Remaking their roster on the fly, the Sounders launch their fifth MLS season Saturday, hosting Montreal, while awaiting news on a flashy striker from Nigeria.
MATCH: Montreal Impact (12-16-6, 42 points, 7th, MLS East in 2012) at Seattle Sounders FC (15-8-11, 56 points, 3rd, MLS West in 2012). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 2nd (Montreal leads 1-0). LAST 10: Sounders 0-0-0; Impact 0-0-0. TV: KING 5. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
Coming off a four-match Desert Diamond Cup tournament sweep to close out their preseason schedule in Tucson, the Sounders’ fifth Major Soccer League season begins Saturday night against second-year Montreal Impact. Montreal’s first visit to Seattle will be the first of six matches in March.
The Sounders brought in six new players and lopped off six, most notably all-time leading scorer Fredy Montero and defender Jeff Parke. The Sounders are also unlikely to retain Christian Tiffert, who hasn’t been with the team. The German midfielder’s contract as a designated player is expected to be bought out by Saturday.
The top newcomers are eight-time MLS All-Star and four-time MLS Best XI midfielder Shalrie Joseph, 34, and defender Djimi Traore, 33, who played professionally for 16 years in Europe, including seven seasons for Liverpool of the Premier League. The Sounders also added SuperDraft selection Dylan Remick, a 21-year-old defender from Brown University. And they re-acquired Federal Way star Lamar Neagle, who was brought back in a trade from Montreal.
The Sounders are also pursuing a Nigerian international, Obafemi Martins, 28, who is under contract to Lavante of Valencia, Spain. The Sounders were hopeful to have reached a deal by now for the designated player, but may have to wait through the weekend.
For Montreal, head coach Marco Schallibaum enters his first season in MLS with a club that features Italian internationals Alessandro Nesta and Marco Di Vaio, who return for their first full season with the club. Midfielder Patrice Bernier led last year’s attack with nine goals and eight assists, and Felipe Martins added 10 assists with four goals.
The top pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, forward Andrew Wenger, rejoins the team along with veteran midfielder Davy Arnaud. Former Sounders midfielder Sanna Nyassi enters his second season in Montreal. Goalkeeper Troy Perkins joined the team in a 2012 midseason trade with the Portland Timbers and allowed just eight goals in nine games.
The Sounders will be without two key operatives when they face Montreal. Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso and defender Marc Burch won’t play due to suspensions carrying over from last season. Alonso also missed last year’s meeting with Montreal.
The Sounders play 34 league matches, facing each Western Conference opponent three times with just a single date against Eastern Conference sides, plus at least two Champions League matches and the opening round of the U.S. Open Cup.
This is the fifth consecutive year that the Sounders will open at home. Seattle is 3-1 in home openers with an 8-2 edge in goals scored.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Michael Gspurning. Defenders — Adam Johansson, Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez. Midfielders — Mauro Rosales, Andy Rose, Steve Zakuani, Brad Evans. Forwards — David Estrada, Eddie Johnson.
INJURIES (Sounders): Out — Patrick Ianni (foot fracture), Andrew Duran (ACL surgery); Questionable — Shalrie Joseph (calf strain); Adam Johansson (knee sprain).
SERIES: Dates to June 16, 2012, when the Sounders dropped a 4-1 decision to the Impact in Montreal. Seattle gave up early goals in the first and second halves, but the game turned on a red card issued to Jhon Kennedy Hurtado in the 56th minute. Eddie Johnson tallied Seattle’s only goal. Lamar Neagle, a former Sounder, scored Montreal’s final goal. Neagle re-joined the Sounders this offseason.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
SOUNDERS (MLS) LEADERS
(2012 Regular Season)
|Starts||Alonso 30, Evans 29, Parke 29, Montero 28|
|Goals||Johnson 14, Montero 13, Estrada 5|
|Assists||Rosales 13, Montero 8, Caskey 4, Evans 4|
|Shots||Montero 126, Johnson 72, Alonso 41|
|Shots On Goal||Montero 46, Johnson 25, Evans 13, Alonso 13|
|Fouls Caused||Montero 63, Johnson 40, Alonso 37|
|Fouls Suffered||Montero 68, Alonso 52, Johnson 46|
|Offsides||Johnson 33, Montero 24, Estrada 6|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 73, Tiffert 31, Fernandez 16|
|Cautions||Alonso 8, Johnson 6, Montero 5, Scott 5|
|Ejections||Hurtado, Fernandez, Montero, Scott, 1|
COMING UP: The Sounders travel to Monterrey, Mexico, to face Tigres in a Champions League match Wednesday and play a rematch with the Mexican side at CenturyLink Field March 12.
Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Schedule
(0-0-0, 0 points, MLS; 0-0 CCL; 0-0 U.S. Open Cup; 0-0-0 MLS Cup)
|3/23||^at San Jose||7:30||KING/KONG||—||—||—|
|5/26||^at LA Galaxy||8:00||ESPN2||—||—||—|
|7/13||^at San Jose||7:30||KING/KONG||—||—||—|
|9/21||^at LA Galaxy||7:30||NBCSN||—||—||—|
|10/19||^at FC Dallas||1:00||NBCSN||—||—||—|
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer