With the calendar flipping to October, Seattle Sounders FC finally can see the end of the Major League Soccer regular season, which began in mid-March.
Before Halloween arrives, the Sounders will resolve their MLS Western Conference playoff position, their seeding for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals and the 2012 Cascadia Cup competition.
“We’re encouraged because we have some regular weeks of training, and now we’ve got our next three games at home,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “… We’ve been traveling so much, and we’ve been doing so much with a lack of training because of the amount of games being so tight and furious. It’s good for us to be able to take a couple of days off now and then start getting ready for Portland. So we’ll start thinking about Portland on Tuesday. The players, I might start thinking about them earlier.”
The Timbers visit CenturyLink Field on Sunday, a match that could resolve the Cascadia Cup – although Seattle hopes it doesn’t.
Portland (2-0-2, 8 points) could clinch a win or a draw. A win by the Sounders (1-1-3, 6 points) would push them into the lead, but still would leave them vulnerable to being passed by their rivals in the final Cup competition Oct. 21, when the Timbers visit Vancouver.
The Sounders and Whitecaps played to a scoreless draw in Vancouver on Saturday, which clinched a fourth playoff appearance for Seattle in its four years in MLS.
“It’s not enough,” midfielder Mauro Rosales said after the game against the Whitecaps. “We came here for the three points, and we hope the next game we can win – at home against Portland – for our fans. That is something that we want and we have to work for that.”
After the Timbers’ visit, the Sounders’ stay at home continues against Real Salt Lake on Oct. 17 and against FC Dallas on Oct. 21. Seattle ends its regular season Oct. 28 at Los Angeles.
Salt Lake, L.A. and the Sounders remain in competition for the second, third and fourth Western Conference playoff seeds.
On Oct. 24, Seattle concludes Champions League group play with a home match against Marathon of Honduras. Seattle already has clinched the group, and Marathon already has been eliminated, so the match only affects Seattle’s seeding for the quarterfinals when the tournament resumes in 2013.
Schmid gave his team Sunday and today off before the players return Tuesday to begin preparing for Portland.
“We have to win: no excuses,” keeper Michael Gspurning said. “We all know this, and all week we will be focused on this game on Sunday.”email@example.com 253-597-8808 blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt