MATCH: D.C. United (2-11-3, 11 points, 10th, MLS East) at Seattle Sounders FC (6-5-3, 21 points, 6th, MLS West). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Wednesday, 7 p.m., CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 9th (Sounders lead 4-2-2 all competitions). TV: KONG. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
Carrying a five-match unbeaten streak, the Sounders return from the final bye week of the season with two contests in the next four days, against D.C. United at CenturyLink Field Wednesday at Vancouver Saturday. Although the Sounders are three points out of a playoff spot, they have played the fewest matches in MLS and have an opportunity to jump into third place in the Western Conference.
Wednesday’s match is the first of five in July and the only meeting of the year with D.C. United, the MLS bottom feeder with 11 points. With two games in hand on the rest of the league and a favorable schedule, the Sounders have a chance to make a big move this month.
Three of the five matches will be played at CenturyLink and both road trips — to Vancouver and San Jose — are short ones. In addition, just one of the five opponents currently hold a playoff spot, and two of the five — D.C. United and Chivas USA — have the lowest point totals in MLS. Since Seattle has already defeated five of its next six foes this season, the schedule couldn’t have been set up better.
Although the Sounders are coming off a 2-0 setback at Real Salt Lake, they have been hot at home, scoring 11 goals in their past three outings.
D.C. United is in the midst of a horrible year. Its 1-0 win over the Earthquakes June 22 marked the club’s first victory since March 9, ending a 13-match winless streak (0-10-3). D.C. is also winless (0-5-2) on the road, and ranks last in MLS with eight goals and seven assists. For D.C., the only positive is that both of its wins have come against Western Conference teams.
D.C. is led by Dwayne De Rosario and Lionard Pajoy, who each have two goals. De Rosario, who has 102 career goals and won the 2011 MLS MVP, leads the club with 33 shots, including 13 on goal. Pajoy, a Colombian-international in his second MLS season, hasn’t scored since April 21.
A 2012 MLS First XI selection, Chris Pontius leads D.C. with two assists. He scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over San Jose June 22.
For the second straight match, head coach Sigi Schmid is expected to use Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle, Seattle’s top three scorers, in the same lineup, Neagle as a wide midfielder. Schmid tried that at Real Salt Lake June 22 without any success.
“It wasn’t good enough,” said Schmid. “We have to be able to sustain pressure. We have to be able to maintain pressure in the attacking third of the field. We have to have people play and move off the ball and there’s got to be quality of passing.”
Neagle, who has four goals and three assists, said he thinks the lineup can work.
“It’s a matter of time,” said Neagle. “It’s just like the beginning of the season where we were all trying to get used to each other. It’s crazy that this far into the season we’re still trying to figure out what’s going to happen or how to get everyone onto the field at the same time. I think we’re going to be fine. Once we get everyone onto the field at the same time, I’ll be excited to see what we can do.”
Johnson and defender Brad Evans will be making their first home appearances since playing two matches for the U.S. National Team.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Michael Gspurning. Defenders — Leo Gonzalez, Djimi Traore, Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. Midfielders — Servando Carrasco, Brad Evans, Mauro Rosales, Lamar Neagle. Forwards — Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins.
D.C. UNITED PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Joe Willis. Defenders — Chris Korb, Ethan White, Daniel Woolard, James Riley. Midfielders — Kyle Porter, John Thorrington, Perry Kitchen, Sainey Nyassi. Forwards — Chris Pontius, Casey Townsend.
INJURIES: Seattle — GK Josh Ford, out; Steve Zakuani (sports hernia surgery), out; Osvaldo Alonso (abductor strain), questionable. D.C. United — Dejan Jakovic (adductor strain), Lewis Neal (pubic stress reaction), out; Sainey Nyassi (ankle sprain), Ethan White (L hip flexor strain), questionable. SUSPENSIONS: Seattle — None; D.C. — None.
SERIES: Dates to June 17, 2009, when the Sounders and D.C. played to a 3-3 draw in Seattle, which received goals from Osvaldo Alonso (38), Nate Jaqua (45) and Fredy Montero (57). Sounders lead the series at 4-2-2 (all competitions), with three wins at RFK Stadium. One of the most memorable nights in club history came in nation’s capitol Sept. 9, 2009, when the Sounders defeated D.C. to win the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, 2-1. Sounders and D.C. played to a 0-0 draw in their last meeting, April 7, 2012. Seattle boasts a 12-9 all-time goal advantage in the rivalry.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
- REGULAR-SEASON SUMMARY (MLS): Overall: 6-5-3. Last 5: W-L-W-W-L. Home: 3-1-2. Road: 3-4-1. Vs. East: 1-1-2. Vs. West: 5-4-1. March: 0-3-1; April: 1-0-1; May: 3-1-1; June: 2-1-0; July: 0-0-0; August: 0-0-0; September: 0-0-0; October: 0-0-0. Goals For: 19. Goals Against: 17. Differential: +2.
- MLS TEAM RANKS: Goals: 19 (T12). Goals Scored Avg.: 1.36 (9th). Goals Allowed Per Match: 1.21 (6th). Shots: 147 (19th). Shots On Goal: 50 (T17). Fouls Committed: 175 (17th). Fouls Suffered: 177 (18th). Yellow Card Cautions: 16 (19th).
- 4-0-2 when leading at the half, 1-0-1 when tied at the half, 1-5-0 when trailing at the half.
- 6-0-2 when scoring first, 0-5-0 when conceding first.
- Sounders will play five MLS regular-season matches in July, marking the second time this season that the club will play five league contests in one calendar month. Seattle will average five MLS games per month through October.
- Sounders have averaged 1.93 points per game in 15 all-time July matches, the second-best monthly average in club history.
- The Vancouver match Saturday will be the 400th coached by Sigi Schmid in MLS regular-season play. Schmid will become the first in league history to coach 400 matches. He has 178 wins, the league record.
- Major League Soccer will announce the MLS All-Star Fan IX July 7. Six Sounders have been nominated in the fan vote: goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, defenders DeAndre Yedlin and Djimi Traore, midfielders Osvaldo Alonso and Mauro Rosales and forward Eddie Johnson.
SOUNDERS MLS LEADERS
|Starts||Gspurning 14, Traore 13, Tedlin 12|
|Goals||Johnson, Martins, Neagle, all with 4|
|Assists||Rosales 3, Neagle 3, Evans 2|
|Shots||Johnson 22, Evans 17, Neagle 16|
|Shots On Goal||Johnson 10, Neagle 8, Martins 6|
|Fouls Caused||Alonso 18, Neagle 17, Yedlin 16|
|Fouls Suffered||Johnson 20, Rosales 20, Alonso 13|
|Offsides||Johnson 17, Neagle 6, Evans 6|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 44, Martinez 17|
|Cautions||Johnson 4, 4 tied with 2 each|
|Ejections||Neagle, Yedlin, Joseph, Martins, Hahnemann|
D.C. UNITED NOTES: D.C. is coming off a 1-0 home loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps . . D.C. United has not scored a goal from open play since a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City May 19, a span of six matches . . . D.C. defender James Riley played in Seattle for three seasons (2009-11). Riley made 84 appearances with one goal and nine assists for the Sounders before joining Chivas USA in 2012.
COMING UP: Sounders have a short turnaround after D.C. United. They will travel to Vancouver for a Saturday match with the Whitecaps.
Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Schedule / Results
(6-5-3, 21 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