That headline is sort of a nod to one of my favorite soccer magazings -- "When Saturday Comes" -- which my wife brought home to me once when she was visiting England, got talking soccer with a Chelsea supporter and he gave her the magazine to give to me. I liked it so much I subscribed for several years. (But not for a while. However, I still check them online, and today was greeted by a story titled: "US refuses to embrace football.")
In any case, that wasn't the point of this post. The point was supposed to be that Saturday is here, and with it the biggest games yet for Seattle Sounders FC, at least in terms of the standings and in helping us decide if the Sounders are an exceptional expansion team or a potentially exceptional MLS team.
A couple of issues:
The lineup: After a week of uncertainty, coach Sigi Schmid said he expects that he will have Chris Eylander as his starting keeper tonight as Kasey Keller serves out the final 90 minutes of his red-card suspension. It will be Eylanders' first MLS start -- first MLS playing time, in fact. However, I also asked Schmid if he was going with the same lineup in the field as last week -- mostly meaning with Steve Zakuani on the bench, which happened last week to accommodate Fredy and Freddie -- and Schmid said he wanted to keep that a secret until gametime. So, there could be a couple of interesting lineup issues tonight.
Grass: This will be the Sounders' first regular-season game on grass, as Home Depot Center has a natural surface. When I asked Schmid about that a couple of days ago, he just gave a quick jokey answer about it not making much difference. But someone else asked yesterday, and while that was still his bottom line, he went a little deeper into the subject: "Not really," he said. "I think the guys have trained on grass all week, and so they should be used to it. It's a different type of feel for them physically. The turf sort of wears on your joints a little bit. And the grass sometimes, it depends with Home Depot you never know what shaped the grass is in, but grass is a little heavier, so it makes it a little heavier for your legs a little bit. We'll see. I feel pretty good in terms of wear we are fitness wise."
Unfortunately, I'm not in Los Angeles. (However, I know some of the readers of this blog are down there. Have fun.) But I'll pass along any pregame news I discover, will watch on KING-5 tonight and then pop on for one of those good post-game discussions we've been developing over the past few games.
In any case, here's a quick pregame scouting report:
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (3-1-0, 9 pts.)
AT CHIVAS USA (3-0-1; 10 pts.)
7:30 p.m., Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.
TV: KING 5.
Radio: 97.3 FM, and in Spanish on 1210 AM.
Head-to-head: This is the first meeting. The Sounders will return to Chivas on June 6, and Chivas will visit Seattle on Sept. 19. Sounders' coach Sigi Schmid is 1-3-2 vs. Chivas.
Team leaders: For Seattle, G: 3 Fredy Moreno; A: 3, Osvaldo Alonso; S: 11 Montero; SOG: 6 Montero. For Chivas, G: 2 Eduardo Lillingston/Paulo Nagamura; A: 2 Gerson Mayen; S: 6, Atiba Harris/Sacha Kljestan; SOG: 5 Kljestan.
Schmid scouting report: "Chivas obviously is a good team: They haven't lost any games. I know everybody's talking about they got some guys injured; but those guys have been injured for a while, so they got a team rhythm with the guys that they're playing right now. And they still have a good nucleus of veteran players with Carey Talley, and Jesse Marsch. … Nagamura got a red card the last game, so he won't be playing against us, but there's a good nucleus of players. Sacha Kljestan is a very important player for their team. He's been healthy all season. They move the ball around fairly well."
Notes: Chivas is coached by Preki, a former standout player with the Tacoma Stars. … Conference-leading Chivas is the only unbeaten team in the MLS West. … Seven Chivas players are out due to injury and Justin Braun (knee) and Maykel Galindo (sports hernia surgery) are doubtful. Among the missing players is Claudio Suarez, who has the most appearances in Mexican national team history. … Seattle has allowed one goal, fewest in MLS. … A win or a draw today would give the Sounders the best expansion record after five games in MLS history. Evan a loss would match the Miami Fustion's 3-2 start in 1998. … Former USL Sounder Chris Eylander is expected to make his MLS debut, starting in place of No. 1 goalkeeper Kasey Keller who is ineligible after receiving a red card last week. … This will be Seattle's first game on natural grass.
Next: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, vs. San Jose Earthquakes; Qwest Field.