The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
Sounders FC Looks to Clinch Second Seed in Regular Season Finale
Riding a four match unbeaten run in league play, Seattle Sounders FC looks to clinch the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference against the LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer’s final match of the 2012 regular season on Sunday evening. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. PT from The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Sunday’s match against the Galaxy will be broadcast nationally on ESPN with Adrian Healey, Taylor Twellman and Alexi Lalas calling the action. The match can also be heard live on 97.3 KIRO FM with Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller on the call.
Prior to the regular season finale, Sounders FC will conclude CONCACAF Champions League group stage play on Wednesday night against CD Marathon of Honduras. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, and will be carried live on FOX Soccer and 97.3 KIRO FM.
The penultimate week of the regular season clarified the playoff picture in the West. Supporters’ Shield winners San Jose will play the victor of the LA Galaxy/Vancouver Whitecaps FC play-in game while Seattle will meet Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Semifinals for the second straight year. Seeding for the Sounders FC-RSL matchup is still to be determined as both sides are even on 56 points, with Seattle holding the advantage on goals scored.
Seattle continued its strong play with a pair of results last week, helping the club jump to second in the West. Sounders FC battled to a hard-fought scoreless draw against Salt Lake on Wednesday as the team played a man down for the final hour and kept its club record 12th clean sheet of the season.
Four days later, Brad Evans scored twice as Seattle eliminated FC Dallas from playoff contention with a 3-1 win, extending its undefeated streak to four games (2-0-2). Evans earned MLS Player of the Week honors for the first time in his six-year career, becoming the third Sounders FC player this season to be named the league’s top performer.
The final week of the season allows Sounders FC the opportunity to improve their position in the Champions League quarterfinals and the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Having already clinched advancement to the Champions League quarters, Seattle (3-0-0 in CCL) will look to end the group stage perfect with four wins and clinch a top four seed in next March’s knockout round. Wednesday’s match will be the third in just eight days for Sounders FC.
Seattle will then look to secure a top seed in the MLS Cup Playoffs on Sunday against the LA Galaxy (15-12-6, 51 points). Los Angeles, who will host Vancouver in the play-in game, has gone winless in their past three outings after conceding a late equalizer to the Quakes on Saturday.
In This Issue
* Sounders FC Fast Facts
* Attendance Records Broken
* Among the World Ranks
* The Final 10: MLS Cup Playoffs Field Set
* Champions League Update
* Two for No. 3
* Evans on the Spot
* The Rave Green Scoring Machine
* Montero the Set-up Man
* Keeping it Clean
* Meet the Opposition: CD Marathon & LA Galaxy
* Academy Update
* Throw-ins: Meet Roger Levesque, Home Finales
This Week’s Schedule (times are Pacific & subject to change)
Tuesday, October 23 – 10 a.m. Training at Starfire
Wednesday, October 24, 7 p.m. – Sounders FC vs. CD Marathon, Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle
Thursday, October 25 – No Training
Friday, October 26 – 10 a.m. Training at Starfire
Saturday, October 27 – 10 a.m. Training at Starfire
Sunday, October 28, 6 p.m. – Sounders FC at LA Galaxy, The Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.
Monday, October 29 – Travel to Seattle
Remaining Competition Schedule (times are Pacific & subject to change)
Wednesday, October 24, 7 p.m. – Sounders FC vs. CD Marathon, Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle (FOX Soccer)
Sunday, October 28, 6 p.m. – Sounders FC at LA Galaxy, The Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif. (ESPN)
Sounders FC Fast Facts
* Sounders FC is one of three teams to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs each of the past four seasons (LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake).
* Seattle has played the most matches (173) across all competitions since entering MLS in 2009. The team will play 45 matches through the end of the 2012 regular season, second to Toronto FC (46).
* The 2012 Seattle squad is on track with its best goals against average (0.97) in franchise history, set in the inaugural campaign when the team allowed 29 goals in 30 games.
* The shutout against Real Salt Lake was the 12th of the season, breaking the franchise record (11) set in 2010.
* Three matches have ended in a scoreless draw for Sounders FC this season, two of which were against Real Salt Lake.
* Michael Gspurning leads MLS with a 0.72 goals against average, which is third-best in MLS history. No goalkeeper from outside of the CONCACAF region has led the league in single-season goals against average.
* Mauro Rosales is third in MLS with 13 assists and tied for first with five game-winning assists. Seattle improved to 8-0-4 when Rosales scores or assists.
* Eddie Johnson is tied-fifth in the Budweiser Golden Boot Race with 14 goals and Fredy Montero is tied-seventh with 13 goals.
* Sounders FC is 6-2-3 when Christian Tiffert plays, outscoring opponents 23-8.
* Seattle has not lost consecutive MLS games in 65 outings (33-12-20) – the longest stretch in league history.
* Sounders FC improved to 11-2-1 all-time in October games, and the team is 7-1-3 across all competitions in 2012 when on six or seven days rest.
* Seattle has the second fewest losses (7) in MLS this season.
* Sounders FC is 14-0-3 when scoring first this season. Seattle’s current 31-game unbeaten streak (25-0-6) when scoring first is the second-longest active streak in MLS (New York – 56).
Attendance Records Broken
The Sounders FC faithful further cemented themselves atop the Major League Soccer supporters ranks with another impressive showing throughout the 2012 regular season. Seattle’s average attendance of 43,144 set a league record for the fourth consecutive year, breaking last season’s record of 38,948. The total attendance was 733,441, nearly 80,000 more than the 2011 total.
Sounders FC hosted the second-largest crowd for a standalone game in league history when 66,452 packed CenturyLink Field for the 3-nil win over the Portland Timbers on October 7. Seattle hosted over 60,000 fans for two matches this season, which were the two top single-game crowds in 2012. Over 38,000 people attended each of the 17 home matches as the consecutive sellout streak reached 67 games.
Among the World Ranks
The lore of Seattle supporters reaches far beyond the Pacific Northwest. The attendance average of 43,144 would rank near the top of all the professional leagues worldwide. In Major League Baseball, Seattle’s average attendance would ranks third. The average would be sixth in the English Premier League, fourth in Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A, and 11th in the German Bundesliga.
The Final 10: MLS Cup Playoffs Field Set
The penultimate week of the MLS regular season saw the playoff field set as the final four teams clinched the remaining postseason berths. In the West, San Jose secured the Supporters’ Shield and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and will play the winner of the LA Galaxy/Vancouver Whitecaps FC play-in game. Sounders FC and Real Salt Lake are battling for the second and third seeds, and the two sides will meet for a second straight season in the Western Conference semifinals. In the East, DC United, New York and Houston clinched spots in the postseason. With just four points separating the second and fifth seed, playoff matchups are far from settled.
If the season ended today…
Seed 1 (San Jose Earthquakes) vs. Seed 4 (LA Galaxy)/Seed 5 (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
Seed 2 (Seattle Sounders FC) vs. Seed 3 (Real Salt Lake)
Seed 1 (Sporting Kansas City) vs. Seed 4 (New York Red Bulls)/Seed 5 (Houston Dynamo)
Seed 2 (D.C. United) vs. Seed 3 (Chicago Fire)
If two teams are even on points at season’s end, the first tiebreaker is goals scored. Seattle has scored the third-most goals (51) in the West behind San Jose (71) and LA Galaxy (58), and holds a five-goal advantage on Salt Lake (46). If the two sides are still tied, the next tiebreaker is fewest Disciplinary Points. Seattle (558) has fewer than Salt Lake (561), San Jose (597) and Vancouver (634).
We Meet Again
Sounders FC will have a chance at redemption this postseason as the Rave Green will meet Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Semifinals for the second straight season. In the 2011 matchup, Seattle fell behind 3-nil in the first leg before pulling two goals back at home, but ultimately fell 3-2 on aggregate. This season, the sides have met three times, with just one goal combined in the 270 minutes of action. Seattle has shutout RSL three of the past five meetings and Salt Lake has blanked Sounders FC four of the past five meetings.
Champions League Update
With the final round of the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage looming, the final five spots in the quarterfinal round are still to be decided. Two MLS teams have already qualified, and three more are still in contention, meaning no MLS team has been eliminated through the first three rounds of group play.
With its ticket already punched to the knockout round, Seattle will battle for one of the top four seeds when it hosts Marathon on Wednesday. A win would guarantee Sounders FC a top four spot. A loss or a draw could drop Seattle as low as the eight seed. If two teams are even on points, the first tiebreaker is goals scored. The top eight teams qualify for the quarterfinals, and the matchups will be paired according to point total.
Group Team Record (points) Goal Differential (GF/GA)
Group 4 Seattle Sounders FC 3-0-0 (9 points) +5 (9/4)
Group 5 LA Galaxy 2-0-1 (7 points) +7 (9/2)
Group 7 Monterrey 3-0-0 (9 points) +9 (9/0)
Group Matchup Date & Time (Pacific)
Group 1 Toronto FC at Santos Laguna Wednesday, October 24, 5 p.m.
Group 2 Herediano at Real Salt Lake Tuesday, October 23, 7 p.m.
Group 3 CD Olimpia at Houston Dynamo Tuesday, October 23, 5 p.m.
Group 4 CD Marathon at Seattle Sounders FC Wednesday, October 24, 7 p.m.
Group 5 LA Galaxy at Metapan Thursday, October 25, 7 p.m.
Group 6 LD Alajuelense at Tigres UANL Wednesday, October 24, 7 p.m.
Group 7 Monterrey at Chorrillo Tuesday, October 23, 7 p.m.
Group 8 Xelaju MC at CD Guadalajara Thursday, October 25, 7 p.m.
The following are the possibilities for teams still in contention:
Group 1: Toronto FC (2-1-0, 6 points) at Santos Laguna (3-0-0, 9 points) – Toronto needs to win by three goals or more; or by two goals providing they score four or more goals to win the head-to-head matchup. Santos needs a win, tie or loss by one goal to win the head-to-head; or a loss by two goals providing Toronto does not score four or more.
Group 2: Herediano (3-0-0, 9 points) at Real Salt Lake (2-1-0, 6 points) – Real Salt Lake must win by 1-0 so that the teams will be tied on the head-to-head but RSL will win on better goal differential; or win by two or more goals. Herediano must win or tie to advance; or lose by one goal while scoring at least one goal.
Group 3: CD Olimpia (1-1-1, 4 points) at Houston Dynamo (2-0-1, 7 points) – Houston needs a win or tie to win the group. Olimpia must win to advance.
Group 6: LD Alajuelense (2-0-1, 7 points) at Tigres UANL (1-0-2, 5 points) – Alajuelense needs to win or tie to advance. Tigres needs to win to advance.
Group 8: Xelaju MC (2-0-1, 7 points) at CD Guadalajara (1-1-1, 4 points) – Xelaju must win or tie to advance; or lose by one goal while score one or more goals. Guadalajara needs to win 1-0 or win by two or more goals to advance.
Two for No. 3
Brad Evans rarely receives the attention of his goal scoring counterparts, but the versatile midfielder displayed his skill and adaptability over the two matches last week. After filling in as right back and center back in Seattle’s midweek shutout against Real Salt Lake, Evans returned to the midfield to spark the attack versus FC Dallas, converting a first-half penalty kick and regaining the lead in the second-half with the game-winner. It was the second multi-goal game of his career (April 30, 2011 vs. Toronto FC), and he was named MLS Player of the Week for the first time in his six-year career.
Playing in a crowded midfield, Evans is having perhaps his best professional season in 2012. He has already set career highs for appearances (28) and starts (28), and is 13 minutes from matching his career high of 2,294 minutes played. Evans is one goal and one assist from matching his career best from the 2011 season.
Evans on the Spot
Seattle’s all-time leader from the penalty spot did it again. After Fredy Montero was pulled down in the box, Brad Evans stepped up and converted the kick low and to the right for his second penalty of the season. Evans has converted all five penalty attempts in his career, all of which came in the past two seasons with Seattle. His five penalty kick goals since the beginning of the 2011 regular season is tied for fifth in MLS, behind four players who have converted six penalties (Patrice Bernier, Brad Davis, Landon Donovan and Alvaro Saborio).
The Rave Green Scoring Machine
Since the inaugural MLS match in 2009, Sounders FC has been dedicated to scoring goals, and this season is no different. The Seattle attack has scored three goals twice in the past three outings, and the team is tied for third in MLS with 16 multi-goal games this season. Overall, Sounders FC has scored the fifth-most goals (51) after leading the league with 56 goals in the 2011 campaign.
Since entering the league in 2009, Seattle has scored 184 goals in regular season play, which is second-most to the LA Galaxy’s 186 goals. Seattle has averaged 1.45 goals per game over the past four seasons, and the attack features two of the league’s top 10 goalscorers this season in Eddie Johnson (14; T-5th) and Fredy Montero (13; T-7th). Only New York (Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper) and San Jose (Chris Wondolowski and Alan Gordon) feature a pair of top 10 goalscorers.
Montero the Set-up Man
Fredy Montero is one of the league’s most prolific goalscorers, but the crafty Colombian exhibited his strong set-up play on Sunday, assisting on two goals and drawing the foul that lead to the penalty. The match marked the second multi-assist game of Montero’s career (June 28, 2009 vs. Colorado). With eight assists to go along with his record 13 goals, Montero has surpassed his top point total from the 2011 season with 34 points this year. He is the only player to rank in the top 10 in both goals and assists each year since 2009, and he is currently 11th in assists this season, one helper from cracking the top 10.
Keeping it Clean
Michael Gspurning is making a strong case for Goalkeeper of the Year. The Austrian netminder leads MLS in goal against average (0.72) and winning percentage (.725), and is second in shutout percentage (45-percent) and saves percentage (76.7-percent). Gspurning has lost just three matches in 20 games played this season, and all three losses have been to Supporters’ Shield winners San Jose.
Gspurning’s importance to the Seattle squad was highlighted when he was forced to miss matches due to injury. Gspurning started 20 games for Seattle this season, helping the team earn 41 of 56 points for an average of just over two points per match. When he does not start, Sounders FC averages 1.15 points per match with a record of 3-4-6.
Gspurning currently holds the third-best goals against average in league history. If he records a shutout against Los Angeles, he would climb to second all-time with a 0.67 goals against average.
MLS Single-Season Goals Against Average Leaders
Year Player Team GP Minutes GA GAA
2010 Kevin Hartman Dallas 20 1755 12 0.62
2010 Nick Rimando Salt Lake 27 2430 18 0.67
2012 Michael Gspurning Seattle 20 1755 14 0.72
2011 Donovan Ricketts Los Angeles 15 1284 11 0.77
2012 Jimmy Nielsen Kansas City 33 2970 26 0.79
*Minimum: 1000 minutes played
Meet the Opposition: CD Marathon
Club: CD Marathon (HON)
City: San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Stadium: Estadio Olimpico
Manager: Manuel Keosseian
Qualification method: Non-champion with best aggregate record in Honduran 2011-12 season
Previous CONCACAF Champions League appearances: 2008-09 (Quarterfinals), 2009-10 (Quarterfinals), 2010-11 (Group Stage)
Honors: Honduran League – 8 (1979-80, 1985-86, Clausura 2001-02, Clausura 2002-03, Apertura 2004-05, 2007-08 Apertura, 2008-09 Apertura, 2009-10 Apertura); Honduran Cup – 1 (1994)
Official website: http://www.cdmarathon.com
Formed in 1925 by Eloy Montes and his friends, Club Deportivo Marathon is one of the most prestigious clubs in Honduras and will be making its fourth CONCACAF Champions League appearance. Marathon qualified for each of the first three competitions, reaching the quarterfinals in the first two years. In 2008-09 “El Monstruo Verde” (The Green Monster) won its group, but was upset by the Puerto Rico Islanders in the knockout stage. In 2009-10, Marathon fell to Pumas UNAM of Mexico in the quarterfinals. The only Honduran team to beat Argentine powerhouse River Plate, Marathon is coached by Manuel Keosseian, who led the club to three titles from 2007-2009 and replaced Ramon Maradiaga just before the start of the Champions League. Marathon is led by Honduran international defender Jerry Palacios, who competed in the 2010 World Cup with brothers Johnny and Wilson. They became the first trio of siblings to represent a single nation in the same World Cup. Veteran defenders Mario Beata and Mauricio Sabillon also highlight the squad.
LA Galaxy Series Notes
Seattle and LA are even all-time in MLS play at 3-3-2, with Sounders FC holding a slim goal advantage of 10-9. The Rave Green won both previous meetings this season at CenturyLink Field by a goal margin of 6-0, including a 4-0 victory on August 5. Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero have each scored in both matches with the Galaxy this season, and Michael Gspurning has gone 135 minutes without surrendering a goal (Brian Meredith played the second half in the first meeting this season). At The Home Depot Center, the clubs are even at 1-1-1 and 3-3 in goals scored. Montero leads the series with three goals and 24 shots (12 on goal), while the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan leads all players with four assists.
The Galaxy have locked up the fourth seed in the Western Conference with 51 points (15-12-6), and will face Vancouver in the play-in game once the playoffs begin. After starting the season 3-8-2, the defending Supporter’s Shield and MLS Cup Champions have gone 12-4-4, shooting up the Western Conference standings to reach the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. The club is second in MLS with 58 goals scored and 1.76 goals per game, but rank just 14th with a 1.42 goals against average in 2012. LA also ranks second in assists (60), shots on goal (175), and corner kicks (182). The Galaxy tend to get on the board early, ranking first in MLS with 0.82 first half goals per game and are 14-2-4 when scoring first. However, they have scored 31 of their 58 goals this season in the second half, including 27 in the final half hour.
Bruce Arena’s attack is led by the club’s three designated players, as Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, and David Beckham have combined for 95 points this season (32 goals, 31 assists). Keane is tied-third in MLS with 16 goals and has added eight assists, while Donovan is second with 14 assists to go along with his nine goals. Beckham has seven goals and nine assists this season, but has scored just once since July 18. Midfielder Juninho, who leads Galaxy players with two goals against Seattle, has seven goals and four assists in 31 games this season. Sean Franklin (32 starts), A.J. DeLaGarza (30 starts), and Todd Dunivant have manned the back line for LA this season, while Omar Gonzalez, the 2011 MLS Defender of the Year, has just 12 starts after suffering an ACL injury in January. However, the 24-year-old has started the last 11 games, helping the Galaxy to a 6-2-3 record in that span.
MLS Recap: Seattle Sounders FC 3 vs. FC Dallas 1 – October 21, 2012
Brad Evans scored twice to lead Sounders FC to a 3-1 win over FC Dallas in Seattle’s regular season home finale. With the win, Seattle will finish the season as the number two or three seed and will face Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference semifinals.
Sounders FC got on the board first when they were awarded a penalty kick in the 30th minute after Fredy Montero was taken down by Dallas defender Hernan Pertuz in the box. Evans converted the penalty low and to the right to give the home side the lead. Seattle is two for two in penalty kicks this season, as Evans converted the first on March 23 against Houston.
Dallas equalized in the 40th minute when David Ferreira’s free kick was knocked down to Blas Perez in the box, and the striker finished into the back of the net for the to make the score 1-1.
Evans put Seattle up again in the 60th minute. Montero’s quick restart on a free kick played to Tiffert up the left side, who then crossed to a wide-open Evans in the box for an easy score. It marks the second career multi-goal game for the 27-year-old, who scored two against Toronto on April 30, 2011.
Sounders FC extended their lead in the 79th minute when Mauro Rosales scored his third goal of the season. Eddie Johnson fed Montero on the left side of the box, who then crossed to Rosales for a sliding tap-in to make the score 3-1.
Montero’s two assists tonight give him eight on the season, good for second on the team and just two short of his career-high set in 2010.
The win for Seattle moves them into a tie with Real Salt Lake for second place in the Western Conference. If the season ended today, Sounders FC would be the second seed in the playoffs due to their advantage in goals scored over Salt Lake. They can now finish no lower than third place, allowing them to avoid the play-in game against the fifth seed.
Perez’s goal ended a 369-minute shutout streak for Gspurning dating back to September 22. The streak is the second longest in franchise history, just 10 minutes short of Kasey Keller’s streak of 379 minutes from July 25-August 28, 2010.
Sunday’s attendance was 38,755, bringing the total to 733,441 on the season, breaking last season’s MLS-record of 654,466. Sounders FC supporters averaged 43,144 per game in 2012, breaking the 2011 record of 38,948 by 4,646 per game.
MLS Recap: Seattle Sounders FC 0 vs. Real Salt Lake 0 – October 17, 2012
Seattle Sounders FC and Real Salt Lake played to a scoreless draw Wednesday night in front of 38,356 on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field. Michael Gspurning recorded his third straight shutout as Seattle remains three points back of Salt Lake for second place in the Western Conference.
Sounders FC was forced to play a man down for the final hour of the game after Zach Scott was shown his second yellow card for a foul on Javier Morales in the 30th minute.
Gspurning matched his season-high with five saves and recorded his third straight clean sheet, giving him eight on the season and extending his shutout streak to 330 minutes of MLS action.
The six-foot-five keeper came up big late in the game, stopping an open look from Tony Beltran in the box in the 84th minute and making a diving stop on Chris Schuler’s shot from inside the box in stoppage time. Gspurning also rose above the crowd to punch away the ensuing corner kick, then made a save with his foot on a Sebastian Velasquez shot in the box.
The last goal allowed by Gspurning came three weeks ago when Chris Wondolowski scored in the 30th minute for San Jose. The Austrian keeper is five minutes away from matching his season-high of 335 shutout minutes from March 31-April 28.
Seattle had multiple chances in the first half. In the 22nd minute, Osvaldo Alonso’s cross from the right side found Sammy Ochoa, but the striker’s header sailed high. In the 29th minute, Scott got his head on a free kick from Mauro Rosales in the box, but the shot went wide.
In first half stoppage time, Fredy Montero’s free kick from 35-yards out bent to the near post, but RSL keeper Nick Rimando made the save.
Because of Scott’s ejection, Mike Seamon came on for Sammy Ochoa in the 40th minute, marking the first appearance of the season for Seamon and his first action since September 9, 2010, also against RSL.
Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann was on the bench tonight for the first time as a member of Sounders FC.
Estrada Named Sounders FC Humanitarian of the Year
The Seattle Sounders FC announced today forward David Estrada was selected as the 2012 Sounders FC Humanitarian of the Year in recognition of his commitment to community service. Estrada made more than 30 appearances in the community and played an integral role in one-on-one outreach to the Hispanic community.
Estrada also represented the team at three of four “United We Serve” events. In partnership with Seattle Bank, United We Serve is a side-by-side player and fan volunteer program dedicated to grassroots community service projects. Estrada participated in a visit to Merrill Gardens Retirement Community, preparing food boxes at the Hopelink Food Bank and a helping on the Greenbridge community clean-up project.
Estrada will be eligible for the league MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year.
For more information visit http://www.SoundersFC.com
Sounders FC Academy returned to USSDA play this weekend with a trip down to Sacramento to take on San Juan FC. The U18′s (1-1-4, 7 points) came away with a 2-2 draw on goals by Ike and Cody Crook, while the U16′s (3-1-2, 11 points) picked up their third straight win thanks to two second half goals and a Jose Ramos brace.
Retired Sounder Roger Levesque will be at the Pro Shop downtown Thursday, October 25 from 7-8 p.m….On October 24, 2009, Sigi Schmid became the MLS all-time win leader (125) with a 2-1 win over FC Dallas, surpassing then-leader Bob Bradley’s 124 win mark. Five days later, Sounders FC played its first MLS Cup Playoffs match, a scoreless draw with Houston on October 29, 2009…For the second time in four years, Sounders FC beat FC Dallas 3-1 in their regular season home finale. In 2009 that victory clinched a playoff berth for Real Salt Lake, who went on to win the MLS Cup. This season, the win clinched a spot for Vancouver.