Sounders ready for first-place showdown
The agonizing disappointment lingers like it was only yesterday. Seattle Sounders FC had their fine 2011 season end with a stinging playoff series loss to Real Salt Lake.
Sounders won the final match 2-nil but were eliminated because of their stunning 3-nil loss in Sandy, Utah. Both teams are off to tremendous starts in the 2012 MLS schedule and are poised for their first meeting Saturday night at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
I asked Sounders head man Sigi Schmid in our Coach’s Corner show whether that playoff series against Real Salt Lake is ancient history or whether it is part of the motivation for this Saturday’s match.
“It’s history but it’s also something that’s there in our minds,” he said. “Winning in the regular season doesn’t make it equal, but getting into first place certainly helps.”
The “rave green” are on an incredible roll, winning five games in a row to match a franchise record. Sounders have not given up a goal in the past 271 minutes.
Now, their star forward is finding the back of the net. Fredy Montero has three goals in the past three matches, including both tallies in Seattle’s 2-0 victory at FC Dallas last Wednesday night.
Seattle will be without defender Zach Scott for this home game. Major League Soccer suspended the Gonzaga University alum for one game after reviewing his hard tackle on a Dallas player.
Adam Johansson is the likely candidate to replace Scott.
Schmid said Osvaldo Alonso will return to his holding midfield position after resting in the Dallas game. The coach is not sure whether Alvaro Fernandez will be available for an entire 90 minutes. The Uruguayan national teamer has missed the Sounders’ past three games with a quad injury.
Schmid said Real Salt Lake’s experience makes them a dangerous team.
“When you look at the middle of their field, Rimando, Borchers, Olave, Beckerman, Morales and Espindola, they’ve been together for about four years,” Schmid said. “Sometimes the moving parts around that core change but the core remains the same, and that’s why they’ve been a consistently good team.”
Matt Johnson hosts the pregame show at 6 p.m. Saturday. Ross Fletcher and former Sounders goalie Kasey Keller have the call at 7 on 97.3 KIRO FM