The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
Sounders FC Heads to SoCal for Meeting with Chivas USA
Coming off the first Cascadia Cup win of the season, Seattle Sounders FC hits the road for the next five of six matches across all competitions. The road trip begins this weekend as Sounders FC travels to Los Angeles to take on Chivas USA for the second meeting this season. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. PT at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Saturday’s match will be televised on KING 5 with Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller calling the action, and can also be heard on 97.3 KIRO FM. The match can also be heard live in Spanish on La Gran D 99.3 FM.
Sounders FC rebounded from a difficult week in impressive fashion, defeating the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 2-0, in front of a crowd of 55,718 at CenturyLink Field on Saturday afternoon. It was the first Cascadia Cup win of the season for Seattle as the team remained undefeated against the Caps in MLS play.
Seattle’s stars shined bright as Fredy Montero subbed into the match and made an immediate impact, netting the game-winner after just three minutes on the pitch. Strike partner Eddie Johnson added the insurance goal in the 87th minute, raising his season total to 11 (tied for fourth in MLS).
The weekend’s action continued in the MLS Reserve League on Sunday as winger Steve Zakuani netted his first competitive goals in over 15 months and recent addition Mario Martinez saw his first action with his new club.
Sounders FC is now in sole possession of third in the West, three points clear of Vancouver and Los Angeles and two points behind second-place Real Salt Lake with two games in hand on all three teams. With 10 games remaining in the MLS season, Seattle looks to make a strong push for its fourth straight MLS Cup Playoffs appearance.
The focus now changes to the road as Sounders FC will play five away matches over the next four weeks. Seattle will visit Chivas, Dallas and Portland in MLS play and will travel to Trinidad and Honduras for CONCACAF Champions League meetings. After this stretch of road games, Seattle will have just two away contests remaining (at Vancouver and at LA Galaxy).
The action kicks off on Saturday afternoon as the Rave Green visit Chivas USA for the second time this season. Seattle, who has lost just once (4-1-3) in its past eight league outings, earned a 1-1 road draw in its last meeting with Chivas in May.
Chivas has played the fewest games in MLS and are currently seventh in the West, 10 points out of the fifth and final playoff spot. The Goats earned a road draw on Saturday at Colorado and hope to continue to pile up the points at home before hitting the road for three straight.
The third and final meeting between the two sides will come on September 8 in Seattle’s next home match.
Following Saturday’s match, Sounders FC will return to Seattle for two days before heading to Trinidad to play Caledonia AIA in Champions League play on August 30 and will stay on the road to visit FC Dallas on September 2.
Tickets to home MLS matches are available through http://www.SoundersFC.com, all Ticketmaster Outlets, CenturyLink Field Box Office or by calling 877-MLS-GOAL.
Upcoming Competition Schedule (times are Pacific & subject to change)
Saturday, August 25, 7: 30 p.m. – Sounders FC at Chivas USA, The Home Depot Center, Carson, CA
Thursday, August 30, 5 p.m. – Sounders FC at Caledonia AIA, Ato Bolden Stadium, Couva, Trinidad
Sunday, September 2, 4 p.m. – Sounders FC at FC Dallas, FC Dallas Stadium, Frisco, TX
Saturday, September 8, 1 p.m. – Sounders FC vs. Chivas USA, Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle
Saturday, September 15, 12:30 p.m. – Sounders FC at Portland Timbers, JELD-WEN Field, Portland, OR
Upcoming MLS Reserve League Schedule (times are Pacific & subject to change)
Sunday, September 9, 11 a.m. – Sounders FC vs. Chivas USA, Starfire Stadium, Tukwila, WA
Sunday, September 16, 2 p.m. – Sounders FC at Portland Timbers, JELD-WEN Field, Portland, OR
Sunday, September 23, 2 p.m. – Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes, Starfire Stadium, Tukwila, WA
Raising the Bar
For the third time in four weeks, a crowd of over 53,000 packed CenturyLink Field to support Sounders FC. In all, 177,702 fans have entered the gates at CenturyLink Field for the past four matches, including MLS meetings with LA Galaxy and Vancouver as well as the friendly against Chelsea FC and the Champions League match against Caledonia AIA. In the previous home outing against the Galaxy, a crowd of 60,908 was the second-largest to see an MLS game at CenturyLink Field. The Sounders FC faithful followed that up on Saturday with the third-largest crowd as 55,718 attended the Cascadia Cup match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC. With the 2-nil win over the Caps, Seattle improved to 3-0-0 in MLS games played in front of over 55,000 fans, outscoring opponents 8-1.
All told, 608,602 people have watched soccer at CenturyLink Field in 2012; 511,996 of which came for MLS. The sellout streak has reached 62 consecutive MLS matches. Seattle’s average attendance for an MLS match this season is 42,666 – nearly 19,000 more than second-highest Montreal and nearly 4,000 more than Seattle’s record-setting 2011 average. The entire stadium will be opened one more time this season for the final Cascadia Cup match against the Portland Timbers on October 7.
The largest single-game attendance in MLS history was 69,255 for the L.A. Galaxy’s inaugural home game at the Rose Bowl in 1996. There have been a total of 16 crowds in excess of 60,000 with five of them international doubleheaders. The record for an MLS match is 92,650 on August 6, 2005 at the Los Angeles Coliseum for Chivas USA-New England as part of a doubleheader with Barcelona-CD Guadalajara.
Seattle Top 12 Attendances
67,052 Sounders FC v Manchester United (7/20/2011)
66,848 Sounders FC v Barcelona (8/5/2009)
66,830 Real Madrid v DC United (8/9/2006)
66,722 Manchester United v Celtic (7/22/2003)
65,289 Sounders FC v Chelsea (7/18/2009)
64,140 Sounders FC v San Jose (10/15/2011)
60,908 Sounders FC v LA Galaxy (8/5/2012)
58,218 NASL Sounders v New York (4/9/1976)
56,416 Mexico v China (4/16/2008)
56,256 NASL Sounders v Los Angeles (8/25/1977)
55,718 Sounders FC v Vancouver (8/18/2012)
53,309 Sounders FC v Chelsea (7/18/2012)
Making a Push
Following an imperative 2-0 victory over Vancouver on Saturday, Sounders FC sat back and watched as the rest of the league’s results fell their way. The four other playoff teams in the West secured zero points this weekend as San Jose, Real Salt Lake and Vancouver lost and the Galaxy did not play. Seattle has momentarily secured third in the West and is just two points behind second-place RSL with two games in hand, including one head to head meeting. Sounders FC is 5-3-5 against teams in playoff positions and has four games remaining against Western Conference teams currently in playoff position (San Jose, Vancouver, Real Salt Lake and LA Galaxy), and will also play sixth-place FC Dallas and seventh-place Chivas USA twice. Only one team in the West has more games remaining than Sounders FC (Chivas – 12) while both Seattle and Portland have 10 games remaining. Seattle (1.67) currently ranks fifth in points per game behind San Jose (1.88), Kansas City (1.84), New York (1.76) and Chicago (1.71), and the Rave Green are second with a plus-10 goal differential.
Rave Green Roadmasters
After a quick visit home for the Cascadia Cup match, Sounders FC heads back on the road for five of the next six games across all competitions. Overall, seven of the team’s remaining 13 games will be played away from home, including the longest trips of the year to Couva, Trinidad (4,351 one-way) and San Pedro Sula, Honduras (3,309 one-way). Sounders FC will travel another estimated 20,000 air miles before the season’s end, bringing the season total to just shy of 55,000.
Seattle has had two of the league’s longest road undefeated streaks this season: five games from April 7 to May 26 and four games from June 30 to July 28. The Rave Green currently ranks third in road goal scoring with an average of 1.33 goals per game.
The Fredy and Eddie Show
For the fourth time this season Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson both scored. Montero netted the eventual game-winner just three minutes after entering the match and Johnson added the insurance goal in the 87th minute. The pair has contributed 19 goals this season; already the second-best output by a forward paring in club history (previously 21 goals from Montero and Nate Jaqua in 2009). Overall, Seattle’s forwards have combined for 24 goals, the fourth-most goals by forwards in MLS this season, and the Montero-Johnson combination also ranks fourth amongst MLS forward pairings. Only San Jose (34), New York (26) and Los Angeles (25) have had more total goals by forwards.
Team Forward Pairing Total Goals
1. San Jose Chris Wondolowski – 18 26 (27)
Steven Lenhart – 8 (Alan Gordon – 9)
2. New York Kenny Cooper – 14 25
Thierry Henry – 11
3. Real Salt Lake Alvaro Saborio – 14 20
Fabian Espindola – 6
4. Seattle Eddie Johnson – 11 19
Fredy Montero – 8
5. Los Angeles Robbie Keane – 11 18
Landon Donovan – 7*
*Two of Donovan’s nine goals this season came when playing as a midfielder.
Fredy “Felixing” off the Bench
The King of Cascadia has turned into Seattle’s super sub, exhibiting great focus and determination when coming off the bench. Within three minutes of entering the match on Saturday, Montero found space in the box and knocked the game-winner past the Caps keeper – his sixth in seven Cascadia Cup games. The young Colombian striker put a stamp on the goal by imitating Mariners’ pitcher Felix Hernandez’s perfect game celebration from earlier in the week. The baseball team took notice as Montero will throw out the first pitch in Hernandez’s next start on Tuesday, August 21.
One week prior to his winner against Vancouver, Montero scored six minutes after entering against San Jose and his equalizer at New York on July 15 came just five minutes after he subbed on. Montero has now scored six goals with two assists in 10 substitute appearances for Sounders FC, equaling a remarkable 2.28 goals per 90 minutes. His five goals off the bench this season is tied with San Jose’s Alan Gordon for the most in MLS. Seattle improved to 5-2-3 when Montero scores as a substitute.
Eddie in Form
Eddie Johnson is making the case as one of the best offseason acquisitions in club history. Johnson netted his team-high 11th goal of the season (tied for fourth in MLS) on Saturday as he tapped in a well-placed cross from Brad Evans after solid build-up play in the midfield from Mauro Rosales and Osvaldo Alonso. Johnson is one goal away from tying Fredy Montero’s single season high of 12 goals. With his 11th goal in his first 21 games, Johnson became the fastest to reach the 11-goal mark in club history. The previous mark was Montero’s 11 goals in the first 22 games of the 2009 season. Johnson’s seven goals in the past nine games is the best nine-game stretch of scoring in club history.
The goal scoring strikers may get all the attention, but Seattle’s midfield deserves much of the praise. For the first time this season, coach Sigi Schmid was able to play Brad Evans (right mid), Osvaldo Alonso (center mid), Christian Tiffert (center mid) and Mauro Rosales (left mid) for the final half-hour of the match. Both Evans and Rosales recorded assists as outside midfielders, and Alonso and Tiffert completed an impressive 86.7% of their passes (91 successful passes out of 105 attempts). Evans also posted a high passing rate, completing 84% of his 56 passes as Seattle improved to 35-18-25 all-time when Evans plays. Rosales is now three assists from tying his club record of 13 that he set in the 2011 season. He has recorded four assists in his past four league outings, and he is ahead of last year’s record-setting pace, reaching the 10-assist mark in three fewer games.
Defense is a Team Thing
Sounders FC has become one of the league’s stingiest teams through defending by committee. Seattle has the league’s second-best goals against average (1.00), and on Saturday the defense held Vancouver to no shots on goal – a first for Sounders FC this season. The defense recorded its ninth shutout of the season (tied for third in MLS), and Seattle has allowed the third-fewest goals (24).
One of the reasons for Seattle’s defensive success is Austrian keeper Michael Gspurning, who improved to 8-2-1 in his MLS career for a league-best winning percentage of .773. Gspurning leads the league with a 0.57 goals against average, and he is second in saves percentage at 79.3. With the win against Vancouver Gspurning improved to 6-1-0 at home, allowing just two goals in seven starts for a 0.31 goals against average. Gspurning is vying to become the first goalkeeper from outside of the CONCACAF region to lead MLS in goals against average.
It has been 517 days since Sounders FC last lost back-to-back games in MLS play. Seattle has not dropped consecutive games since July 30, 2011 – the longest stretch in MLS history. The only other stretch that compares is San Jose from 2004-08. The Earthquakes did not lose two straight games for 1,302 total days, yet the club took a two-year hiatus from MLS, lowering their total to 398 days while participating in MLS.
Reserve League Update
Sunday’s MLS Reserve League match against the LA Galaxy provided some much-anticipated highlights for Sounders FC supporters. Fan favorite Steve Zakuani returned to goal scoring form, netting a brace as he lead Seattle to a 3-2 victory. It marked Zakuani’s first competitive goal since April 9, 2011. Zakuani has played 90 minutes in the two reserve games over the past two weekends, and is quickly building match fitness.
Zakuani may have had the spotlight, but newcomer Mario Martinez made his debut in Super Cyan on Sunday, playing 67 minutes. Martinez impressed in his reserves debut, interchanging between second striker and left winger with Zakuani. Martinez has continued in full training with the club and will hope to make his MLS debut this weekend at Chivas USA.
Date Change: Sounders FC to Host San Jose on September 22
As a reminder, Seattle’s match versus the San Jose Earthquakes originally scheduled for September 23 at CenturyLink Field has been moved to Saturday, September 22. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT on KONG 6/16.
Chivas Series Notes
Seattle is 2-2-4 against Chivas USA in MLS play, having gone unbeaten in the last six meetings (2-0-4). The two sides are level with six goals apiece, and three matches have ended in a scoreless draw. Sounders FC is 1-2-2 against the Goats at The Home Depot Center, having earned a 1-1 draw earlier this season on May 26. Seattle twice ousted Chivas from the U.S. Open Cup semifinals: 4-1 in 2012 and 3-1 in 2010.
Chivas USA is currently seventh in the West with 27 points through just 22 games (the fewest games played in the league). The club rebounded from 4-nil loss to the Galaxy to draw, 1-1, at Colorado on Saturday. Despite scoring the fewest goals in MLS (15), Chivas has been able to keep pace with their defense, allowing just 26 goals for a 1.18 goals against average (sixth in MLS). The team has the fewest shots (222) and shots on goal (65) this season, and has netted just six goals in 12 games at The Home Depot Center. Chivas is the only team with no ejections this year.
The club has started a handful of forwards this season. Team leader Juan Pablo Angel has tallies four goals and Jose Correa and Alejandra Moreno have each added two. Juan Agudelo and Casey Townsend each have a goal and assist. The Goats also recently added former Revs standout Shalrie Joseph to the mix. Joseph has started two games since moving joining the team. Defenders Danny Califf and James Riley shore up the backline, and Dan Kennedy has remained strong in net, starting all 22 matches.
Former Sounders FC defender James Riley joined Chivas USA in the offseason. The Montreal Impact selected Riley in the Expansion Draft and immediately dealt him to Chivas for Justin Braun and Gerson Mayen. Riley has played every minute for the Goats this season. In his three seasons with Seattle, Riley made 82 appearances. Sigi Schmid coached Robin Fraser for two seasons (1999-2000) at Los Angeles. Technical Director Chris Henderson played with Fraser for two seasons (2002-03) at Colorado. Schmid coached Alejandro Moreno at Columbus. Steve Zakuani (2007-08) played alongside Chivas’ Ben Zemanski (2006-09) at the University of Akron.
Midfielder Michael Seamon turns 24 on August 30…Sounders FC and Boys & Girls Club of King County will host a United We Serve event on Thursday, August 23. The event will be held at the Boys & Girls Club Southwest Branch from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Visit SoundersFC.com for more details…The stadium location for the CCL match against Caledonia AIA has been changed to Ato Bolden Stadium in Couva, Trinidad…Seattle’s attendance of 53,309 for the friendly against Chelsea was the second-highest attendance in the 2012 Herbalife World Football Challenge. The attendance for the Chelsea-AC Milan match at Sun Life Stadium was 57,748…On August 23, 2011, Sounders FC became the second MLS club to win a competitive match in Mexico with a 1-0 victory over reigning CONCACAF Champions League winners CF Monterrey…Eddie Johnson is one yellow card caution away from receiving a one-game suspension. Marc Burch, Fredy Montero, Andy Rose and Zach Scott are all two cards away from suspension…The referee for Saturday’s match against Chivas USA will be Jose Carlos Rivero.