Down to a fourth-string goalie, Sounders hobble out Saturday against a Colorado club Seattle defeated in seven consecutive matches.
MATCH: Colorado Rapids (7-7-6, 27 points, 6th, MLS West) at Seattle Sounders FC (7-7-3, 24 points, 7th, MLS West). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m, CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 11th (Sounders lead 8-1-1). TV: KONG. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
Having squandered consecutive road matches at Vancouver and San Jose over the past two weeks, the Sounders (7-7-3, 24 points) stand seventh in MLS West, six points out of the fifth and final playoff spot. While the positive news is that the Sounders have two to three games in hand against on every Western Conference opponent, the bad is that they have an absurd, if not dire, situation at the goalkeeper position.
Seattle’s top three — Michael Gspurning, Marcus Hahnemann and Josh Ford — are all out with injuries, so head coach Sigi Schmid will have to look to Andrew Weber to carry the load in Saturday’s match against the Colorado Rapids at CenturyLink Field. The Sounders acquired Weber on loan from third-tier Phoenix FC in the USL, although he started five games as a backup last season in Seattle.
Injuries at goalkeeper aren’t Seattle’s only woes. A dozen players have sustained injuries in recent days, most notably:
“In five years here in Seattle, it’s probably the worst injury run we’ve had,” Schmid said. “Cumulatively, it seems to all have hit at the same time.”
The Sounders also expected to play Saturday without Osvaldo Alonso, just back from a quad injury and red-carded in the San Jose match for violent contact. Instead, they will have the services of the midfielder. A special panel overturned the red card Thursday on appeal, clearing Alonso to play.
“It shows that the challenges we’ve made have been appropriate. We felt it was a legitimate challenge and it turned out to be,” Schmid said.
Forward Eddie Johnson won’t be available and, in fact, might miss the next match. Johnson was summoned to the U.S. National Team for Sunday’s CONCACAF Gold Cup match against El Salvador. If the U.S. makes the Gold Cup final, scheduled July 28, he will miss the Chivas USA match slated the same day.
“I would really like to see what this team looks like if we could get our best players on the field for three to four games in a row,” Schmid said. “I’d like to see what we look like at that point.”
In place of Johnson Saturday, Schmid is expected to go with Lamar Neagle alongside Obafemi Martins. When Neagle and Martins start together, the Sounders are 3-0-0.
The Colorado match begins a stretch of three consecutive home games and gives Seattle a chance to work its way back into the Western Conference playoff picture. The Sounders are unbeaten (4-0-2) at the Clink since a loss to Montreal in the season opener March 2. Seattle has won four consecutive home matches, matching the club record set July 7-Sept. 8, 2012.
Colorado (7-7-7, 27 points) is undefeated over its past three and sixth in the West. The Rapids are led by rookies Deshom Brown and Dillon Powers and eight-year veteran Atiba Harris. Brown and Powers have combined for six goals and eight assists.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Andrew Weber. Defenders — DeAndre Yedlin, Zach Scott, Djimi Traore, Leo Gonzalez. Midfielders — Servando Carrasco, Osvaldo Alonso, Marc Burch, Brad Evans. Forwards — Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle.
RAPIDS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Clint Irwin. Defenders — Christopher Klute, Shane O’Neill, Drew Moor, Marvell Wynn. Midfielders — Nathan Sturgis, Hendry Thomas, Dillon Powers, Nick LaBrocca. Forwards — Edson Buddle, Deshorn Brown.
INJURIES: Seattle — Josh Ford (patella fracture), Steve Zakuani (athletic pubalgia), Michael Gspurning (forearm sprain), Alex Caskey (ankle impingement), Marcus Hahnemann (hamstring), Shalrie Joseph (calf strain), Phillip Lund (plantar fascitis), Andy Rose (hamstring), out; Brad Evans (rib contusion), Djimi Traore (hamstring), questionable. Colorado — Diego Calderon, out. SUSPENSIONS: Seattle — None; Colorado — None. INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Seattle — Eddie Johnson; Colorado — None.
SERIES: Dates to May 23, 2009 and 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 beaten Colorado seven in a row and outscored the Rapids 18-8. In the most recent match, April 20, Obafemi Martins scored the first goal of his Sounders career in a 1-0 Seattle victory at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
SOUNDERS MLS LEADERS
|Starts||Gspurning 17, Traore 16, Gonzalez 15|
|Goals||Martins 6, Johnson, Neagle, 4 each|
|Assists||Rosales, Neagle, Evans, all 3|
|Shots||Johnson 28, Evans 20, Martins 19, Neagle 19|
|Shots On Goal||Johnson 15, Martins 10, Neagle 8|
|Fouls Caused||Neagle 24, Carrasco 20, Alonso 20|
|Fouls Suffered||Johnson 24, Rosales 22, Alonso 16|
|Offsides||Johnson 23, Neagle 6, Evans 5|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 48, Martinez 17|
|Cautions||Johnson 4, 4 tied with 2|
|Ejections||Neagle, Yedlin, Joseph, Martins, Hahnemann|
COLORADO NOTES: Former Sounders midfielder Nathan Sturgis has enjoyed a career year in his first season with the Rapids. Sturgis has scored a career-high four goals (third on Colorado) and added one assist in 11 starts. His 1,022 minutes played is already fourth-best in his eight-year career. Sturgis played two seasons with Seattle, making 29 appearances from 2009-10.
COMING UP: Chivas USA July 28.
Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Schedule / Results
(7-7-3, 24 points, MLS; 1-1-0 CCL; 0-1-0 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||L||4-0||4-4-3|
|7/13||^at San Jose||7:30||KING||L||1-0||7-7-3|
|9/21||^at LA Galaxy||7:30||NBCSN||—||—||—|
|10/19||^at FC Dallas||1:00||NBCSN||—||—||—|
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer; #=U.S. Open Cup