Not all draws are created equal.
Therefore, the tolerance that Sounders FC showed for its scoreless tie Wednesday at Real Salt Lake would not extend to the match tonight against the Colorado Rapids.
A road game against a team higher in the standings – RSL – is one thing. A home game against a team below you – Colorado – is something else.
“Definitely, we’d like to win for sure,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “We want to be a tough team to beat, and I think we’ve gotten back to that. We lost that for a couple of games; and we’ve gotten back to that, which is very important. Now it’s a matter of the soccer catching up, and us playing better and walking away with a win.”
Schmid said that Wednesday, after his club’s draw at Real Salt Lake, which stands second in the MLS Western Conference. That game followed a 2-2 draw at New England, which Seattle led until the final seconds.
Those games seemed to help the club’s confidence that it is playing well again, even as those results also extended to a franchise-record nine games the winless streak that dates to early May.
“At some point in the season, math dictates games that are must-wins, but we’re not at that point in the season,” general manager Adrian Hanauer said. “As Sigi always says: Points count the same at the beginning of the season, middle of the season, end of the season. So we just need to keep focusing on collecting points and not get to a position where games are must-wins in order for us to make the playoffs.”
Schmid also says the key to making the playoffs is to win regular-season series. Seattle already has won or tied its lone game against Eastern clubs Toronto, Houston, DC United, Chicago, Philadelphia, Sporting Kansas City and New England, while losing to Columbus and Montreal. Fifteen of the remaining 16 games are against Western rivals; and Seattle would clinch the Colorado series with a win today.
“With our last set of games being against Western Conference opponents, everything is within our own hands,” Schmid said. “... We won the first (game of three against Colorado), so if we can win here in this one, then the very least is we win the season series. And if we can do that with every Western Conference opponent, we’ll be where we want to be at the end of the day.”
OPEN CUP FINAL
If the Sounders advance to the U.S. Open Cup final, they would play host to Philadelphia but would have to travel to Kansas City on Aug. 8, U.S. Soccer announced Friday.
The right to host the final is determined by secret bid.
“The word I got was that our blind (bid and Kansas City’s) were identical … and it was then decided by a coin flip,” Hanauer said. “I’m still not sure (what) in the description of this process – the blind bid that U.S. Soccer was so proud of – led to a coin flip. But be that as it may, we first and foremost have a tough game with Chivas ahead of us.”
Seattle and Chivas USA meet in one semifinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila. On the other side of the bracket, Sporting KC visits Philadelphia.
The MLS Disciplinary Committee fined Seattle defender Leo Gonzalez an undisclosed amount for “embellishing contact” with Alvaro Saborio in the 40th minute of the match at Real Salt Lake. ... Schmid would not say if Steve Zakuani will be on the 18-man game-day roster tonight. If he is, it could set up his return to MLS play against perhaps the same player – Colorado midfielder Brian Mullan – that caused his leg fractures April 22, 2011. Zakuani has not appeared in an MLS game since then, but he has played in one reserve game and has been included on one 18-man roster. ... Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning will miss his 12th straight MLS match today. Schmid said Gspurning is doing “much better” and his return is “getting very close.”
COLORADO RAPIDS (7-9-1; 22 POINTS) AT SOUNDERS FC (7-5-6; 27)
8 p.m., CenturyLink Field
TV: NBCSports. RADIO: 97.3 FM.
CLUB LEADERS: For Colorado – G 5, Jamie Castrillon; A 6, Martin Rivero; S 36 Tony Cascio; SOG 14, Cascio; GAA 1.29, Matt Pickens . For Seattle – G 7, Eddie Johnson; A 4, Fredy Montero and Mauro Rosales; S 72, Montero; SOG 26 Montero; GAA 1.22, Bryan Meredith.
HEAD TO HEAD: Seattle leads the all-time series, 5-1-1, and 4-0 at home. This season, the Sounders won the April 14 meeting, 1-0, and will visit Colorado on July 28.
NOTES: Seattle is fourth in the Western Conference, Colorado is fifth. ... The Sounders are on a club-record nine-game winless streak. The Rapids are 3-5-1 over the same period and have lost three of their last four. ... Seattle is 5-3-1 at home; the Rapids are 2-6 away. ... A league-high 13 players contributed to Colorado’s 24 goals this season. ... Colorado defender Tyrone Marshall spent the 2009-10 seasons with Seattle. ... Sounders midfielder Steve Zakuani (leg) is listed as questionable. Zakuani hasn’t played since suffering multiple leg fractures on a reckless tackle by Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan on April 22, 2011. ... Rapids forwards Conor Casey (hamstring) and Omar Cummings (ankle) are listed as probable. ... Seattle’s Fredy Montero and Colorado’s Jeff Larentowicz are one caution away from yellow-card suspension. ... The referee is Kevin Stott.
quotable: “They went back into a 4-4-2, where they’ve been playing a 4-3-3 or a 4-5-1, whatever you want to call it. How comfortable are they in that new formation? We’ll have to see. But they’re a team with two dangerous forwards, and they’re a team that definitely likes to possess the ball now out of the back.” – Sounders coach Sigi Schmid on the Rapids.
NEXT: The Sounders return to U.S. Open Cup at 7 p.m. Wednesday, facing Chivas USA in a semifinal match at Starfire Sports Stadium. Their next MLS match is 1 p.m. July 15 at New York.firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8808 blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt email@example.com