Against the team that ousted them from the postseason last year, the Sounders take on Real Salt Lake Saturday with the Western Conference lead at stake.
MATCH: Real Salt Lake (7-3-2, 23 points, 2nd, West Conf.) at Seattle Sounders FC (7-1-1, 22 points, 3rd, West Conf.). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m., CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 7th (series tied 2-2-2 in MLS). TV: KONG 6/16. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH RADIO: La Gran D 99.3 FM.
The Sounders’ most compelling match of the season is Saturday night when Western Conference leader Real Salt Lake (23 points) arrives to play a Seattle side riding a five-game winning streak and off to the best start in franchise history. A win would give Seattle 15 points in a 15-day stretch of five games.
“If you cant get yourself ready for this game and get motivated, maybe youre not alive,” said coach Sigi Schmid. “Our team will be ready. Its a chance for us to move into first place overall.
“Theres extra motivation because theyre the team that knocked us out of the playoffs last year.”
They work for each other,” he said. “They get in the way. They block shots. They help each other. They cover for each other. You know they take a lot of pride in keeping things away from goal.
I think our goalkeepers dont have to make a lot of big saves because were doing a lot of (defense) in front of them. Theyre able to come up with it and do well with it. So its a mindset. The mindset is with our midfielders and forwards as well. in terms of making plays predictable.
Coming off a 0-0 draw with Chicago, Real Salt Lake is unbeaten in its past four matches. That shutout was Real Salt Lake’s first in more than a month.
Sounders and Real Salt Lake played five common opponents: Los Angeles, Colorado, San Jose, Toronto and Dallas. Seattle went W-W-L-W-W against them while Real Salt Lake went W-W-L-W-T.
The Sounders list goalkeeper Michael Gspurning as doubtful with a hip injury. Gspurning is not expected to play until after the Sounders play the Vancouver Whitecaps May 19. Midfielder Alvaro Fernandez is expected to return after a quadriceps strain that kept him out of the five-game winning streak. Patrick Ianni has had back problems that awaited results of an MRI Friday.
SERIES: Dates to March 28, 2009, when the Sounders scored a 2-0 home victory on goals from Nate Jaqua and Fredy Montero. Real Salt Lake has won two of the past three matches, but the Sounders won the last one, 2-0 Nov. 2, 2011 at CenturyLink Field.
LAST MATCH (Sounders, May 9) at FC Dallas: Fredy Montero came off the bench in the second half and notched two goals, Bryan Meredith recorded his second consecutive shutout in the 2-0 win.
LAST MATCH (Real Salt Lake, May 9): Backup goaltender Kyle Reynish made two key saves against Chicago to preserve the tie in Bridgeview, IL. With the single point, Real Salt Lake (7-3-2) took the Western Conference lead — a point ahead of San Jose and Seattle. Real Salt Lake is 2-0-2 in its last four matches.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
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.
Jason Kreis: Became coach of Real Salt Lake May 3, 2007, and is in his sixth season season with the club. At the time of his hire, he was the youngest coach in the league 34 years, 127 days. His 2009 squad won the MLS Championship, and his 2010 side became the first U.S. team, and one of just three non-Mexican teams, to win a CONCACAF group. A native of Omaha, NB., Kries was the first American-born player in MLS history to earn MVP honors (Kreis remains one of just three U.S.-born MVPs), capturing the 1999 award after leading the Dallas Burn in goals (18) and assists (15). The Duke graduate scored 108 MLS goals, including 31 game winners, during his career.
COMING UP: Two of the next three matches are on the road, at Vancouver May 19 and at Chivas May 26. The Sounders will host Columbus May 23.
Seattle Sounders FC 2012 Schedule / Results
(7-1-1, 22 points, MLS; 1-1 CCL)
|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|
|6/30||^vs. New England||4:30||KING||—||—||—|
|7/15||^at New York||1:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
|8/5||^vs. LA Galaxy||7:00||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