Sounders hit by MLS crackdown
Seattle coach Sigi Schmid wants the beautiful game to be on display tonight when Sounders FC and the San Jose Earthquakes play at CenturyLink Field.
“Everywhere around the world embellishment (diving, faking injuries) is something I think the fans want to see limited or curtailed,” he said. “So, it’s good that we’re taking a firm step in it. I don’t think it’s going to be an issue in the future.”
The issues of embellishment arose Friday when Major League Soccer announced Sounders midfielder Alvaro Fernandez had been fined an undisclosed amount for “embellishment of contact” in the 82nd minute of the March 22 match against Houston. Fernandez seemed to have been bumped in the upper body by Dynamo player Brad Davis, but he went to the ground holding his face.
The league also announced a one-game suspension and undisclosed fine against Houston midfielder Adam Moffat for “a reckless challenge that endangered the safety of his opponent” in the 35th minute of the same game.
“The league has the opportunity, with their Disciplinary Committee, to review cases and situations,” Schmid said. “I’m not going to comment on Moffat’s situation. (Fernandez’s) situation is something we’ve talked about internally as a team. It’s important that we respect the game.”
Fernandez was not available for comment Friday, as Sounders are routinely unavailable the day before games.
However, Schmid was asked if he had spoken about this previously with Fernandez, a 26-year-old Uruguayan whose nickname, “Flaco,” means “skinny.”
“To him and to the whole team,” Schmid said. “We’ve talked about that in the past with the team, and we continue to talk about it. Sometimes it’s a little more difficult when it’s something that’s accepted maybe where you come from culturally, so it’s a little bit harder to break.”
Schmid said embellishment can sometimes be counterproductive, as referees can be reluctant to call fouls for players with a reputation for diving.
The solution, Schmid said, is for referees to consistently call the fouls they see, and for players not to go down unnecessarily.
Fernandez is expected to be part of what could be a depleted Sounders midfield tonight in the match of unbeaten Western Conference rivals.
Midfielder Mauro Rosales will miss his second consecutive start with a knee injury, while the availability of midfielder Brad Evans (hamstring) will be a game-time decision.
Also out again will be defender Adam Johansson (hamstring) and forward Eddie Johnson (hip).
Starting in Johnson’s absence, third-year forward David Estrada leads the league with four goals, one ahead of San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski, the MLS Golden Boot winner in 2010 and runner-up in 2011.
“Everybody thought two years ago in 2010 when he scored those 18 goals that it was a little bit of a fluke,” Schmid said of Wondolowski. “But obviously it wasn’t a fluke because he followed that last year with 16, and he’s already got three this year. It took him maybe a while to catch his rhythm into the league. He wasn’t getting it done in Houston, so Houston traded him back to San Jose, and he’s been on fire ever since. He’s a dangerous player. He becomes more dangerous with the addition of a guy like (forward) Steven Lenhart.”
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer
San Jose Earthquakes at Sounders FC, 7 p.m., Ch. 6/16, 97.3-FM, 710-AM
Inside: Preview capsule, B10. SOUNDERS GAMEDAY
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (2-1-0) AT SOUNDERS (2-0-0)
7 P.M., CENTURYLINK FIELD
tv: KONG 6/16. RADIO: 97.3 FM
head to head: Seattle leads 4-2-1 overall, and 3-1-0 at home. The Sounders are 2-0-1 over the last three meetings. This is the first of three matchs. The clubs play again Aug. 11 at San Jose, and the Quakes return to Seattle on Sept. 23.
club leaders: For San Jose: G 3, Chris Wondolowski; A 2, Sam Cronin; S 12, Wondolowski; SOG 5, Wondolowski; GAA 0.33, Jon Busch. For Seattle: G 4, David Estrada; A 2, Alvaro Fernandez; S 8, Estrada; SOG 6, Estrada; GAA 0.50, Michael Gspurning.
notes: Estrada is the early MLS goals leader, while Wondolowski is tied for second. They are the only MLS players with two game-winning goals. Wondolowski was the 2010 MLS Golden Boot winner and 2011 runner-up. … Last week, Seattle beat Houston, 2-0, and San Jose beat Toronto, 3-0. … Each team has allowed only one goal this season. The Quakes’ only surrendered goal came by penalty kick. … Sounders reserve goalkeeper Andrew Weber played for San Jose from 2009-2011. The Quakes have three players from the Puget Sound area: Joey Gjertsen (Tacoma), Ellis McLoughlin (Seattle) and rookie Jacob Hustedt (Bothell). … The annual Heritage Cup competition between these clubs will be determined by the results of their next two meetings. This game will figure only as a possible tie-breaker. … Sounders forward Eddie Johnson turns 28 today. … The referee is Mark Kadlecik.
quotable: “We’ve talked about winning more games at home than we did last year, and starting off 3-0 at home is important to us, especially because this game is coming against an opponent in the Western Conference, and conference games are more important because of the way the playoff format is structured.” – Sounders coach Sigi Schmid
next up: 4:30 p.m. April 7 at DC United.
Don Ruiz, staff writer