Rapids, Sounders get Saturday night national exposure

Jul 6, 2012, 9:27 AM | Updated: 1:43 pm

NBC brings its top television crew to Seattle’s CenturyLink Field for a Saturday night match between Sounders FC and the Colorado Rapids. That means the return of former Sounders voice Arlo White, now NBC’s primary soccer announcer.

It’s the second meeting of the season between the Western Conference foes. In mid-April, Seattle took the first contest 1-nil on Zach Scott’s glancing header off an Alex Caskey corner kick.

The Sounders are coming off a gritty 0-0 tie against Real Salt Lake last Wednesday. Coach Sigi Schmid applauded the defensive effort in enemy territory.

“We want to be a tough team to beat and I think we’ve gotten back to that,” Schmid told me during our Coach’s Corner chat. “Now it’s a matter of the soccer catching up and us playing better and walking away with a win.”

Seattle’s MLS winless streak has reached nine games. The Sounders are sitting on 27 points, fourth place in the Western Conference table. Colorado is coming off a 1-nil home-field loss to Vancouver. The Rapids have 22 points for fifth place.

Burly striker Conor Casey did not play against Seattle the first time. He’s listed as probable for this game with a strained hamstring. Omar Cummings has always been a dangerous target against the Sounders.

Seattle’s starting goalkeeper job belongs to Bryan Meredith again. He was replaced by Andrew Weber for a couple games, but Weber is nursing a strained groin. No. 1 keeper Michael Gspurning has resumed training, but his hip injury is still not 100 percent.

Meredith played solidly in the Real Salt Lake match.

“I know the team has an expectation of me now,” he said, “and they know how I can play. So they want me to exceed that expectation every single game.”

Any time Colorado comes to town, Seattle fans will no doubt focus their ire on Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan. It’s been more than a year since his two-footed tackle broke Steve Zakuani’s leg. While Zakuani has appeared in Sounders reserve games, he has yet to return to MLS action.

After this game against the Rapids, Seattle gets a week-long break from MLS competition. The Sounders host Chivas USA next Tuesday night in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila.

Matt Johnson hosts the Sounders pregame show at 7:30 Saturday night, with Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller picking up the play-by-play at 8 p.m. on 97.3 KIRO FM.

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