Sounders set for final East Coast match

Jul 13, 2012, 9:48 AM | Updated: 11:34 am

They’ve played games in Washington D.C., New England, Montreal and Toronto. On Sunday the Seattle Sounders gladly make their final trip to the Eastern time zone for a match against the New York Red Bulls.

Seattle midfielder Brad Evans is anxious to get the final long soccer journey out of the way.

“The new MLS schedule means fewer games against Eastern Conference opponents, and that’s about 9,000 less miles for us,” Evans said. “After that we have 14 Western Conference opponents in a row. It will be tough, but bodes well because we don’t have to travel as much.”

The players see this game in the nation’s top media market as a great opportunity to display their best soccer. Defender Jeff Parke has family driving up from Pennsylvania to watch him take on one of the league’s top goal-scoring threats, Red Bulls striker Kenny Cooper.

“You’ve got to give a guy like him space at times, but [also] get physical and show him he’s going to be in for a game,” Parke said. “Any time you can keep their backs to the goal and limit their chances you’re doing your job.”

The Sounders have pulled out of their victory drought by getting back to the “nitty-gritty” tougher style, according to coach Sigi Schmid. They also have a man putting the ball in the back of the net – Eddie Johnson.

“He’s scored some huge goals for us lately, including some headers,” Schmid said during our Coach’s Corner show. “That’s certainly added a new dimension for us, but we still want to get goals from other places.”

French striker Thierry Henry has missed several weeks with a hamstring injury but could return for the Seattle game, giving the Red Bulls plenty of firepower.

“We want to make sure we don’t get into a goal-scoring fiesta,” Schmid said. “They have conceded some goals, and we’d like to get forward and score on them. Certainly Cooper and Henry have been the best goal-scoring duo in the league.”

Seattle’s top goalkeeper, Michael Gspurning, is making the trip to New York. The Austrian hasn’t played since May 2 when he injured his hip. Schmid is still leaning toward Bryan Meredith starting again.

The pregame show begins at 12:30 Sunday afternoon with a 1 p.m. kick on 97.3 KIRO FM.

Notes

• Popular Sounders midfielder Roger Levesque is expected to announce his retirement from soccer after Wednesday’s friendly against Chelsea. Levesque told Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley he will pursue a master’s degree in business at the University of Washington.

• The Sounders have sold more than 49,000 seats for the Chelsea match. It’s a hot ticket after Chelsea became the first London club to win the UEFA Champions League.

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