The Sounders have thrived when they face a cluster of games in a short time frame, but a long injury list is compromising depth.
MATCH: Seattle Sounders FC (1-3-2, 5 points, 9th, MLS West) at Philadelphia Union (3-3-2, 11 points, 6th, MLS East). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m., PPL Park, Chester. MEETING: 6th (series even at 2-2-1). TV: KONG. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
Idle for two weeks after a bye, the Sounders will play three matches over the next eight days, the kind of cluster that historically favors them. On the nine previous occasions that the Sounders have kicked it off three times in an eight-day span, they have compiled a 12-7-7 in those matches with eight shutouts.
The first match in the cluster is 1 p.m. Saturday when the Sounders meet the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park. Seattle will stay on the road for a mid-week meeting with Sporting Kansas City in a rematch of the 2012 U.S. Open Cup final, won by the hosts.
The Sounders return to CenturyLink Field for a May 11 meeting with the San Jose Earthquakes. Seattle will play five league matches in May, plus the first round of the U.S. Open Cup with all other MLS team, which begins May 28.
Although the Sounders, who have yet to score more than one goal in any MLS match and just once in 10 games across all competitions, stand ninth and last in MLS West and lost points to all conference teams last week as the result of the bye. Seattle hast played three fewer matches than any other club and thus has a chance to make up points.
“The West is pretty tight,” said Sounders coach Sigi Schmid. “So if we can win the games we have in hand, we’re going to be back in the mix for a playoff spot.”
The Sounders, who have not allowed a goal in 235 minutes, the fourth-longest shutout streak in MLS this season, have never won at PPL Park, but will be facing a Union side that hasn’t won at home since March 16.
Philadelphia ranks among MLS’s best offenses — eighth in goals (10), sixth in shots on goal (38) — but the Union has trouble defending, allowing 1.50 goals per match, tied for 17th in the league.
Player to watch is Jack McInerney, at 20 the youngest ever to lead MLS in scoring. He has six goals in eight games and also ranks first in the league with three game-winning goals.
McInerney is usually paired with former Colorado striker Conor Casey, who has two goals and an assist this season and has twice scored against Seattle.
The Sounders list Lamar Neagle as a probable starter at forward along with Obafemi Martins, although the designated player’s ailing knee remains troublesome. Eddie Johnson (hamstring) returned to training last week and might be available. The injury list remains hefty.
Reserve GK Josh Ford was placed on the disabled list with a fracture of his right kneecap. He’ll be out at least six games. Questionable for Saturday are MF Steve Zakuani (groin), defender Patrick Ianni (foot), MF Shalrie Joseph (hamstring) and D Marc Burch (hamstring).
The Sounders will face two ex-teammates Saturday, defender Jeff Parke and forward Sebastien Le Toux. Le Toux played for Seattle in 2009 while Parke, the club’s two-time defender of the year, made 77 starts in three years (2010-12) before Seattle honored his request to trade him to his hometown of Philadelphia.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Michael Gspurning. Defenders — Leo Gonzalez, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, DeAndre Yedlin. Midfielders — Steve Zakuani, Osvaldo Alonso, Shalrie Joseph, Brad Evans. Forwards — Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle.
PHILADELPHIA PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Zac MacMath. Defenders — Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Jeff Parke, Raymon Gaddis. Midfielders — Danny Cruz, Keon Daniel, Brian Carroll, Nichael Farfan. Forwards — Conor Casey, Jack McInerney
INJURIES: Seattle — Josh Ford, out. Philadelphia — None.
SERIES: Dates to March 25, 2010, when the Sounders won 2-0 at CenturyLink Field, receiving goals from Brad Evans and Fredy Montero. The Sounders did not beat the Union again until May 5, 2012 (the last meeting), 1-0 at CenturyLink on a goal by Mauro Rosales, assisted by Montero.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
SOUNDERS MLS LEADERS
|Starts||Yedlin, Zakuani, Gspurning, Hurtado, all 6|
|Goals||Johnson, Evans, Martins, all 1|
|Assists||Zakuani, Rosales, Zakuani, all 1|
|Shots||Johnson 11, Alonso 10, Evans 9|
|Shots On Goal||Johnson 4, Evans 3; 4 tied with 2|
|Fouls Caused||Alonso 12, Yedlin 11, Evans 8|
|Fouls Suffered||Alonso 13, Rosales 9, Johnson 8|
|Offsides||Johnson 7, Evans 3, Neagle 3, Zakuani 2|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 24, Martinez 6|
|Cautions||Seven players tied with 1 each|
PHILAELPHIA NOTES: The Sounders traded Parke to Philadelphia Dec. 7, 2012 in exchange for allocation money and a first-round pick in the 2013 supplemental draft. Parke was voted the club’s Defender of the Year in 2011 and 2012.
COMING UP: Sounders will face Kansas City Wednesday. The Sounders won’t play at home again until May 11 against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Schedule / Results
(1-3-2, 5 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