The Sounders are off to an abysmal start offensively with just one point in four MLS matches. They host New England Saturday before three road games.
MATCH: New England (1-2-1, 4 points, T8, MLS East) at Seattle Sounders FC (0-3-1, 1 point, 9th, MLS West). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m., CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 8th (series tied 3-3-1). TV: KONG. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
The Sounders have amassed the fewest points — one — through the first four MLS matches of a season in franchise history. They play their fifth Saturday afternoon at CenturyLink Field against a New England Revolution team that has also gotten off to nearly as sorry a start to 2013.
New England won its season opener on the road, then had two losses and a draw. In its last outing, March 30, New England stumbled at FC Dallas.
The Sounders, eliminated from Champions League competition Tuesday by Santos Laguna in Torreon, Mexico, on aggregate goals, most recently faced New England in the 2013 FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup, besting the Boston side 2-0 on goals from Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson.
The Revolution is led by Honduran forward Jerry Bengston. In his first season with the Revs, Bengston has scored the team’s lone goal in three matches. A fixture on the Honduras National Team, Bengston in February scored the winner against the USA in a World Cup qualifier.
The Revs midfield features former U.S. international Lee Nguyen, Colombian Juan Toja, and Washington native Kelyn Rowe (Federal Way). Rookie Andrew Farrell, New England’s first-ever No. 1 draft pick, has played every minute at right back. Veteran Matt Reis and Bobby Shuttleworth have split time in goal with both starting two games.
Seattle’s recently acquired midfielder, Shalrie Joseph, spent the first nine and a half years of his career with the Revolution and has played a major role in the Seattle-New England series, leading all players with three goals. Joseph, listed as probable, has also taken the most shots (12) and shots on goal (seven) of any player in the seven regular-season meetings.
The Sounders have had a lot of trouble finding the net with two goals in four league matches. The principal reason: Seattle ranks 16th (46) in total shots taken and tied for 17th with 14 shots on goal. Can’t score if you don’t shoot.
“At 0-3-1, our record is not good,” said forward Steve Zakuani, who is expected to start against the Revolution. “We have to take what’s coming our way: the criticism, the backlash – we deserve it. But the good thing is that the season is still young. We’ll come back to MLS play and hopefully we’ll be ready for it.”
“We have to take the form, the character and the effort into our league matches because we have not started league play very well,” added head coach Sigi Schmid. “But it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
The Sounders acquired striker Obafemi Martins of Nigeria to provide goal scoring, but he’s had an erratic start with the club. After flying in from Africa to play limited minutes against Portland, he flew back to Africa to participate in World Cup qualifiers. Once back, he aggravated a knee injury and flew to Europe for treatment. He returned Thursday but has been ruled out of the New England match. The Sounders hope to have Martins back for the Colorado game April 20.
The Sounders are taking a wait-and-see approach with striker Eddie Johnson, who has a hamstring injury. Midfielder Brad Evans, who missed Tuesday’s match with Santos Laguna, is nursing a calf strain and is questionable for the Revolution.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Michael Gspurning. Defenders — Leo Gonzalez, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, DeAndre Yedlin. Midfielders — Alex Caskey, Osvaldo Alonso, Shalrie Joseph, Mario Martinez. Forwards — Eddie Johnson, Steve Zakuani.
NEW ENGLAND PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Bobby Shuttleworth. Defenders — Chris Tierney, Jose Goncalves, A.J. Soares, Andrew Farrell. Midfielders — Diego Fagundez, Clyde Simms, Juan Toja, Lee Nguyen. Forwards — Ryan Guy, Jerry Bengston.
INJURIES: Seattle — Obafemi Martins (out, knee injury). New England — Kevin Anderson (out).
SERIES: Dates to Aug. 20, 2009, when the Revolution won 1-0 in Seattle. The Sounders lost three of the four meetings with the Revolution in 2009-10, but are unbeaten in three consecutive matches. In the most recent match, June 30, 2012, the Sounders and Revolution battled to a 2-2 draw at Gillette Stadium.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
SOUNDERS MLS LEADERS
|Starts||Yedlin, Zakuani, Gspurning, Hurtado, all 4|
|Goals||Johnson 1, Evans 1|
|Assists||Zakuani, Rosales, Zakuani, all 1|
|Shots||Johnson 11, Alonso 7, Evans 6|
|Shots On Goal||Johnson 4, Evans 3, Estrada 2, Martinez 2|
|Fouls Caused||Alonso 7, Yedlin 7, Evans 6, Zakuani 6|
|Fouls Suffered||Alonso 10, Johnson 8, Rosales 7|
|Offsides||Johnson 7, Evans 2|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 18, Martinez 5|
|Cautions||Five players tied with 1 each|
NEW ENGLAND NOTES: Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe, from Federal Way, was selected third overall by the Revs in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft . . .New England has gone 298 minutes without scoring, third-longest streak in the league this season . . .Fullback Kevin Alston, who started all four matches this season, is on the disabled list to undergo treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia, a rare but treatable form of the disease. “The Revolution fully supports Kevin as he begins treatment,” said Revolution GM Michael Burns. “Right now, the most important thing for Kevin is to concentrate on returning to full health.”
COMING UP: Sounders have a long stretch on the road, at Colorado April 20, at Philadelphia May 4 and at Kansas City May 8. The Sounders won’t play at home again until May 11 against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Schedule / Results
(0-3-1, 1 point, MLS; 1-1-0 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||0-2-1|
|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