There will be shades of Seattle’s 2009 expansion season before and during the match Sunday, when the Sounders play host to the Los Angeles Galaxy.
During pregame ceremonies, coach Sigi Schmid and former goalkeeper and Olympia native Kasey Keller will be honored for their National Soccer Hall of Fame inductions. And once the game begins, Seattle’s starting 11 could include four players who have been around since the inaugural season: midfielder Osvaldo Alonso and defenders Brad Evans, Zach Scott and Leo Gonzalez.
“Obviously it’s a testament to those guys for taking care of their bodies, No. 1,” Evans said. “But also being able to perform at the highest level so consistently. It’s a good accomplishment, but I’m confident in whoever is on the field.”
Evans came to Seattle in the expansion draft and has been a regular starter at various positions since. Alonso was signed from the USL Charleston Battery during the run up to that first season, and settled in as a star defensive midfielder.
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Scott — who owner Adrian Hanauer calls “Mr. Sounder” — has been with the club through its USL days, and recently reached the 100-appearance mark with the MLS team. He has provided depth at central defense this season and seems likely to be needed again Sunday with both usual starters out: Roman Torres lost for the season with a knee injury, and Chad Marshall out for the game after suffering a neck sprain in training Wednesday.
Gonzalez joined the club as a free agent in July 2009. He had been the first-choice starter for most of his time here before falling into a reserve role this season behind first Dylan Remick and then Oniel Fisher. Fisher is expected to miss this match with a hamstring injury, while Gonzalez seems to have passed Remick on the depth chart.
Alonso is 29, Evans 30, Gonzalez 34 and Scott 35. Schmid was asked if he would have thought so many players from the first season could still be starting a crucial game down the stretch of the seventh season.
“You always hope for it,” Schmid said. “You always hope that there are guys who are going to be around, who will play for you and who will play a long time. Obviously in 2009, they were a lot younger then.”
Schmid also was hired before the 2009 season and is the only head coach the club has had. Keller signed four months earlier and was the Sounders’ starting goalkeeper until his retirement after the 2011 season.
Between them, they have seen a lot of Sounders-Galaxy matches. And they’ve suffered a lot of frustration as the Galaxy has an 8-4-5 advantage in the regular-season series and eliminated the Sounders from the MLS playoffs in 2010, 2012 and again last season.
“Every game is a new experience, every game is a new adventure,” Schmid said. “We’re not worried about past games as we play L.A. this time. … We know we’ve got to go through them to get where we want to go, and I think they know they’ve got to get through us at some point as well.”
DEMPSEY, EVANS CALLED UP
U.S. men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann named the Sounders’ Clint Dempsey and Evans to the 23-man roster that will face Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup match Saturday at the Rose Bowl.
“Everybody should be back and ready for (the next MLS match Oct. 18 at Houston),” Schmid said. “The game against Mexico is the big game on Saturday night. They have another game (Oct. 13 vs. Costa Rica) all the way in New York. I don’t know what Jurgen is going to do for that second game, but certainly the big game is against Mexico. Our guys will be gone for that, and then we’ll see.”
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LOS ANGELES GALAXY (14-9-8; 50 POINTS) AT SEATTLE SOUNDERS (14-13-4; 46)
6:30 p.m. Sunday, CenturyLink Field
TV: Fox Sports 1. Radio: 97.3-FM.
Head to head: Los Angeles leads the regular-season series 8-4-5. The series is even, 3-3-2, in Seattle. LA has swept the first two meetings this season, 1-0 in April and 3-1 in August, both at home. This is the final meeting of the regular season.
Notes: The stadium will be open to full capacity, and a crowd of around 55,000 is expected. … This will mark the Seattle debut for Galaxy designated players Steven Gerrard and Giovani dos Santos. … Defending MLS Cup champion Los Angeles clinches a playoff spot with a win and could get in with a tie or even loss depending on other results. The Sounders also could clinch with a win, but three other weekend results would have to fall the right way. … Seattle is unbeaten (3-0-2) over its past five matches. L.A. is 2-2-1. … The Sounders are 10-4-1 at home, while the Galaxy is 2-8-5 away. … Obafemi Martins leads Seattle with 14 goals, while Clint Dempsey leads with nine assists. Martins has scored goals in five consecutive games, matching Fredy Montero’s club record. Robbie Keane leads LA with 16 goals and eight assists. … A pregame ceremony will honor Seattle coach Sigi Schmid and former Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who were inducted Saturday into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. The Sounders will wear their pitch-black uniforms with a new “Halo 5: Guardians” jersey sponsor, and the first 20,000 fans will receive Halo/Sounders T-shirts. … Some NFL markings will be on the field in advance of the Seahawks’ Monday night home game against the Detroit Lions. … Those attending are reminded that the Seattle Mariners play a 12:10 p.m. game at Safeco Field. … Seattle central defenders Chad Marshall (neck) and Roman Torres (knee) are out, and left back Oniel Fisher (hamstring) is questionable. … Sounders Gonzalo Pineda, Brad Evans and Andy Rose are one yellow card from accumulation suspension, as is Los Angeles’ Juninho. … The referee is Jair Marrufo.
Quote: “The main thing with L.A., you’ve got to force them to defend a little bit. They’re a team that likes to leave guys high, and they hope to get away with defending in smaller numbers and catch you on the counter. So the better we can hold on to the ball, the more we can make them defend, the better it is for us.” — Schmid on the Galaxy.
Next: The Sounders return to action Oct. 18 at Houston.