MATCH: Seattle Sounders FC (15-11-6, 51 points, 3rd, MLS West) at FC Dallas (10-11-11, 45 points, 8th, MLS West). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Saturday, 11:30 a.m., Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX. MEETING: 12th (Sounders lead 6-1-4). TV: NBCSN. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
The Sounders aren’t dead yet (it only seems that way) and have another opportunity to clinch a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs Saturday when they tangle with FC Dallas in a rare morning match (11:30 a.m., PT) in Frisco, TX. A win would get the Sounders, losers of three in a row, into the postseason, and a draw plus favorable results from Western Conference opponents would also do the trick.
Seattle would also qualify regardless of the outcome Saturday if both the LA Galaxy and Colorado Rapids win their next matches. Key stat: Seattle is still tied for the league lead with 15 victories, the first tiebreaker for playoff seeding. The gist:
- Sounders will qualify if they win vs. FC Dallas Saturday, or . . .
- They tie FC Dallas Saturday and . . .
- Colorado loses or ties Vancouver Saturday or . . .
- San Jose loses or ties vs. LA Galaxy Sunday or . . .
- LA Galaxy loses to San Jose Saturday or . . .
- Galaxy beats San Jose Earthquakes Sunday and . . .
- Colorado beats Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday
The Sounders will have defender Brad Evans back from international duty after he missed two matches, but the status of Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey, the club’s top three attackers, remains iffy.
Johnson, who trained this week, injured a hamstring while with the U.S. National Team, Martins has an groin injury (missed the Portland match) and Dempsey hurt his shoulder on a hard tackle against the Timbers (X-rays revealed he didn’t break it) and it remained sore throughout the week.
To illustrate Seattle’s poor luck with injuries this season, Dempsey, Martins, Johnson and Evans have never started together. Only against Real Salt Lake Sept. 13, a 2-0 win, did three of the four — Dempsey, Martin and Johnson — get on the field together.
Johnson is not listed among Seattle’s probable starters Saturday, nor is Martins. But Dempsey is probable.
With only two wins to show for its past 19 outings, FC Dallas has been eliminated from the playoffs, but has played strongly at home, garnering 29 of its 41 points.
Dallas posted eight wins in its first 13 matches, but collapsed defensively after that. Dallas has allowed 17 multi-goal games, including seven three-goal games, and has not recorded a shutout since July 20. While eight of the team’s 10 wins have come at Toyota Stadium, Dallas has the third-highest goals allowed average at home in MLS (1.38).
With four losses in the past five matches, Dallas is searching for its first win since Sept. 7. Dallas is led by Panamanian striker Blas Perez, who has 11 goals, ranking T7 in the Golden Boot race, and former MLS MVP David Ferreira, who ranks T5 in MLS with nine assists this season.
Although Dallas has been eliminated, Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid is not banking on the foe having a late-season letdown. In fact, far from it.
“Guys are playing for jobs,” he said. “When a team doesn’t make the playoffs, players know that changes are probably coming down the line, so everybody’s motivated to go out there and play. They’ll definitely come out looser and a little more relaxed and also full of fight. They’re upset that they didn’t make the playoffs and they’re playing for jobs.”
Speaking of jobs, goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, benched against Portland by Schmid for allowing nine goals in two matches, is not listed among Seattle’s probables in Dallas. Marcus Hahnemann apparently will get the call.
“We just felt with Michael [Gspurning] it was just a situation that sometimes you just got to step back and view it from the outside,” said Schmid.
MLS Cup Playoffs
Ten clubs qualify for playoffs, including the top five in points from each conference at the end of the regular season. Seattle could clinch with a win Saturday. The fourth- and fifth-place teams will play a single knockout game Oct 30-31. The winner advances to the conference semifinals, where it will face the first-place team: first leg Nov. 2-3, second leg Nov. 6-7. Conference semifinals are decided by a two-game, aggregate-goal format. Conference championships will be decided by a two-game, aggregate-goal format: First leg Nov. 9-10, second leg Nov. 23-24. MLS Cup will be hosted Dec. 7 by the finalist that finished the regular season with the most points.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Marcus Hahnemann. Defenders — DeAndre Yedlin, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez. Midfielders — Mauro Rosales, Alex Caskey, Andy Rose, Adam Moffat. Forwards — Clint Dempsey, Lamar Neagle.
FC DALLAS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Chris Seitz. Defenders — Zach Lloyd, Stephen Keel, Matt Hedges, Jair Benitez. Midfielders — Andrew Jacobsen, Michel, Jackson, David Ferreira. Forwards — Fabian Castillo, Kenny Cooper.
INJURIES: Seattle — Out, GK Josh Ford (right patella fracture). Questionable, MF Shalrie Joseph (right knee sprain). FC Dallas — Out, Eric Hassli, Ugo Ihemelu. SUSPENSIONS: Seattle — Osvaldo Alonso. 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 won six of the past seven matches between the clubs across all competitions. In the last 10 MLS meetings, Seattle has 20 goals, Dallas 1o. The clubs met Aug. 3 at CenturyLink Field, Seattle coming away with a 3-0 win on goals by Obafemi Martins, Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
- REGULAR-SEASON SUMMARY (MLS): Overall: 15-11-6. Last 5: D-D-L-L-L Home: 10-2-4. Road: 5-8-2. Vs. East: 5-2-2. Vs. West: 10-8-4. March: 0-3-1; April: 1-0-1; May: 3-1-1; June: 2-1-0; July: 2-2-1; August: 4-1-0; September: 3-0-2; October: 0-3-0. Goals For: 41. Goals Against: 39. Differential: +2.
- MLS TEAM STATS: Goals: 41. Goals Scored Avg.: 1.28. Goals Allowed Per Match: 1.22. Shots: 383. Shots On Goal: 1232. Fouls Committed: 416. Fouls Suffered: 402. Yellow Card Cautions: 43.
- 10-0-3 when leading at the half, 4-1-3 when tied at the half, 1-10-0 when trailing at the half.
- 13-0-4 when scoring first, 2-11-1 when conceding first.
- Sounders have lost two or more consecutive games eight times in club history. After the previous two back-to-back losses this season, the Sounders posted a six-game and four-game unbeaten streak. Following Seattle’s previous loss before the current three-game losing streak, the Sounders won five consecutive matches and posted a seven-game (5-0-2) unbeaten run.
- The 20 goals scored by Seattle against Dallas is tied with Colorado for the most scored against one opponent in club history. The +10 goal differential against Dallas is the best in club history.
- Toyota Stadium in Dallas is one of four venues where Seattle has never lost.
- Sounders have scored at least three goals in the past three matches against FC Dallas, including a 4-2 win May 18 and 3-0 win Aug. 3. Saturday’s visit to Dallas will be the team’s first since a 1-1 draw Sept. 2, 2012.
- Brad Evans leads all active players with four goals in the series. He has five goals and three assists in 11 career matches against Dallas.
- Ticket sales for the Sounders’ regular-season finale against the LA Galaxy have topped 64,000, assuring that the club will break its MSL single-season attendance record of 43,144 set last season. The Sounders have set attendance records in each of their five seasons.
SOUNDERS MLS LEADERS
|Starts||Yedlin 28, Gspurning 27, Gonzalez 26|
|Goals||Johnson 9, Martins 8, Neagle 8|
|Assists||Rosales 8, Evans 5, Martins 4, Neagle 3|
|Shots||Neagle 58, Johnson 50, Martins 43|
|Shots On Goal||Johnson 27, Neagle 24, Martins 16|
|Fouls Caused||Alonso 51, Neagle 49, Gonzalez 34|
|Fouls Suffered||Rosales 42, Alonso 36, Johnson 35|
|Offsides||Johnson 37, Neagle 13, Evans 7|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 97, Burch 23, Neagle 16|
|Cautions||Johnson 6, Traore 5, Hurtado 4, Gonzalez 4|
|Ejections||10 tied with 1 each, last Alonso|
COMING UP: Sounders play at CenturyLink Field Oct. 27 against the LA Galaxy in the regular-season’s final match.
Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Schedule / Results
(15-11-6, 51 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||D||1-1||15-8-5|
|10/19||^at FC Dallas||1:00||NBCSN||—||—||—|
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer; #=U.S. Open Cup