The Sounders are encouraging fans attending the noon Saturday match vs. Chicago to arrive early (Gates open at 10:30.) due to the usual construction issues and the unusually close bump with a 1 p.m. Mariners game.
I'll write more about this for the Saturday paper, but this collision of soccer and baseball is usually avoided due to a Sounders/Mariners/City agreement that usually bars games across the street from each other at the same time.
Usually, when soccer and baseball games are expected to draw a combined attendance of 70,000 on weekends or 58,000 on weekdays, there must be a three-hour gap between the projected end of one game and the start of the other.
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However, the agreement acknowledges that conflicts can be inevitable, so it allows for two weekend exceptions and two weekday exceptions. This first use of the exception comes because ESPN selected the Sounders-Fire game for national telecast. And there's little arguing with the choice, as this match projects among the best of this MLS season, if only for the first Qwest appearance of the Fire's utterly unique All-Star Cuauhtemoc Blanco.
More information at SoundersFC.com.
Meanwhile, a quick scouting report:
CHICAGO FIRE (7-3-7, 28 pts.)
AT SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (7-3-7; 28)
Noon Saturday, Qwest Field.
Radio: 97.3 FM (in Spanish on 1210 AM).
Head-to-head: The teams tied 1-1 on May 2 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.
Team leaders: For Chicago – G 6 Brian McBride; A 7 Cuauhtemoc Blanco; S 38 McBride; SOG 18 McBride/Marco Pappa. For Seattle – G 9 Fredy Montero; A 6 Montero/Nate Jaqua; S 52 Montero; SOG 21 Montero.
Coach Sigi Schmid scouting report: "I think the guys know we didn't play well the first time in Chicago. Chicago's sitting in first place in their conference. So that's important for us, too: We want to continue to maintain where we're at and to continue to push up. It's going to be a tight race for the playoffs at the end, and we want to stay in the top two in the West."
Notes: Seattle is unbeaten in its last five league games, Chicago in its last three. … Six MLS All-Stars are expected to be on the pitch: Montero, Kasey Keller, Freddie Ljungberg and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado for Seattle; Blanco and defender Wilman Conde for Chicago. … The Fire will be without McBride (shoulder), Bakary Soumare (card accumulation) and Gonzalo Segares (Costa Rican national team) and Logan Pause (USA); Pappa is probable (knee). For Seattle, Brad Evans (USA national team) is out and Patrick Ianni (toe) is probable. … Montero has scored goals in five straight league games, the longest streak in MLS this season. … Stephen King came to Seattle from Chicago in the expansion draft. Chicago's Brandon Prideaux is a Renton native who played at the University of Washington and with the USL Sounders. He will return to UW as an assistant soccer coach after this season. … If Ljungberg is cautioned today, he will receive a one-game suspension for yellow-card accumulation. ... The game is sold out.
Next: MLS pauses for its All-Star Game, Wednesday at Sandy, Utah. Seattle's season resumes Aug. 2 at San Jose.