Seattle Sounders FC’s newest designated player could make his debut tonight against the Los Angeles Galaxy, the club that has gotten the most bang for the most designated player (DP) bucks in MLS.
German midfielder Christian Tiffert, who signed with the Sounders last week, has received the P-1 Visa that clears him to appear on today’s roster.
It could be quite a welcome to his new league: The game will be played before a crowd of around 60,000 at CenturyLink Field and a national audience on ESPN2.
Part of that crowd will be drawn by a four-game ticket package that included the Chelsea friendly and coming Cascadia Cup matches with Portland and Vancouver.
However, another lure is the glamorous Galaxy, which already this season has played before 60,869 in Montreal; 50,391 vs. San Jose at Stanford, Calif.; 47,568 at Toronto, and 39,002 in its previous visit to Seattle. The Galaxy averages 27,960 per road game – almost 7,000 more than any other MLS club.
The surging Galaxy has used its designated player slots to acquire three of the biggest names in MLS: David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane. And they provide not just star power, but also firepower. Donovan has nine goals and seven assists; Keane nine goals and six assists; Beckham six goals and nine assists.
“The philosophy that New York has and L.A. has is they look a little more for more of a high-powered, accomplished player as a DP, somebody who’s already got a high level of name-recognition value,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “That’s just their approach to it. … But that doesn’t take anything away from our DPs.”
Seattle’s DPs this season have been lower in name recognition and production.
Fredy Montero has five goals and four assists. Mauro Rosales has one goal and seven assists. Alvaro Fernandez had two goals and two assists before he was traded to Chicago last week.
That opened a DP slot that Seattle almost instantly filled with Tiffert, who is more in the mode of the Sounders’ other DPs than the Galaxy DPs.
“He’s a very simple player,” Schmid said. “He plays one- and two-touch, but he’s got good vision. He knows when the important parts of the field come up, when you’ve got to do good things with the ball. I think he’s going to be able to help us in terms of maintaining possession in the final third of the field and hitting insightful passes at the right time.”
Tiffert is the club’s sixth designated player, following Montero, Rosales, Fernandez, Freddie Ljungberg and Blaise Nkufo. The latter two are no longer active, and none of the former three made the MLS All-Star game-day roster this season, although Montero made the inactive list that is mandated in the collective bargaining agreement.
During a conference call to announce Tiffert’s signing, general manager Adrian Hanauer declined to grade the Sounders’ history of DP signings.
“All I can say is we’ve made the playoffs three straight years, we’ve won three Open Cups, we’ve gone fairly deep into Champions League; but we want to win an MLS Cup and advance through the MLS playoffs,” he said. “It’s a team game. So, I guess I’ll let everybody else formulate the grades. All we can do is look forward and try to get better and try to get ourselves into position to win an MLS Cup.”
LOS ANGELES GALAXY (10-10-3; 33 POINTS) AT SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (9-5-7; 34)
6 p.m., CenturyLink Field
TV: ESPN2. RADIO: 97.3 FM.
CLUB LEADERS: For Los Angeles – goals, 9, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane; assists, 9, David Beckham; shots, 52, Keane; shots on goal, 27, Keane; goals-against average, 1.50, Josh Saunders. For Seattle – G 9, Eddie Johnson; A 7, Mauro Rosales; S 78, Fredy Montero; SOG 27, Montero; GAA 0.53, Michael Gspurning.
HEAD TO HEAD: Seattle is 2-3-2 against Los Angeles in league play, and 1-3-1 over the past five meetings. The win (2-0) came May 2 in Seattle. The Sounders visit L.A. for the final match of the regular season Oct. 28. The Galaxy eliminated the Sounders from the 2010 playoffs, while Seattle holds a 2-0 edge in U.S. Open Cup matches.
NOTES: The game starts at 6 p.m., an hour earlier than originally scheduled. …. Both teams are unbeaten over their past five games: L.A. 4-0-1 and Seattle 2-0-3. The Galaxy is 7-2-1 over its past 10, outscoring opponents, 24-14. … L.A. leads MLS with 20 road goals and is in the top five in goals, assists, shots, shots on goal and corner kicks. … New Seattle designated player Christian Tiffert has received his visa and is eligible to make his MLS debut. … The upper deck will be open, and a crowd of more than 60,000 is expected. … Seattle forward Johnson and midfielder Andy Rose are one caution away from yellow-card suspension. … The referee is Chris Penso.
QUOTABLE: “Keane was player of the month last month, so he’s on fire right now. Landon seems to be very comfortable playing up front. It makes them a very dangerous strike team.” – Sounders coach Sigi Schmid.
NEXT: The Sounders will play Sporting Kansas City at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Kansas for the U.S. Open Cup crown. They return to Major League Soccer play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at San Jose.Don Ruiz, staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8808 blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt