The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
Sounders FC Kicks Off Champions League, then Hosts LA Galaxy on Sunday at 6 p.m.
Gaining momentum in league play, Seattle Sounders FC returns home to kick off a stretch of three games across three competitions in six days. It begins with a pair of home matches as Sounders FC hosts Trinidad’s Caledonia AIA in the opening round of the CONCACAF Champions League group stage on Thursday followed by a meeting with the surging LA Galaxy on Sunday evening on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field.
Sounders FC added its newest Designated Player last week in German midfielder Christian Tiffert. Tiffert joins Seattle after 12 years of top level experience in Germany and Austria, including leading the German Bundesliga with 17 assists in the 2010-11 season.
Thursday’s match against Caledonia is set for 7 p.m. PT and will be televised live on Fox Soccer. The match versus Los Angeles will kickoff at 6 p.m. PT on Sunday, and will be played in front of a national television audience on ESPN2 as well as a huge home crowd of 55,000-plus. Both games can also be heard on 97.3 KIRO FM with Thom Beuning and Taylor Graham calling the action on Thursday and Beuning and Kasey Keller will call Sunday’s match.
Amidst a stretch of five games in 15 days, Sounders FC (9-5-7, 34 points) jumped to third in the West and sixth in the race for the Supporters’ Shield with Saturday’s road win at Colorado. Seattle swept the season series over the Rapids with three wins, and the team extended its unbeaten run to five (2-0-3) league games – tied for the second-longest active streak in MLS.
Seattle’s All-Stars led the Rave Green to its first road win in seven outings. Just three days after scoring the late winner for the MLS All-Stars over Chelsea, Eddie Johnson netted the earliest goal in franchise history with his second-minute header, and then provided the assist on Osvaldo Alonso’s second-half game-winning volley.
Johnson leads the team with nine goals and ranks sixth in the MLS Golden Boot race. Mauro Rosales recorded his team-leading seventh assist (seventh in MLS).
Sounders FC now sets its sights on international competition as the four-game Champions League group stage begins at home against Caledonia. Located in Malabar, Trinidad, Seattle will travel for the return leg on August 30 and will play the two-leg series against Honduras’ CD Marathòn in September and October.
The winner of the three-team group will advance to the quarterfinals, which will be played in March of 2013. Sounders FC reached the quarterfinals of the 2011-12 tournament, but fell to Mexico’s Santos Laguna – eventual runners-up to CF Monterrey.
Seventy-two hours later, Sounders FC welcomes the LA Galaxy (10-10-3, 33 points) to the Emerald City in a Western Conference clash. The Galaxy climbed into the fifth and final playoff spot in the West with a win at Dallas on Saturday, extending its unbeaten run to five games, including four wins.
The hectic schedule continues with the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final at Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday, August 8. Sounders FC is vying to become the first club in the 99-year history of the tournament to win four straight Open Cup championships.
Seattle will stay on the road to conclude the five-match stretch against the league-leading San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, August 11 at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Tickets for Sounders FC home MLS and Champions League matches are available at http://www.SoundersFC.com or by calling 800-745-3000.
Upcoming Competition Schedule (times are Pacific & subject to change)
Thursday, August 2, 7 p.m. – Sounders FC vs. Caledonia, Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle
Sunday, August 5, 6 p.m. – Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy, Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle
Wednesday, August 8, 6 p.m. – Sounders FC at Sporting Kansas City, LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan.
Saturday, August 11, 7:30 p.m. – Sounders FC at San Jose Earthquakes, Buck Shaw Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
Saturday, August 18, 1 p.m. – Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle
Upcoming MLS Reserve League Schedule (times are Pacific & subject to change)
Sunday, August 12, 11 a.m. – Sounders FC at San Jose, Nutrilite Training Facility, San Jose, CA
Sunday, August 19, 11 a.m. – Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy, Starfire Stadium, Tukwila, WA
Sounders FC Fast Facts
* Saturday’s match at Colorado marked the first time that two goals were scored in the first three minutes of an MLS regular season game since May 24, 2007 (New York scored twice on Chicago)
* Eddie Johnson’s goal in the second minute set the record for earliest goal in club history. The previous record was four minutes (three times; last: Lamar Neagle, 8/27/11 vs. CLB)
* Aside from Johnson (tied-sixth with nine goals) and Mauro Rosales (tied-seventh with seven assists), Fredy Montero ranks in the Top 10 in several categories, including shots (78; 3rd), shots on goal (27; T-5th), fouls committed (38; T-9th) and fouls suffered (47; 4th)
* Sounders FC is tied-first with San Jose with 11 goals scored between the 61st and 75th minute mark
* Seattle leads the league with just 225 shots against
* With Saturday’s win, the team improved to 3-2-3 at altitude (at Salt Lake and Colorado), including three wins and one draw in the past four regular season visits
* Seattle’s average home attendance this season is 39,537 – over 15,000 more than Montreal Impact (24,052) and over one thousand more than Seattle’s 2011 average (38,498)
The season of streaks continues as Seattle is currently riding a five-game (2-0-3) MLS unbeaten streak, and seven (4-0-3) overall. The season began with the best start in club history at 7-1-1 followed by the longest winless stretch in the team’s four professional seasons. Seattle has since rebounded, sparked by a hard-fought victory at San Jose in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, and have not lost a game since June 24.
Seattle’s current four-game (1-0-3) road unbeaten streak is tied with the LA Galaxy for the longest active streak in MLS. Seattle’s five-game road undefeated run from April 7 to May 26 is the longest in MLS this season. The team also improved to 9-0-1 when scoring first this season (best in MLS), and the Rave Green have now won six straight over Colorado.
Sounders FC are readying for its fifth three-game week of the 2012 season, and the busy stretch is welcomed by the Rave Green. In the previous four three-game weeks, Seattle is a combined 6-2-4, and each of those weeks featured a fourth game in an 11-day stretch. The team has two more three-game weeks this season, including from August 2 to August 8 (part of five games in 15 days) and from October 17 to October 24 (plus a fourth match on October 28).
It will be the fifth time in club history that Sounders FC will play three games across three competitions in one week. In the previous four stretches, Seattle has gone 10-1-1, outscoring opponents 26 to 12. The team rattled off three straight wins over Monterrey (CCL group stage), Columbus (MLS) and Dallas (Open Cup semifinal) from August 23 to August 30, 2011. Later that season, Seattle advanced to the CCL quarterfinals with a draw at Communicaciones, downed New England in MLS play and returned home to win its third Open Cup championship over Chicago from September 27 to October 4, 2011. In 2010, Seattle beat Marathòn in the CCL group stage, won 3-2 over Toronto and defeated Columbus in the Open Cup final from September 29 to October 5, 2010. And Seattle also beat the Chicago Fire in MLS play and advanced past Chivas USA in the Open Cup semifinals after dropping a group stage match to Monterrey from August 25 to September 1, 2010.
Record when playing three games across three competitions in one week
Date Record Goal Differential (GF/GA)
August 25 to September 1, 2010 2-1-0 +1 (5/4)
September 29 to October 5, 2010 3-0-0 +4 (7/3)
August 23 to August 30, 2011 3-0-0 +6 (8/2)
September 27 to October 4, 2011 2-0-1 +3 (6/3)
Totals: 10-1-1 +14 (26/12)
Return to Champions League
Just five months after falling to Mexico’s Santos Laguna in the quarterfinals, Sounders FC returns to the CONCACAF Champions League for the third time, qualifying for the tournament every eligible year since joining MLS. Seattle joins the LA Galaxy and Toronto FC as the only MLS clubs to participate in the CCL the past three seasons. Sounders FC is in group four alongside Caribbean champion Caledonia AIA and CD Marathòn of Honduras. The four-round group stage begins on August 2 and will conclude on October 24. The winners of the eight three-team groups will advance to the knockout round where they will be ranked 1-8 based on their results from the Group Stage and paired accordingly. The quarterfinal round will be played in March of 2013. Seattle faced Marathòn in the 2010-11 Champions League, winning 2-0 at home and losing 2-1 on the road. The CONCACAF Champions League is open to the leading teams from federations throughout North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
2012/13 CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage Schedule
Thursday, August 2, 7 p.m. PT – Sounders FC vs. Caledonia, Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle
Thursday, August 30, 5 p.m. PT – Sounders FC at Caledonia, Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, Trinidad and Tobago
Wednesday, September 19, 7 p.m. PT – Sounders FC at Marathòn, Estadio Olimpico, San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Wednesday, October 24, 7 p.m. PT – Sounders FC vs. Marathòn, Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle
CCL of Years Past
The CONCACAF Champions League has become a staple in Seattle’s competitive schedule. As the club enters the tournament for the third time in four years, Sounders FC can draw from previous experiences in hopes of a successful run of play. Overall, Seattle has played 18 CCL games, going 7-9-2 with a minus-four goal differential (23 goals scored/27 goals allowed). Fredy Montero leads all current Seattle players with four goals and five assists in CCL play. He is one goal from tying Mike Fucito’s mark of five goals and he is tied with Alvaro Fernandez for the all-time assist leader. Montero is also the club’s all-time leader with 1,164 minutes played in the international tournament.
Eddie Goes for 50
It took just 75 seconds for Eddie Johnson to score on Saturday – the fastest in club history – marking his 50th career MLS goal, ranking him 10th all-time among active players. Johnson’s nine goals ranks sixth in MLS and his 0.50 goals per game ranks 10th. He has now scored five goals with one assist in his past six league outings and six tallies in his past eight games across all competitions. Johnson is the second-fastest player (18 games) in club history to hit the nine-goal mark (Fredy Montero – 15 games in 2009).
All Around Ozzie
Osvaldo Alonso’s game at Colorado exemplified why he is the team’s two-time MVP. Alonso opened his 2012 MLS account with a 12-yard, left-footed volley to win the match in the second half. But the Cuban midfielder did so much more than netting the winner. Alonso had perhaps his strongest passing performance of the season with a game-high 81 successful passes to just eight unsuccessful. His previous season-high was 63 successful passes on May 23, which was one of five times this year that he has completed 60 successful passes. His completion percentage of 91-percent on Saturday was the second-highest of the season behind his 94-percent (60/64) at New York on July 15. The tenacious ballwinner also had 13 tackles with possession lost and three tackles won to go along with 12 recoveries, four clearances and two interceptions.
Alonso was named U.S. Open Cup Player of the Round for his semifinal performance against Chivas USA. Alonso scored a goal and assist as Seattle advanced to its fourth straight final. It is the second time the Cuban midfielder has been named Player of the Round by TheCup.us and a select panel of NASR members. Alonso previously earned the honor in the 2011 final against Chicago. He leads the club with four goals in the 2012 tournament.
Mauro the Set-up Man
Mauro Rosales continued to contribute quality service on Saturday, helping Seattle to strike early with a well-placed corner kick in the second minute. The Argentine playmaker has three assists in his past three outings and also assisted on Fredy Montero’s second strike against Chelsea 10 days earlier. Rosales has assisted on five of Seattle’s last 10 goals in league play, bringing his season total to a team-high seven (tied-seventh in MLS) after 17 games. Rosales hit the seven assist mark after 19 games in his record-setting 2011 season. He currently averages 0.43 assists per game (sixth in MLS).
Using Your Head
Seattle’s push to become more goal-dangerous in the air this season has already produced goals. Led by the athletic Eddie Johnson, Seattle has netted nine header goals in MLS this season – tied with DC United for second (San Jose – 17 header goals). Six of Johnson’s nine goals have been headers, and he has scored four header goals in the past five games. The nine headers already surpassed the 2011 season total of eight header goals, and four of Seattle’s five goals against the Rapids this season were headers.
Seattle’s No. 1 keeper Michael Gspurning returned to the Starting XI on Saturday night after over two months on the mend. Although his shutout didn’t last long, Gspurning held strong for Seattle, making several key plays throughout the match, highlighted by his diving stop on Conor Casey’s second-half strike. The six-foot-five Austrian netminder controlled the box with three recoveries, two clearances, one punch and a crucial catch on a dangerous cross as Casey crashed the back post in the first half. Gspurning made three saves to remain top in MLS with a 0.53 goals against average, allowing just four goals in 675 minutes. He improved to 6-1-1 in his MLS career and leads all goalkeepers with a .813 winning percentage.
Seattle Welcomes Christian Tiffert
Seattle’s newest Designated Player Christian Tiffert will join the group soon. The club announced the signing of the German midfielder on Friday and Tiffert will be added to the roster pending receipt of his P-1 Visa. He will occupy one of three Designated Players slots on the Sounders FC roster following the trade of Alvaro Fernandez.
Tiffert (pronounced TIFF-ert), 30, was the captain of FC Kaiserslautern of the German Bundesliga and has more than 280 appearances in Germany’s top flight. Tiffert has 12 years of top level experience in Germany and Austria, and the offensive midfielder led the German Bundesliga with 17 assists in the 2010-11 season. He began his professional career in 2000 with German side Tennis Borussia Berlin. He then joined VfB Stuttgart for six seasons where the team was Bundesliga runners-up in 2003 and German League Cup runners-up in 2005. While with Stuttgart, Tiffert also won the 2000 and 2002 UEFA Intertoto Cup. Following his time with Stuttgart, Tiffert joined Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg in 2006 and won the Austrian Bundesliga by 19 points, posting a plus-47 goal differential. Tiffert returned to Germany in 2007 and spent three seasons with MSV Duisburg before joining FCK in 2010. A native of Halle, Germany, Tiffert made 24 appearances with the German U21 National Team from 2002-04. He began his youth career with Hallescher FC from 1994-98 and played for Tennis Borussia Berlin youth team from 1998-2000.
Club: Caledonia AIA (TRI)
City: Malabar, Trinidad & Tobago
Stadium: Hasley Crawford Stadium (CCL matches will be played at Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, Trinidad; Capacity: 10,000; Surface: natural grass)
Manager: Jamaal Shabazz
Qualification method: 2012 CFU Club Champions Cup champion
Previous CONCACAF Champions League appearances: None
Honors: Trinidad and Tobago Cup – 1 (2008)
Caledonia makes its first appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League after capturing the CFU Club Championship for the first time. The Malabar-based club edged fellow Trinidadian club W Connection on penalty kicks, 4-3, after tying 1-1 on June 21. It was the first Caribbean championship in the club’s 32-year history. Caledonia captured three out of five domestic titles this year, winning the First Citizens Cup, FA Trophy and the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield. The club won six of their last eight league games and finished third in the 2011-12 TT Pro League with 38 points (12-7-2), just two points behind league champion W Connection. A strong offensive unit, they finished second with 34 goals scored and tied-third with a plus-six goal advantage. Six-foot-two forward Jamal Gay, who scored seven goals in league play last season, will lead the attack against Seattle. The Men from Morvant will be without two of its main goal scorers from 2011-12 as midfielder Ataulla Guerra (seven goals) is recovering from a knee injury and leading scorer Devorn Jorsling (eight goals) recently returned to Defence Force, who he played with from 2002-10.
Making his first start for Caledonia in the Caribbean championships final, goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel made a save in the fifth round of kicks to seal the title. Returning for Caledonia are center backs Nuru Abdallah Muhammad and Radanfah Abu Bakr, Guyanese wing back Walter Moore and international teammate goalkeeper Ronson Williams as well as Trinidad U-23 goalkeeper Samuel.
The club is coached by Jamaal Shabazz, who is also guiding the Guyanese national team in the third round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
L.A. Galaxy Series Notes
Sunday’s marquee matchup between Sounders FC and LA Galaxy will be the second of three meetings this season with Seattle earning a 2-nil shutout victory on May 2 for the team’s first home win in the series. Sounders FC looks to level the all-time series with Los Angeles after improving to 2-3-2 earlier this season – Seattle’s first win over Los Angeles in four meetings (0-3-1). Despite some tough results against Los Angeles, Seattle has controlled the Galaxy’s scoring threats, allowing just one goal in 2011 and no goals in the first meeting of 2012. Seven of the Galaxy’s nine goals in the series were scored in 2010. Galaxy captain Landon Donovan leads the attack with one goal and four assists in the all-time series.
Seattle and Los Angeles have also met several times outside of regular season competition. The two sides met in the first round of the 2010 MLS Cup Playoffs as Seattle fell 3-1 over the two legs. The sides also met twice in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals with Seattle winning both meetings, 2-0 in the 2010 and 3-1 in 2011.
About Los Angeles
After a disappointing start to the season that saw the Galaxy get bounced from the Champions League and win just three of their first 13 MLS outings, the reigning MLS Cup champions have returned to form, wining seven of their last 10 contests. The Galaxy currently sits fifth in the Western Conference with 33 points (10-10-3) and is 7-2-1 since the start of June. During that 10-game stretch, the Galaxy has outscored their opponents 24-14, including five games with three or more goals. Overall, they are second in MLS in both goals and assists with 39 and 40, respectively, but rank just 15th in goals against average with 1.52. They lead the league with 20 goals scored on the road, but carry just a plus-one goal advantage away from the Home Depot Center. In addition to goals and assists, LA ranks in the top five in shots, shots on goal, and corner kicks.
Coach Bruce Arena’s attack is led by the Galaxy’s three Designated Players – Landon Donovan (nine goals, seven assists), Robbie Keane (nine goals, six assists), and David Beckham (six goals, nine assists). All three have found strong form of recent. In each of their respective last eight matches, Donovan has 19 points (seven goals, five assists), Keane has 16 (six goals, four assists), and Beckham has 14 (four goals, six assists). Ten-year MLS veteran Mike Magee has added four goals and three assists in 2012, while Chad Barrett and Juninho have a goal and three assists apiece.
Right back Sean Franklin leads LA in minutes with 2025 and has missed just 45 minutes of play in 2012. Fellow defenders A.J. DeLaGarza (22 starts, 1980 minutes) and Todd Dunivant (20 starts, 1734 minutes) have been staples in the Galaxy defense this season. Goalkeeper Josh Saunders has seen the lion’s share of minutes between the posts with 16 starts and a 1.50 goals against average.
Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid began his MLS coaching career with Los Angeles in 1999, serving as head coach for six seasons (1999-2004). Schmid won four major competitions, including the 2002 MLS Cup, and he was voted MLS Coach of the Year in his first season. Assistant coach Ezra Hendrickson played for Schmid’s 2002 MLS Cup champion Galaxy team. The Galaxy’s Bruce Arena served as coach for the University of Puget Sound in 1976 and previously played for the Tacoma Tides of the American Soccer League. As U.S. Men’s national Team coach he returned to Seattle to coach four games between 2002-05.
Other SEA/LA Connections
Several Seattle and Los Angeles players attended UCLA together. David Estrada (2006-09) and Andy Rose (2008-11) played with the Galaxy’s Brian Perk (2006-09), Brian Rowe (2007-11), Michael Stephens (2006-09) and Kyle Nakazawa (2006-09) at UCLA. Perk also played in the USL-PDL for the Seattle Wolves in 2009. Servando Carrasco played with Galaxy midfielder Hector Jimenez at the University of California-Berkeley from 2007-10. Carrasco (San Diego), Estrada (Salinas), Brad Evans (UC Irvine), Patrick Ianni (Lodi), Sammy Ochoa (Riverside) and Daniel Steres (Calabasas) have ties to Southern California. Marc Burch was selected in the second round (24th overall) of the 2006 MLS SuperDraft by the Galaxy. He made three appearances before joining Columbus in July. Burch and AJ DeLaGarza won the NCAA College Cup with Maryland in 2005. Jeff Parke played with Mike Magee while with New York.
Bryan Meredith turns 23 on Thursday, August 2. Andrew Weber will celebrate his 29th birthday on Thursday, August 9…Michael Gspurning will meet fans and sign autographs at the downtown Pro Shop on Tuesday, July 31 from 6-7 p.m…Seattle has not lost an August match since August 20, 2009, going down 2-1 at home to New England. Since then it has gone 5-0-4, outscoring opponents 14-5…August 4 is the 17th anniversary of amateur side FC Seattle’s historic first victory, 2-1 over the NASL Vancouver Whitecaps at B.C. Place in 1984…The referee for Caledonia is Stanley Lancaster (Guyana) and for LA Galaxy is Chris Penso…Seattle will wear Super Cyan in Thursday’s Champions League match. Caledonia will wear all white…The first match of the Champions League tournament is on Tuesday, July 31 between reigning champions Monterrey and Chorrillo of Panama. Real Salt Lake (Herediano on July 31) and Toronto (Aguila on August 1) will both begin CCL play before Sounders FC…With his substitute appearance on Saturday, Andy Rose continues to be the only Sounders FC player to appear in every match (18) across all competitions since his debut on May 5…Eddie Johnson and Andy Rose are the only Sounders FC players who have four yellow card cautions this season and will be suspended if issued a fifth. Rose is now two games away from receiving the good behavior incentive rollback to three cards. Johnson used his good behavior incentive earlier this season. Marc Burch, Fredy Montero and Zach Scott each have three cards.