The Seattle Sounders have 13 points in the MLS standings, and so do their Saturday opponents, the New England Revolution.
But while those 13 points had the Sounders starting the weekend six points below the playoff red line, those same 13 points have the Revs just six points from their conference lead.
The West has generally been the stronger side ever since Seattle joined MLS in 2009, but the disparity seems greater than ever. In interconference games over 2015 and so far this season, the West has 222 total points, the East 165.
“That’s just the way it is,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “Why that’s the way it is, I can’t tell you for sure, but that’s the way it is right now. Maybe as the season goes on it might even out a little bit, because (Eastern teams) start playing each other more. … We’ve done all right. Our record against Eastern teams has been OK so far, so we have to continue to do that and do well on the road as well.”
While Schmid can’t explain the disparity, his team is in position to benefit from it — Seattle is about to begin a of run of five straight games against Eastern teams. After the Saturday night match at New England, the Sounders will visit D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls, then welcome New York City FC for the first time before traveling to Toronto FC.
The slumping Sounders hope form holds, as they have won their three previous meetings against Eastern Conference opponents Montreal, Philadelphia and Columbus by a combined 4-1.
However, those matches were played at CenturyLink Field. And while the Sounders’ good news is that they’re unbeaten against the East, their bad news is they are winless on the road. Something’s got to give. And with the Sounders ninth in the 10-team Western Conference, they have to hope it’s the road futility.
“We haven’t had great road results,” general manager Garth Lagerwey said. “But we have an opportunity going up now to play a couple of Eastern Conference teams on the road in a couple of days, and shoot, a week from now we could be back at .500 with the road woes solved. Look, I’m an optimist; I always will be.”
The Sounders will play without forwards Clint Dempsey and Nelson Valdez, who are away with the United States and Paraguayan national teams respectively. That adds to the degree of difficulty for an offense that has scored 10 goals, fewest in the conference and second fewest in the league.
However, the Revs have allowed 24 goals — tied for most in the league — including four last week in a loss to Dallas.
“It means they’re going to play hard and really concentrate this week on defending and not giving up goals,” Schmid said. “The reality of the situation is right now we’re a team that’s not scoring a lot of goals. … It’s just a matter of us finishing. I know they’re going to be focused, they’re going to be concentrated and working on their defense, but it’s all about us and how we do.”
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (2-4-7; 13 POINTS) VS. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-6-1; 13 POINTS)
4:30 p.m., Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
TV: JOEtv. Radio: 97.3 FM.
Head to head: The series is even 4-4-2, but New England leads at home, 3-1-1. The Sounders lost, 5-0, in their last visit, but won 3-0 last season at CenturyLink Field. This is the only scheduled meeting.
Notes: Seattle has lost back-to-back games, while the Revs have lost two of their last three. … Jordan Morris leads Seattle with four goals. Juan Agudelo, Lee Nguyen and Diego Fagundez share the New England lead with three goals each. … Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe was born in Federal Way. … New England defender Je-Vaughn Watson (Jamaica) is away on international duty. Sounders forwards Clint Dempsey (USA) and Nelson Valdez (Paraguay) are with their national teams, and reserve forward Oalex Anderson is out with a hamstring injury. Seattle central defender Chad Marshall is expected to return after missing last week with a hamstring injury. … Gillette Stadium and CenturyLink Field are the only MLS venues shared with an NFL team. The Revs average 17,529 per home date. … New England midfielder Gershon Koffie is one yellow card from suspension for accumulation. Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso is two cautions away. … The assigned referee is Fotis Bazakos.
Quote: “Every game – no matter who’s playing, where you’re playing, who you’re playing against — you have to approach the game the same way. I’m going to try to approach the game similar: just go out and focus on what I’m good at and what I can bring to the table and just try to help the team win.” — Morris on playing without Dempsey.
Next: The Sounders will remain on the East Coast for their 5 p.m. Wednesday match at D.C. United.
Don Ruiz: firstname.lastname@example.org