The Seattle Sounders are preparing to play the Colorado Rapids — as they did in April and again in May.
The Saturday night meeting at CenturyLink Field will mark Seattle’s third game with the Rapids in a season only 21 games old. However, while Seattle would like this one to play out like the first two — wins, home and away — this one could have its own dynamic.
“Colorado is a different team,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “They’ve played a 4-3-3 their last two games, and they’ve won the last two games. So I would imagine that the coach (Pablo Mastroeni) wants to stay with that formation and that system.”
Things also will be considerably different for the Sounders. The last time these clubs met, Schmid wrote out a lineup that included Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Marco Pappa, Brad Evans and Stefan Frei. None of those players are expected to start this time.
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However, this match could mark an early edge back toward normalcy for Seattle. Frei trained this week, and wasn’t ruled out after sitting out last weekend with a shoulder injury. And indications are that Pappa will be available after returning from CONCACAF Gold Cup duty with the Guatemala national team.
“Happy to be back with the (Seattle) team,” Pappa said after Friday training. “… I talked to the coaches. I’m feeling fine. It was a lot of travel, a lot of games, a lot of minutes. I feel good. I’ll be ready for whatever happens. I’ll probably be on the bench.”
The Sounders welcome any additional options, as they have lost four of their last five matches, including a late 1-0 loss last week at Chicago. They have scored two goals over those five matches.
“We obviously hoped some other guys could step up,” Seattle general manager Garth Lagerwey said. “As I said when (Dempsey and Martins) left, we didn’t think collectively there was a one-for-one replacement on the roster. I don’t think anybody in the world does. But could we collectively generate a little bit more offense out of midfield, out of some of the guys who didn’t play striker all the time but were now getting a chance? That obviously hasn’t happened.”
The Sounders’ defensive end has mostly kept things close. The club gave up four goals at Portland last month, but otherwise it hasn’t allowed more than two goals during the slump.
However, veteran defender Zach Scott noted that preventing goals and scoring goals are both 11-man responsibilities.
“We’ve got to make sure out of the back — and even through the midfield — that we’re giving our forwards the correct balls in order to score,” he said. “They can’t do it all by themselves. Maybe guys like Clint and Oba can, but the way our team is set up now, it’s got to be a good worked team goal. … (We have to realize) that the roster isn’t changing, the 18 isn’t changing, our starting 11 really isn’t changing that much. We just have to be confident in the guys that are out there. I don’t think anybody’s worried that isn’t going to come.”
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (10-8-2; 32 POINTS) VS. COLORADO RAPIDS (4-6-9; 21 POINTS)
7 p.m., CenturyLink Field
TV: Channel 13. RADIO: 97.3 FM
HEAD TO HEAD: Seattle leads the series 13-2-2 overall and 8-0-1 in Seattle. The Sounders have taken the first two meetings this season: 3-1 in Colorado on April 18 and 1-0 in Seattle on May 27. This is the last scheduled match of the season between the teams.
NOTES: The Sounders have lost four of their last five games, including a 1-0 defeat at Chicago last weekend. However, they won their last home match: July 3 against D.C. United. … The Rapids have won back-to-back games, most recently 3-1 at home against Real Salt Lake. Colorado hasn’t won three in a row since 2011. … Seattle is 7-2-1 at home; the Rapids are 1-3-5 away. … The Sounders remain without Clint Dempsey and Brad Evans due to international duty, and Obafemi Martins (leg) and, probably, Stefan Frei (shoulder) due to injury. However, midfielder Marco Pappa is back from service with the Guatemala national team and is expected to be on the game-day roster. Newly acquired midfielder Erik Friberg also could appear. … Colorado goals-leader Gabriel Torres is away with the Panama national team. The Rapids also will be without Bobby Burling (suspension), Luis Solignac (hamstring) and Dillon Serna (back). … Dillon Powers leads Colorado with five assists. … The Rapids have scored the fewest goals in MLS (17) and are tied with Seattle for the third-fewest allowed (19). … The match will be played on a temporary natural-grass surface that was installed for Friday’s Manchester United-Club America game. … Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso is one yellow card away from a one-game suspension for accumulation. … Baldomero Toledo will be the referee.
QUOTE: “It’s almost like grass on top of plywood. … The ball deadens a lot when it’s coming off of a punt or a high ball or something like that. It doesn’t have quite the same bounce. And you also have to be a little worried about seams. … But we’re also kind of excited about getting to play on grass at home. That doesn’t happen very often. We’ll have a good game. We’re all looking forward to it.” — Seattle defender Zach Scott on the temporary grass surface.
NEXT: 5 p.m. July 25, at Montreal.