Seattle Sounders FC has begun training for a pair of games that have meaning of a mostly indirect kind.
On Wednesday, the Sounders will play host to Marathon of Honduras in the final game of a CONCACAF Champions League group stage they already have clinched.
On Sunday, they will end their Major League Soccer regular season at Los Angeles in a game that will determine whether Seattle goes into its playoff series with Real Salt Lake as the No. 2 or 3 seed.
Still, coach Sigi Schmid made the case that even indirect prizes can be worth winning.
“The meaning for us in the first game on Wednesday is it affects our seeding as we go into the quarterfinals,” he said. “Determining whether we’re going to get one of those top three or four seeds or one of the bottom four seeds determines who you’re going to play in the next round. Obviously, there are some guys you’d like to avoid.”
A late wobble in CCL group play last season sent the Sounders into the quarterfinals against Santos Laguna. Two games and a 7-3 aggregate-score defeat later, they were eliminated by the eventual tournament runner-up.
In MLS, the Sounders already have clinched a spot in the playoff series that will pair the Nos. 2 and 3 finishers in the Western Conference. Those teams will be Seattle and RSL, but the order of their finish will go down to this final weekend.
If the Sounders win at Los Angeles, they all but assure themselves of the No. 2 spot, while a draw or loss opens the door for RSL to pass them, depending on its outcome at home against Vancouver on Saturday.
“Second place is always better,” Schmid said. “(And) it could affect where MLS Cup gets played. So they are games that don’t get us in the playoffs, it doesn’t get us into the next round in CONCACAF; but they are games that are still important from the standpoint of seeding and placement.”
After sitting out Seattle’s 3-1 win over Dallas on Sunday, Sounders midfielder Mario Martinez sent a tweet indicating he might like to leave for a club where he would get more playing time.
The tweet was later deleted, and Martinez clarified his position Monday.
“I want you all to understand that I’m really happy with the team,” he said through a translator. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of good players, and I have to wait my opportunity. Sometimes when you come from another country, you try to help the team, and that’s what I’m awaiting. What I said already happened, so now we need to concentrate on the game on Wednesday.”
Since signing with Seattle on Aug. 1, Martinez has appeared as a reserve in three MLS games for a total of 40 minutes. In CCL, he has made two starts and played 151 minutes.
He has one assist in all competitions for the Sounders. With the Honduras national team last week he recorded two goals and an assist in an 8-1 World Cup qualifying win over Canada.
Asked Monday about Martinez’s playing time and his going public to complain about it, Schmid said, “We’ll sort that out. Me and Mario are going to talk.”
Sounders midfielder Brad Evans was named MLS player of the week for the first time in his six-year career. Evans played two defender positions in a scoreless draw with Salt Lake and then scored two goals in the win against Dallas.
“I just don’t really care (about awards), to be honest,” he said. “It’s more for the team. I just want to push forward, and the only thing that’s on my mind is making the second round of the playoffs.”
The club also announced that forward/midfielder David Estrada has been named Sounders FC humanitarian of the year for his appearances in the community, including his role in one-on-one outreach to the Hispanic community.Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt