetings (4-0-4). Seattle twice ousted Chivas from the Open Cup semifinals: 4-1 in 2012 and 3-1 in 2010. In the last match, Sept. 8, 2012, the Sounders rallied from a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1 on a pair of goals from Eddie Johnson.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
- REGULAR-SEASON SUMMARY (MLS): Overall: 4-4-3. Last 5: D-W-W-W-L. Home: 1-1-2. Road: 2-3-1. Vs. East: 1-1-2. Vs. West: 3-3-1. March: 0-3-1; April: 1-0-1; May: 3-1-1; June: 0-0-0; July: 0-0-0; August: 0-0-0; September: 0-0-0; October: 0-0-0. Goals For: 14. Goals Against: 13. Differential: +1.
- MLS TEAM RANKS: Goals: 14 (T11). Goals Scored Avg.: 1.27 (T9). Goals Allowed Per Match: 1.18 (11th). Shots: 120 (T17). Shots On Goal: 42 (15th). Fouls Committed: 137 (14th). Fouls Suffered: 133 (17th). Yellow Card Cautions: 12 (18th).
- 3-0-2 when leading at the half, 1-0-1 when tied at the half, 0-4-0 when trailing at the half.
- 4-0-2 when scoring first, 0-4-0 when conceding first.
- 11-8-0 all-time in May, including 3-2-2 last season.
- Unbeaten in 39 consecutive matches when they score first.
- Obafemi Martins leads MLS in scoring percentage with three goals on six shots.
- Servando Carrasco has made five consecutive starts, the most in his career, breaking his previous high of three in 2011.
- Seattle’s next home match is June 8 against Vancouver in the second Cascadia Cup contest of the season. Seating will be expanded to include the upper bowl, and is the first game of the four-match ticket package, which also includes home matches against the Portland Timbers Aug. 25, Real Salt Lake Sept. 13 and the Galaxy Oct. 27.
SOUNDERS MLS LEADERS
|Starts||Gspurning 11, Yedlin 10, Traore 10, Hurtado 10|
|Goals||Johnson 4, Martins 3, Neagle 3, Rosales 2|
|Assists||Rosales 3, Evans 2, 7 with 1 each|
|Shots||Johnson 22, Evans 17, Alonso 12|
|Shots On Goal||Johnson 10, Neagle 7, Evans 5|
|Fouls Caused||Alonso 16, Yedlin 16, Evans 12, Hurtado 12|
|Fouls Suffered||Johnson 20, Rosales 13, Alonso 13|
|Offsides||Johnson 17, Evans 5, Neagle 5|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 31, Martinez 17|
|Cautions||Johnson 4, Evans 2|
|Ejections||Neagle, DeAndre Yedlin, Joseph 1 each|
CHIVAS USA NOTES: The loss to Colorado turned out to be the last match for coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola. After he was fired, the club replaced him on an interim basis with Jose Lios Real . . . Chivas has been outscored 13-1 in its losing run . . . Chivas has lost four in a row on the road, all by shutout.
COMING UP: Sounders return to CenturyLink Field June 8 against Vancouver.
Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Schedule / Results
(4-4-3, 15 points, MLS; 1-1-0 CCL; 0-1-0 U.S. Open Cup)
|3/6||*at Tigres||7:00||Fox Soccer||L||1-0||0-0-0|
|3/23||^at San Jose||7:30||KING 5||L||1-0||0-2-1|
|5/26||^at LA Galaxy||8:00||ESPN2||L||4-0||4-4-3|
|7/13||^at San Jose||7:30||KING/KONG||—||—||—|
|9/21||^at LA Galaxy||7:30||NBCSN||—||—||—|
|10/19||^at FC Dallas||1:00||NBCSN||—||—||—|
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer; #=U.S. Open Cup