After a couple of days off, the Sounders return to training today, begining preparations for a two-game run that includes the start of CONCACAF Champions League on Thursday and a big Western Conference match on Sunday -- both at CenturyLink Field.
Here's some preview information from the club:
Gaining momentum in league play, Seattle Sounders FC returns home to kick off a stretch of three games across three competitions in six days. It begins with a pair of home matches as Sounders FC hosts Trinidad's Caledonia AIA in the opening round of the CONCACAF Champions League group stage on Thursday followed by a meeting with the surging LA Galaxy on Sunday evening on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field.
Sounders FC added its newest Designated Player last week in German midfielder Christian Tiffert. Tiffert joins Seattle after 12 years of top level experience in Germany and Austria, including leading the German Bundesliga with 17 assists in the 2010-11 season.
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Thursday's match against Caledonia is set for 7 p.m. PT and will be televised live on Fox Soccer. The match versus Los Angeles will kickoff at 6 p.m. PT on Sunday, and will be played in front of a national television audience on ESPN2 as well as a huge home crowd of 55,000-plus. Both games can also be heard on 97.3 KIRO FM with Thom Beuning and Taylor Graham calling the action on Thursday and Beuning and Kasey Keller will call Sunday's match.
Amidst a stretch of five games in 15 days, Sounders FC (9-5-7, 34 points) jumped to third in the West and sixth in the race for the Supporters' Shield with Saturday's road win at Colorado. Seattle swept the season series over the Rapids with three wins, and the team extended its unbeaten run to five (2-0-3) league games - tied for the second-longest active streak in MLS.
Seattle's All-Stars led the Rave Green to its first road win in seven outings. Just three days after scoring the late winner for the MLS All-Stars over Chelsea, Eddie Johnson netted the earliest goal in franchise history with his second-minute header, and then provided the assist on Osvaldo Alonso's second-half game-winning volley.
Johnson leads the team with nine goals and ranks sixth in the MLS Golden Boot race. Mauro Rosales recorded his team-leading seventh assist (seventh in MLS).
Sounders FC now sets its sights on international competition as the four-game Champions League group stage begins at home against Caledonia. Located in Malabar, Trinidad, Seattle will travel for the return leg on August 30 and will play the two-leg series against Honduras' CD Marathòn in September and October.
The winner of the three-team group will advance to the quarterfinals, which will be played in March of 2013. Sounders FC reached the quarterfinals of the 2011-12 tournament, but fell to Mexico's Santos Laguna - eventual runners-up to CF Monterrey.
Seventy-two hours later, Sounders FC welcomes the LA Galaxy (10-10-3, 33 points) to the Emerald City in a Western Conference clash. The Galaxy climbed into the fifth and final playoff spot in the West with a win at Dallas on Saturday, extending its unbeaten run to five games, including four wins.
The hectic schedule continues with the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final at Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday, August 8. Sounders FC is vying to become the first club in the 99-year history of the tournament to win four straight Open Cup championships.
Seattle will stay on the road to conclude the five-match stretch against the league-leading San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, August 11 at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Tickets for Sounders FC home MLS and Champions League matches are available at www.SoundersFC.com or by calling 800-745-3000.
Upcoming Competition Schedule (times are Pacific & subject to change)
Thursday, August 2, 7 p.m. - Sounders FC vs. Caledonia, Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle
Sunday, August 5, 6 p.m. - Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy, Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle
Wednesday, August 8, 6 p.m. - Sounders FC at Sporting Kansas City, LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan.
Saturday, August 11, 7:30 p.m. - Sounders FC at San Jose Earthquakes, Buck Shaw Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
Saturday, August 18, 1 p.m. - Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle
Return to Champions League
Just five months after falling to Mexico's Santos Laguna in the quarterfinals, Sounders FC returns to the CONCACAF Champions League for the third time, qualifying for the tournament every eligible year since joining MLS. Seattle joins the LA Galaxy and Toronto FC as the only MLS clubs to participate in the CCL the past three seasons. Sounders FC is in group four alongside Caribbean champion Caledonia AIA and CD Marathòn of Honduras. The four-round group stage begins on August 2 and will conclude on October 24. The winners of the eight three-team groups will advance to the knockout round where they will be ranked 1-8 based on their results from the Group Stage and paired accordingly. The quarterfinal round will be played in March of 2013. Seattle faced Marathòn in the 2010-11 Champions League, winning 2-0 at home and losing 2-1 on the road. The CONCACAF Champions League is open to the leading teams from federations throughout North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
2012/13 CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage Schedule
Thursday, August 2, 7 p.m. PT - Sounders FC vs. Caledonia, Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle
Thursday, August 30, 5 p.m. PT - Sounders FC at Caledonia, Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, Trinidad and Tobago
Wednesday, September 19, 7 p.m. PT - Sounders FC at Marathòn, Estadio Olimpico, San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Wednesday, October 24, 7 p.m. PT - Sounders FC vs. Marathòn, Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field, Seattle
CCL of Years Past
The CONCACAF Champions League has become a staple in Seattle's competitive schedule. As the club enters the tournament for the third time in four years, Sounders FC can draw from previous experiences in hopes of a successful run of play. Overall, Seattle has played 18 CCL games, going 7-9-2 with a minus-four goal differential (23 goals scored/27 goals allowed). Fredy Montero leads all current Seattle players with four goals and five assists in CCL play. He is one goal from tying Mike Fucito's mark of five goals and he is tied with Alvaro Fernandez for the all-time assist leader. Montero is also the club's all-time leader with 1,164 minutes played in the international tournament.