MATCH: FC Dallas (8-5-8, 32 points, 6th, MLS West) at Seattle Sounders FC (8-7-4, 28 points, 7th, MLS West). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Saturday, 7:30 p.m, CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 11th (Sounders lead 5-1-4). TV: KING. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
Having disposed of Chivas USA Sunday, the Sounders (8-7-4, 28 points) continue their crawl back into the playoff picture Saturday with a match against FC Dallas. But if all goes well in final negotiations, the Sounders will have on their side Clint Dempsey, considered by many the best American soccer player. News of his pending acquisition electrified Seattle and U.S. soccer Friday.
His availability to play was suggested, but is unknown at least until the transfer from his EPL club, Tottenham Hotspur, is completed — for a reported $9 million, plus a four-year contract worth $32 million.
Dallas started fast with six wins in its first eight matches but has fizzled lately, winning just once in its past 10. With a victory, the Sounders would set a franchise record for longest home unbeaten streak (6-0-3).
Although still beset with injuries, the Sounders will benefit from the return of forward Eddie Johnson, who completed Gold Cup play with the U.S. National Team with two goals and one assist.
Johnson is not listed among Seattle’s probable starters — Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle are slotted at forwards — but head coach Sigi Schmid indicated this week, before theDempsey news broke, that he has not ruled out using Martins, Neagle and Johnson simultaneously as the club’s playoff push intensifies.
“I still think the possibility of all three of them being on the field together makes us a better team,” Schmid told reporters. “It makes us more explosive and harder to figure out.”
FC Dallas (8-5-8, 32 points) will be making its second visit to Seattle this season. The Texans lost 4-2 May 18.
Sixth-place Dallas and Seattle repose just outside the playoff picture. Dallas is even with Vancouver on points but has one fewer win, while Seattle is four points from a top-five spot.
The Sounders have lost once in 10 all-time meetings with Dallas (5-1-4), and enters Saturday’s match with a five-game (4-0-1) unbeaten streak in the series.
Dallas is led by goalkeeper Raul Fernandez, who played in Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game in Kansas City. Fernandez, a Peruvian newcomer who was voted to the Fan XI, has posted seven shutouts and ranks second in MLS with 75 saves.
Blas Perez, the starting forward for the Panamanian national team that lost to the U.S. in the Gold Cup final, will return to Dallas for the first time since July 7. Perez scored three goals with one assist in four Gold Cup matches, and leads Dallas with six goals.
Dallas has several other attackers, including Kenny Cooper, who scored 18 goals in 2012 with New York. Michel (1 goal, 5 assists) and David Ferreira (1 goal, 6 assists) add creative play from the midfield, and former University of Washington defender George John shores up the backline. Dallas also recently signed Brazilian defensive midfielder Erick, but he has yet to make an appearance.
Seattle’s injured list is shrinking. Three notables have been ruled out of Saturday’s match: MF Alex Caskey, GK Michael Gspurning and MF Shalrie Joseph, who signed a new contract with the club last week and is no longer listed as a designated player.
“That was something that was necessary for us to put ourselves in a position to add something significant to our team before (the transfer window closes) Aug. 8,” coach Sigi Schmid told KJR-AM radio Thursday as the Dempsey rumors swirled.
The change in Joseph’s contract marks the Sounders’ latest roster adjustments. The club also waived defender Ashani Fairclaugh June 27, which opened an international roster spot, and released forward Sammy Ochoa July 24, which opened salary-cap space.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Andrew Weber. Defenders — DeAndre Yedlin, Patrick Ianni, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez. Midfielders — Mauro Rosales, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Marc Burch. Forwards — Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle.
FC DALLAS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Raul Fernandez. Defenders — Jair Benitez, Matt Hedges, George John, Zach Lloyd. Midfielders — Kenny Cooper, Andrew Jacobsen, Michel, Je-Vaughn Watson. Forwards — David Ferreira, Blas Perez.
INJURIES: Seattle — Out, MF Alex Caskey (right ankle impingement), GK Josh Ford (right patella fracture), GK Michael Gspurning (left forearm sprain), GK Marcus Hahnemann (right hamstring strain), MF Shalrie Joseph (right calf strain), MF Philip Lund (right plantar fasciitis), MF Steve Zakuani (sports hernia surgery). FC Dallas — Out, Peter Luccin (torn right ACL), Ugo Ihemelu (concussion); Questionable, D Walker Zimmerman (right hamstring strain), MF Erick (hamstring strain). SUSPENSIONS: Seattle — None. FC Dallas — None. INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Seattle — None; FC Dallas— None.
SERIES: Dates to May 16, 2009, a 1-1 draw, Seattle receiving its goal from Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. The Sounders have won five of the past six matches between the clubs across all competitions. In the last nine MLS meetings, Seattle has recorded 17 goals, Dallas 1o. The clubs last met May 18, Seattle coming away with a 4-2 win, sparked by Eddie Johnson’s two goals. The final meeting between the clubs is Oct. 19 in Frisco, TX.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
- REGULAR-SEASON SUMMARY (MLS): Overall: 8-7-4. Last 5: W-L-L-T-W. Home: 5-1-3. Road: 3-6-1. Vs. East: 2-1-1. Vs. West: 6-6-3. March: 0-3-1; April: 1-0-1; May: 3-1-1; June: 2-1-0; July: 2-2-1; August: 0-0-0; September: 0-0-0; October: 0-0-0. Goals For: 24. Goals Against: 22. Differential: +2.
- MLS TEAM RANKS: Goals: 24 (T13). Goals Scored Avg.: 1.26 (11th). Goals Allowed Per Match: 1.16 (7th). Shots: 214 (17th). Shots On Goal: 76 (16th). Fouls Committed: 239 (14th). Fouls Suffered: 237 (17th). Yellow Card Cautions: 27 (T14).
- 5-0-2 when leading at the half, 2-1-2 when tied at the half, 1-6-0 when trailing at the half.
- 7-0-2 when scoring first, 1-7-1 when conceding first.
- Against the next three opponents, FC Dallas, Toronto FC, and Houston Dynamo, Seattle is 13-4-7 and has at least a four-game active unbeaten streak against Dallas and Toronto.
- The Sounders and MF Shalrie Joseph, who agreed to a new contract this week, Joseph will no longer occupy a designated player spot. Joseph started four of his seven MLS appearances, logging 429 minutes. Joseph, 35, is a four-time MLS Best XI player and eight-time All-Star.
- Sunday vs. Chivas marked the first time this season that the Sounders won when allowing the first goal.
- Seattle has one loss in the last 13 August matches (8-1-4), with a +18 goal differential (27 GF, 9 GA).
- Seattle will play eight of its final 15 regular-season matches at CenturyLink Field.
- Lamar Neagle’s goal in the 57th minute against Chivas USA put him level with Obafemi Martins for the team lead with three game-winning goals. His five-goal output matches his career-high from 2011, and with three assists he has set his career-high for points (13). With 10 career goals, Neagle is the seventh player in club history to score 10 or more.
SOUNDERS MLS LEADERS
|Starts||Gspurning 17, Traore 17, Gonzalez 17|
|Goals||Martins 6, Neagle 5, Johnson 4|
|Assists||Rosales 4, Martins 3, Neagle 3, Evans 3|
|Shots||Neagle 29, Johnson 28, Evans 24, Martins 24|
|Shots On Goal||Johnson 15, Neagle 14, Martins 11|
|Fouls Caused||Neagle 26, Alonso 23, Carrasco 22|
|Fouls Suffered||Johnson 24, Rosales 22, Alonso 21|
|Offsides||Johnson 23, Neagle 7, Evans 7|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 52, Martinez 17|
|Cautions||Johnson 4, 4 tied with 2|
|Ejections||Neagle, Yedlin, Joseph, Martins, Hahnemann|
COMING UP: The Sounders will hit the road for three of the next four matches, starting with a trip to Toronto next Saturday. Seattle will visit the Houston Dynamo’s BBVA Compass Stadium for the first time, and will conclude the month with a visit to the Columbus Crew Aug. 31. Seattle hosts the Portland Timbers in the next home match Sunday, Aug. 25.
Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Schedule / Results
(8-7-4, 25 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||L||1-0||7-7-3|
|9/21||^at LA Galaxy||7:30||NBCSN||—||—||—|
|10/19||^at FC Dallas||1:00||NBCSN||—||—||—|
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer; #=U.S. Open Cup