The Sounders have four stars out — Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, Brad Evans and Leo Gonzalez — when they host to Chivas USA Wednesday. Obafemi Martins may be out as well.
MATCH: Chivas USA (5-14-6, 21 points, 9th, MLS West) at Seattle Sounders FC (12-8-4, 40 points, 3rd, MLS West). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Wednesday, 7 p.m, CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 13th (Sounders lead 6-2-4). TV: KONG. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
Winners of five of their past six, including a pair of 1-0 decisions in the last two, the Sounders begin a three-match home stand Wednesday against traditionally downtrodden Chivas USA. Under normal circumstances, the Sounders would be favored to win by a multiple-goal margin, but they will be missing at four, and possibly five, key operatives in the 7 p.m. match.
Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey, serving with the U.S. National Team for its World Cup qualifiers with Costa Rica Friday and Mexico Tuesday, will miss Wednesday’s match as well as Saturday’s with the Chicago Fire. Defender Brad Evans had been scheduled to join Johnson and Dempsey, but a calf injury suffered at Columbus last Saturday will keep him in Seattle, rehabbing.
Defender Leo Gonzalez won’t play against Chivas as he serves a one-game sit down for the red card he incurred against Columbus. The status of Obafemi Martins is also questionable due to the lingering effects of an ankle injury which has forced him to miss three matches.
“We need him to get healthy,” head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We’re going to have some guys missing. We have to be smart about it, not just throw him into a game too early and have him re-injure himself. Since we’re missing those other guys, having Oba is going to be extremely important to our team.”
If Martins is available (he’s listed as probable, which does not necessarily mean he’ll start) he could be slotted alongside Lamar Neagle. In five matches together, that pairing has generated four goals and five assists. Or, Schmid could align him with Eriq Zavaleta, also listed as probable.
Zavaleta, Seattle’s first-round pick in the 2013 SuperDraft who played college soccer at Indiana, has appeared in three matches (no starts) for a total of 15 minutes.
“We have to look at where we are physically and try and get a team out on the field that’s ready to play, that has the experience, but is also physically in a good frame,” said Schmid.
With Evans sidelined, Servando Carrasco is a likely midfield substitute. The 25-year-old started 12 consecutive matches earlier in the season.
“He’s done well for us playing in there,” Schmid told soundersfc.com. “It’s been a good season for him and hopefully it will continue to be that way. I thought he came in at Columbus and played well. He kept possession for us, he’s defensively pretty solid, stays in good spaces and as long as he continues to do that, he’s a big help for us.”
The Sounders posted the best August in franchise history (four wins), sport a 10-match unbeaten streak at CenturyLink Field, and are unbeaten in 10 consecutive matches against The Goats (6-0-4), including two this season.
The back-to-back 1-0 wins over Portland and Columbus vaulted the Sounders into third place in MLS West, eight points behind Real Salt Lake in the race for the Supporters’ Shield with four games in hand. The Sounders have at least two in hand on every playoff contender.
Sounders have dominated the series with Chivas. Seattle has won the past four meetings, dating to Aug. 25, 2012, has outscored Chivas 18-10 in the past six matches and is 3-0-2 all-time against the Goats at the Clink.
Chivas isn’t contending for anything except another last-place finish, but Chivas is beginning to stir at precisely the moment the Sounders will be missing so many significant players.
Coming off a draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Goats are unbeaten in their past two and have lost once since Aug. 11 (1-1-2). Newcomer Erick Torres, who joined the club July 10 on loan from CD Guadalajara, has tallied eight goals in six matches, including two-goal efforts in his last two. Torres scored the lone Chivas goal against Seattle July 28.
Chivas has secured eight points in seven games since acquiring Torres, as opposed to 14 points in 19 games before his arrival.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Michael Gspurning. Defenders — DeAndre Yedlin, Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch. Midfielders — Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales, Servando Carrasco, Lamar Neagle. Forwards — Eriq Zavaleta, Obafemi Martins.
CHIVAS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper — Dan Kennedy. Defenders — Marky Delgado, Carlos Bocanegra, Bobby Burling, Carlos Borja. Midfielders –Bryan de la Fuente, Edgar Mejia, Oswaldo Minda, Carlos Alvarez. Forwards — Erick Torres, Julio Morales.
INJURIES: Seattle — Out, GK Josh Ford (right patella fracture), F Will Bates (right knee), MF Steve Zakuani (sports hernia surgery); MF Shalrie Joseph (right MCL sprain); Questionable, FW Obafemi Martins (left ankle sprain), MF Brad Evans (calf strain); D Dylan Remick (left hamstring strain). Chivas — Out, D Daniel Antunez (left ACL); GK Tim Melia (lumbar discectomy); F Caleb Calvert (right foot fracture); MF Jorge Villafaña (left toe fracture); D Jaime Frias (right ankle sprain); Questionable, D Steven Purdy (right hip impingement); F Jose Manuel Rivera (right hamstring strain). SUSPENSIONS: Seattle — Leo Gonzalez. Chivas — None. INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Seattle — Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson; Chivas — None.
SERIES: Dates to April 18, 2009, when Chivas USA won 2-0 in Carson, CA. Seattle is 6-2-4 against Chivas USA in MLS play, having gone unbeaten in the last 10 meetings (6-0-4). Seattle twice ousted Chivas from the Open Cup semifinals: 4-1 in 2012 and 3-1 in 2010. Seattle and Chivas have met twice this season. Seattle earned a 2-0 road win in June. In the last match, July 28, Lamar Neagle’s goal gave the Sounders a 2-1 victory.
SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
SOUNDERS MLS LEADERS
|Starts||Gonzalez 22, Yedlin 20, Traore 20, Gspurning 20|
|Goals||Martins 7, Johnson 7, Neagle 5|
|Assists||Rosales 7, Evans 5, Martins 3, Neagle 3|
|Shots||Johnson 39, Neagle 38, Martins 30|
|Shots On Goal||Johnson 20, Neagle 15, Martins 12|
|Fouls Caused||Alonso 37, Neagle 31, Gonzlaez 26|
|Fouls Suffered||Johnson 32, Rosales 26, Alonso 25|
|Offsides||Johnson 29, Neagle 9, Evans 7|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 70, Neagle 14, Burch 14|
|Cautions||Johnson 6, Traore 5, Hurtado 4|
|Ejections||7 tied with 1 each|
COMING UP: Sounders play next two at home: Chicago Fire Saturday and Real Salt Lake Sept. 13.
Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Schedule / Results
(12-8-4, 40 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