The Sounders are amid their sorriest stretch in franchise history — three losses and two ties in the past five matches. Due Up: Sporting Kansas City Wednesday.
MATCH: Sporting Kansas City (9-3-1, 28 points, 2nd, East Conf.) at Seattle Sounders FC (7-4-3, 24 points, 4th, West Conf.). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Wednesday, 7 p.m., CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 7th (Sounders lead 5-1). LAST 5: Sporting Kansas City: L-L-T-W-W; Sounders: L-T-L-T-L. TV: KONG 6/16. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
For a club aiming to rank among the elite in the world, the last five matches for the Sounders look pretty lame — L-T-L-T-L. In fact, Seattle has never endured a worse five-game stretch in its four-year history, and that coming off what had been the best start in club history (7-3-3).
According to head coach Sigi Schmid, whose side takes on Sporting Kansas City (9-3-1, 28 points) Wednesday at Century Link Field, what’s wrong with the Sounders is that they’re messed up between the ears.
“We have to change our mentality. I think we got off to such a good start — as everybody said, the best start in franchise history — and what happens then is invariably you pat yourself on the back a little bit,” said Schmid. “You just subconsciously relax a little bit. We’ve got to get out of that relaxation mode.
Everyone individually needs to play better or we need to put guys on the field who can play better. We just need to find guys who can play better.
Seattle is in the midst of seven matches in 22 days and will be facing one of the elite teams in the East. Sporting Kansas City owns the MLS’s longest winning streak this season — seven matches — and owns a 0.77 goals-against average, best in the league (Seattle is at 0.93).
Coach Peter Vermes‘ attack is directed by forwards Kei Kamara and C.J. Sapong, both of whom have scored five goals. Midfielder Graham Zusi is tied for first in MLS with eight assists this season, including one in each of his last two games, and is the only non-defensive player to play in all 13 games this season.
Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen has been strong in the net this season and is tied for first in MLS with six shutouts. His 0.77 goals against average is third in MLS, but first among goalkeepers with at least 10 starts.
Defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado won’t play Wednesday as he sits out a suspension after drawing a red card in Montreal Saturday (Sounders opted to not appeal the suspension). Although Hurtado will be out, defenders Patrick Ianni (back) and Leo Gonzalez (quad) will be available to play after recovering from injuries.
Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso will also be eligible to play after serving a two-game suspension for making a dangerous tackle May 23 vs. Columbus. This will mark Alonso’s first home match as a U.S. citizen. Alonso, who defected from Cuba five years, ago, passed his test June 14.
Starting goalkeeper Michael Gspurning is once again listed as doubtful.
SERIES: Dates to April 11, 2009, when the Sounders lost 1-0 at Kansas City. The Sounders have won every match since. The sides last met Aug. 6, 2011 in Kansas City, the Sounders winning 2-1on goals from Mauro Rosales and Lamar Neagle.
LAST MATCH (Sounders, June 16): The Montreal Impact crushed the Sounders 4-1 in the inaugural game at Stade Saputo. Eddie Johnson scored Seattle’s lone goal and Patrice Bernier had three assists for Montreal. The loss for Sounders FC (7-4-3, 24 points) snapped a ten-match road unbeaten streak, second best all-time in MLS, dating back to July 30, 2011. Montreal (4-7-3, 15 points) ended a three-match winless streak, and its four goals set a franchise record.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
SOUNDERS (MLS) LEADERS
|Starts||Montero 13, Estrada 12, Alonso 11, Parke 11|
|Goals||Estrada 5, Montero 4, Johnson 4, three with 1|
|Assists||Montero 4, Caskey 3, Fernandez 2, Rosales 2|
|Shots||Montero 66, Johnson 25, Estrada 23, Evans 12|
|Shots On Goal||Montero 24, Estrada 10, Evans 6, Alonso 3|
|Fouls Caused||Montero 27, Alonso 18, Johnson 17, Scott 15|
|Fouls Suffered||Montero 38, Alonso 20, Fernandez 15|
|Offsides||Johnson 13, Montero 6, Estrada 6|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 27, Fernandez 16, Montero 10, Caskey 10|
|Cautions||Montero 4, Johnson 4, Alonso 3, Scott 3|
COACHES: Sigi Schmid became first head coach of Seattle Sounders FC Dec. 16, 2008, and is in his fourth year. Born in Tübingen, Germany, Schmid relocated with his family to the U.S. in 1956, and to Torrance, CA., in 1962. He was a four-year starter at UCLA (1972-75) and graduated with a B.S. degree in economics in 1976.
Schmid later earned a M.A. in business administration from Southern California. A certified public accountant, Schmid coached the Los Angeles Galaxy from 1999 through 2004, winning four major competitions: 2002 MLS Cup, 2002 MLS Supporters Shield, 2001 U.S. Open Cup and the 2001 CONCACAF Champions Cup. He coached the Columbus Crew from 2006-08, winning the MLS Cup in his final season.
In 2009, under Schmid’s direction, the Sounders became the first expansion team to reach the MLS playoffs since the 1998 Chicago Fire. The Sounders also won the U.S. Open Cup in Schmid’s first season. They added their second and third U.S. Open Cup titles in 2010 and 2011.
Peter Vermes: Vermes oversees all soccer operations for Sporting Kansas City, including the active roster and the Sporting Kansas City Juniors program. Vermes, an original member of Major League Soccer, retired from the League in 2002, closing out his playing career with Kansas City after stints with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars and Colorado Rapids. Vermes represented the U.S. in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and was named 1988 U.S. Male Soccer Athlete of the Year for his efforts.
NORTH PARKING LOT CHANGE: Due to construction in the north lot of CenturyLink Field, a new entrance will be in use for the match, approximately 100 feet east of the current entrance. Sounders FC fans are encouraged to arrive early A temporary vehicle exit onto Occidental Avenue South will be open immediately following the game to help traffic flow. The construction is part of the 1.5 million-square-foot development planned for the lot north of CenturyLink Field. The mixed-use development will include housing, a hotel, office space, and retail.
COMING UP: The Sounders will head to Portland for their second Cascadia Cup match of the season against the rival Timbers Sunday.
Seattle Sounders FC 2012 Schedule / Results
(7-4-3, 24 points, MLS; 1-1 CCL; 2-0 U.S. Open Cup)
|4/7||^at DC United||4:30||KING||D||0-0||2-1-1|
|5/9||^at FC Dallas||5:30||KONG||W||2-0||7-1-1|
|6/26||&at San Jose||7:30||Webcast||—||—||—|
|6/30||^vs. New England||4:30||KING||—||—||—|
|7/15||^at New York||1:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
|8/5||^vs. LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN2||—||—||—|
|8/11||^at San Jose||7:30||KING||—||—||—|
|9/2||^at FC Dallas||4:00||KING||—||—||—|
|10/21||^vs. FC Dallas||6:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
|10/28||^at LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer; #=International friendly; &=U.S. Open Cup