The Sounders begin a three-match road streak Saturday at Colorado having started 21 players. Coach Sigi Schmid has yet to use the same lineup twice.
MATCH: Seattle Sounders FC (0-3-2, 2 points, 9th, MLS West) at Colorado Rapids (2-3-2, 8 points, T4, MLS West). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Saturday, 3 p.m., Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO. MEETING: 10th (Sounders lead 7-1-1). TV: KONG. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
Due to a spate of injuries, national-team call-ups and squad rotation, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid has used a different starting lineup in every match this season. The lineup havoc (21 starters) has been most pronounced at the forward position, where Schmid has used seven combinations, including Eddie Johnson with three partners.
Johnson didn’t play in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with New England. Neither did new designated player Obafemi Martins, whom the Sounders acquired to start alongside Johnson. The net effect of the front-line inconsistency is that Seattle’s forwards have scored just two goals. The side has six overall.
Little wonder that the Sounders are 0-3-2 and in ninth place in the MLS West as they prepare to take on the improving Colorado Rapids Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in the first of three meetings this season.
The Sounders are 7-1-1 all-time vs. Colorado and own a six-match winning streak. But Seattle’s positive history in the series isn’t nearly as important as the fact that the Sounders are finally nearing full strength.
Forwards Johnson (hamstring), David Estrada (eye) and Martins (leg) all trained with the club this past week, although none are listed by the Sounders as probable starters against the Rapids (Steve Zakuani and Lamar Neagle) as their practice time has been limited.
Midfielder Brad Evans (calf), conspicuous by his recent absence, has also been in full training and defender Patrick Ianni (foot), who has been injured since early preseason, played 68 minutes in a reserve league match Monday in Los Angeles.
“You can’t say once those guys come back, all our problems are solved,” Schmid said. “At the same time, the reality is that we haven’t had a full practice. We haven’t had a chance to work on any of these combinations with the whole group. We have played nine different lineups in nine games (including CONCACAF Champions Leagu). We’ve had to mix the lineup all the time. We haven’t found any consistency in that form.”
Through five league matches, the Sounders are the only winless team in MLS and are approaching historic negative territory. Last year, the Sounders went nine matches without a victory (May 12-July 4), and they also went winless in six matches, 0-1-5 from May 2-June 6, 2009.
In both instances, the Sounders recovered. After the six-game skid in 2009, Seattle fashioned a six-game (3-0-3) unbeaten streak. Last year’s nine-game slide was followed by 6-1-3 mark in the next 10 matches.
In Colorado, the Sounders will face a club (2-3-2, 8 points) riding a three-match unbeaten streak, including back-to-back wins over Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake. The Rapids at home are 1-1-1, and will be looking to avenge the 2012 series when the Sounders captured all three meetings.
Despite only scoring six goals in seven games, Colorado is tied for third in MLS with 88 shots and tied for eighth with 28 shots on goal.
Deshorn Brown, a 22-year-old forward, leads the club with two goals and an assist. The Jamaican, selected sixth overall in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft out of Central Florida, scored his first professional goal in a 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake, then netted the winner in a 1-0 win at Chivas USA.
Fellow first-round 2013 MLS SuperDraft selection Dillon Powers has started all seven games and scored in a 2-2 draw with Portland. Nine-year MLS veteran Atiba Harris, acquired from Vancouver last offseason, has started six times in seven appearances and scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over RSL April 6. Overall, Colorado has had 18 players start a game, five score a goal, and four register an assist.
Saturday will mark Zakuani’s return to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park since suffering a broken leg April 22, 2011.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Michael Gspurning. Defenders — Leo Gonzalez, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, DeAndre Yedlin. Midfielders — Alex Caskey, Osvaldo Alonso, Shalrie Joseph, Mauro Rosales. Forwards — Steve Zakuani, Lamar Neagle.
COLORADO PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Clint Irwin. Defenders — Brian Mullan, Marvell Wynne, Shane O’Neill, Christopher Klute. Midfielders — Atiba Harris, Hendry Thomas, Nick LaBrocca, Dillon Powers. Forwards — Deshorn Brown, Edson Buddle.
INJURIES: Seattle — (none). Colorado — Diego Calderon (out).
SERIES: Dates to May 23, 2009, when the Sounders and Rapids played to a 2-2 draw in Denver. Fredy Montero and Nate Jaqua provided the Seattle goals. Seattle has won all four home contests, outscoring Colorado 10-4. Overall, Sounders have outscored the Rapids 17-8. In the most recent match, July 28, 2012, the Sounders won 2-1 in Commerce City on goals by Eddie Johnson and Osvaldo Alonso. Johnson’s goal came in the second minute, the fastest in franchise history.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
SOUNDERS MLS LEADERS
|Starts||Yedlin, Zakuani, Gspurning, Hurtado, all 5|
|Goals||Johnson 1, Evans 1|
|Assists||Zakuani, Rosales, Zakuani, all 1|
|Shots||Johnson 11, Alonso 10, Evans 6|
|Shots On Goal||Johnson 4, Evans 3; 4 tied with 2|
|Fouls Caused||Yedlin 9, Alonso 9, Evans 6, Zakuani 6|
|Fouls Suffered||Alonso 11, Rosales 9, Johnson 8|
|Offsides||Johnson 7, Evans 2, Zakuani 2, Neagle 2|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 22, Martinez 6|
|Cautions||Five players tied with 1 each|
COLORADO NOTES: Rapids midfielder Nathan Sturgis spent the 2009-10 seasons with the Sounders, playing 29 games for Seattle with one goal . . . Edson Buddle, who gave the Sounders fits when he played for the LA Galaxy, was acquired by Colorado in a Dec. 14, 2012 trade in exchange for allocation money and a 2013 Supplemental Draft Pick.
COMING UP: Sounders play 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
(0-3-2, 2 points, 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