The Sounders, who have one goal in three league matches, will have leading scorer Eddie Johnson back when they play at Real Salt Lake Saturday.
MATCH: Seattle Sounders FC (0-2-1, 1 point, T8, MLS West) at Real Salt Lake (1-2-1, 4 points, 6th, MLS West). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Saturday, 6 p.m., Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, UT. MEETING: 14th (RSL leads 5-4-4, all competitions ). TV: KONG. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
National team players Eddie Johnson (USA), Mario Martinez (Honduras) and Obafemi Martins (Nigeria) have rejoined the Sounders following World Cup qualifiers, and injured midfielders Brad Evans and Shalrie Joseph are also expected to be available Saturday when Seattle faces Real Salt Lake.
The return couldn’t come soon enough. The Sounders, who have trotted out five lineups in five matches (all competitions), have scored one point in their three league matches, tied for the fewest after three games in franchise history. The 2011 Sounders also had a single point after three matches.
A 1-0 loser at San Jose last week (third 1-0 loss in five matches across all competitions), the Sounders have not lost back-to-back league matches since March 2011, the longest stretch (736 days) in league history.
“It’s not the start we want,” said goalie Michael Gspurning, “but we know there are positives to take from what we’ve done so far. We have to find a way to fix the problem of conceding the late goals. The only way to solve this problem is to battle through and train hard.”
Besides the returning international players, head coach Sigi Schmid could usevother alternatives Saturday. Joseph, obtained in the offseason from Chivas USA, has overcome a calf injury and returned to full training. Brad Evans is also training after missing the past two matches.
“It’s important that we are healthy and that we’re playing well as we move forward with the season,” said Schmid. “To try and rush someone back because we’re panicking because we haven’t gotten a win yet, and have them suffer an injury that puts them out for a long period of time, makes no sense.”
RSL is led by forward Alvaro Saborio, second in MLS with three goals, including a pair in the opener at San Jose. The Costa Rican has 43 career MLS goals since entering the league in 2010, including a career-high 17 in 2012 (third in MLS).
Kyle Beckerman anchors the RSL midfield and has made 150 starts since joining the club in 2007. Midfielder Luis Gil is one of four players to have started all four matches this season. He had an assist in a 1-1 draw vs. Colorado.
As the Sounders discovered last year, RSL’s main stud is goalkeeper Nick Rimando. In five matches against Rimando last year, the Sounders tallied just one goal. In 14 MLS easons, Rimando ranks third all-time in career starts in goal (322) and saves (1,152), and second in shutouts (100) and wins (138).
This season, Rimando has a 0.67 goals-against average in 270 minutes. He has one win, one shutout and 12 saves.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Michael Gspurning. Defenders — Leo Gonzalez, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, DeAndre Yedlin. Midfielders — Andy Rose, Mauro Rosales, Steve Zakuani, Osvaldo Alonso. Forwards — Sammy Ochoa, Eddie Johnson
REAL SALT LAKE PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Nick Rimando. Defenders — Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Abdoulie Mansally. Midfielders — Ned Grabavoy, Luis Gil, Sebastian Velasquez, Kyle Beckerman. Forwards — Alvaro Saborio, Robbie Findley.
INJURIES (Sounders & RSL): Seattle — none; RSL — none.
SERIES: Dates to March 28, 2009, when the Sounders won 2-0 at home on goals by Nate Jaqua and Fredy Montero. Sides met five times last year with Real Salt Lake winning 1-0 May 2, followed by three scoreless draws. In the last meeting, in the MLS Cup playoffs Nov. 8, 2012, the Sounders won 1-0 on a Mario Martinez goal in the 81st minute. Sounders ended Real Salt Lake’s 28-game home unbeaten streak in 2o11.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
SOUNDERS MLS LEADERS
|Starts||5 players tied with 3 starts each|
|Shots||Johnson 9, Alonso 6, Martinez 4, Rosales 4|
|Shots On Goal||Johnson 3, Estrada 2, Martinez 2|
|Fouls Caused||Alonso 7, Evans 4, Zakuani 4, Gonzalez 3|
|Fouls Suffered||Alonso 8, Johnson 6, Martinez 4|
|Offsides||Johnson 4, Zakuani 1, Evans 1, Martinez 1|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 16, Martinez 5|
|Cautions||Evans, Johnson, Alonso, Hurtado 1|
RSL NOTES: Saborio leads all active players in the RSL-Seattle series with two goals . . . RSL has a -1 goal differential (three goals/four allowed). RSL’s lone victory came in a 2-0 result at San Jose in the season opener, The club has played one home match, a 1-1 draw with Colorado . . . Since 2009, RSL has amassed 210 points (59-30-33), third in MLS behind only the LA and Seattle . . . RSL has made the MLS Cup playoffs five consecutive seasons and won the MLS Cup in 2009 . . .Yordany Alvarez is suspended through Saturday.
COMING UP: The Sounders return to CenturyLink Field Tuesday to play the first leg of a two-leg series against Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals. The second leg is April 9 in Mexico. The Sounders resume MLS play April 13 against the New England Revolution.
Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Schedule / Results
(0-2-1, 1 point, MLS; 1-0-0 CCL; 0-0-0 U.S. Open Cup)
|3/6||*at Tigres||7:00||Fox Soccer||L||1-0||0-0-0|
|3/23||^at San Jose||7:30||KING 5||L||1-0||0-1-2|
|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