MATCH: Seattle Sounders FC (10-7-4, 34 points, T5, MLS West) at Houston Dynamo (9-7-6, 33 points, 5th, MLS East). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Saturday, 6 p.m, BBVA Compass Stadium. MEETING: 8th (Sounders lead 3-2-2). TV: KONG. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
With Eddie Johnson serving a one-game suspension and Obafemi Martins (ankle) not having engaged in a full week of practice, all signs point to newly acquired designated player Clint Dempsey making his first start for the Sounders Saturday when they take on the Houston Dynamo.
Dempsey participated in Sounders training all week. Head coach Sigi Schmid declared him “ready to start” against the Dynamo.
“It’s tough in the heat and humidity, but he’s sort of used to that,” Schmid told mls.com Thursday. “He grew up in Texas. It’s just a question of how many minutes (he will play). He’s a smart enough player to know how to manage his minutes.”
Martins suffered an ankle injury against FC Toronto last week and had to be replaced by Dempsey. His status for the match is uncertain, as is that of Brad Evans, who played for the U.S. Men’s National Team in a friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo Wednesday and logged thousands of air miles to rejoin the Sounders in Houston.
With three consecutive wins and no losses in their last four, the Sounders moved into a tie for fifth place in MLS West, seven points behind Western Conference leaders Real Salt Lake with three games in hand. Seattle ranks third with an average of 1.62 points per game, challenging the pace of the Supporters Shield leaders.
With a victory, Seattle can match the longest winning streak in MLS this season. Three teams (Montreal, New York and Salt Lake) have had four-game winning streaks, and no team has accomplished the feat since the end of June.
During the streak, the Sounders recorded eight goals, including three straight multi-goal games. Seattle ranks fifth in MLS with four three-goal games, and is T4 with 10 wins.
The Sounders are unbeaten in five straight (3-0-2) against the Eastern Conference, and have earned the third-most road wins (4) in MLS this season. Saturday’s match will be Seattle’s first at BBVA Compass Stadium.
“Everybody I know that I’ve talked to that has played there has said that it’s a good place to play,” Schmid said. “The field’s good, the surface is good and the atmosphere is good.”
The MLS Cup runners-up in 2011 and 2012, Houston (9-7-6, 33 points) stands fifth in the East after 22 games. The Dynamo’s four-game (3-0-1) unbeaten streak was snapped last weekend in a 1-0 loss at Real Salt Lake.
Led by goalkeeper Tally Hall, the Dynamo has been the league’s second-best defense this season with a 1.00 goals against average.
INJURIES: Seattle — Out, MF Alex Caskey (right ankle impingement), GK Josh Ford (right patella fracture), MF Philip Lund (right plantar fasciitis), MF Steve Zakuani (sports hernia surgery).; Questionable, FW Obafemi Martins (personal). Houston — Out, FW Omar Cummings (left knee MC), GK Tyler Deric (right thumb fracture); Questionable, FW Calen Carr (left knee), MF Andrew Driver (right Achilles tendonitis), MF Alex Dison (left hamstring strain), MF Boniek Garcia (right abdominal strain). SUSPENSIONS: Seattle — Eddie Johnson. Houston — None. INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Seattle — None; Houston — None.
SERIES: Dates to July 11, 2009, when the Sounders scored a 2-1 victory at CenturyLink field on goals by Fredy Montero and Patrick Ianni. In seven matches between the clubs, Seattle has outscored the Dynamo 10-8. In the last match between the clubs (March 23, 2012), the Sounders won 2-0 on goals from David Estrada and Brad Evans.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
- REGULAR-SEASON SUMMARY (MLS): Overall: 10-7-4. Last 5: L-T-W-W-W. Home: 6-1-3. Road: 4-6-1. Vs. East: 3-1-1. Vs. West: 7-6-3. March: 0-3-1; April: 1-0-1; May: 3-1-1; June: 2-1-0; July: 2-2-1; August: 2-0-0; September: 0-0-0; October: 0-0-0. Goals For: 29. Goals Against: 23. Differential: +6.
- 7-0-2 when leading at the half, 2-1-2 when tied at the half, 1-6-0 when trailing at the half.
- 8-0-2 when scoring first, 1-7-1 when conceding first.
Sounders have never been shut out by Houston, scoring multiple goals in three of the seven meetings.
Seattle has put 40 of its 80 shots on goal against the Dynamo, and has faced just 22 shots on goal.
Brad Davis leads all players in the series with four assists.
Four active Sounders have scored against Houston: David Estrada, Evans, Patrick Ianni and Steve Zakuani.
- For the Aug. 25 match against Portland, the Sounders will expand the capacity of Century Link Field to include 400 additional upper-deck bleacher seats and standing room only. A crowd of 66,500 is expected.
SOUNDERS MLS LEADERS
|Starts||Traore 19, Gonzalez 19, Gspurning 17, Yedlin 17|
|Goals||Martins 7, Neagle 5, Johnson 5|
|Assists||Rosales 5, Evans 5, Martins 3, Neagle 3|
|Shots||Johnson 33, Neagle 32, Martins 30|
|Shots On Goal||Johnson 16, Neagle 14, Martins 12|
|Fouls Caused||Alonso 29, Neagle 29, Carrasco 22, Gonzalez 22|
|Fouls Suffered||Johnson 29, Rosales 22, Alonso 22|
|Offsides||Johnson 27, Neagle 7, Evans 7|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 59, Martinez 17|
|Cautions||Johnson 6, Traore 4, Hurtado 4|
|Ejections||6 tied with 1 each|
COMING UP: The Sounders return to CenturyLink Field Aug. 25 to face the Portland Timbers and conclude the month with a visit to the Columbus Crew Aug. 31.
Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Schedule / Results
(10-7-4, 34 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