Sounders Insider

Sounders off: notes leading to Toronto FC visit

toronto_100[1]The Sounders aren't training today. So in that absence of news, we'll pass along these notes from the club:

Riding the momentum of a last-gasp Opening Day victory, Seattle Sounders FC hosts the new-look Toronto FC in a star-studded matchup on Saturday afternoon on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. PT (originally scheduled for 7 p.m.).

Saturday's match will be televised locally on Q13 FOX, nationally on NBC Sports Network and locally in Spanish on THIS-TV (KOMO2). The match can also be heard on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM and in Spanish on ESPN Deportes Radio Seattle.

Sounders FC (1-0-0, 3 points) kicked off the regular-season campaign in dramatic fashion last Saturday with a late home win over the defending MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City. Seattle newcomer Chad Barrett entered the match in the second half and tapped in the game-winner in stoppage time to tie Seattle's latest goal scored in club history.

Alongside Barrett, five other Sounders FC players made their club debuts on Saturday, including goalkeeper Stefan Frei and rookie Homegrown Player Sean Okoli. The win extended Seattle's winning streak to eight games over Sporting KC, and marked Seattle's 11th victory in the past 15 home matches.

Seattle will look to continue to build confidence and pile up points early in the season as four other Western Conference teams took all three points last weekend. Three MLS teams - San Jose, Kansas City and Los Angeles - will play midweek games in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.

Sounders FC enters Saturday's match riding a five-game winning streak against Toronto FC and will look to improve its unbeaten home record (3-0-1) in the all-time series. The match will be the lone meeting of the season between the two sides. The match will be the first of the season for Toronto FC following a Week 1 bye. The retooled Toronto FC squad features international stars Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe, Brazilian standouts Julio Cesar and Gilberto, and former MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario. The team finished the 2013 season ninth in the East, earning the third-fewest points (29) in MLS.

Sounders FC will continue to celebrate 40 years of professional soccer in Seattle on Saturday afternoon by honoring the 2007 USL champion Seattle Sounders. The team was coached by current Sounders FC Top Assistant Coach Brian Schmetzer and featured defender Zach Scott and several other former MLS Sounders, including Taylor Graham, Sebastien Le Toux and Roger Levesque.

Following Saturday's match, Sounders FC will travel to Montreal for the first road contest of the season against the Impact on March 22. The team will return to Seattle to host the Columbus Crew on March 29 on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field.

Tickets for Sounders FC home matches are available now at www.SoundersFC.com and 1-877-MLS-GOAL. The 6-Match ticket package is also available now with expanded seating to include the upper bowl at CenturyLink Field.

Kickoff Time ChangeSaturday's match against Toronto FC will kick off at 1:30 p.m. PT. The match was originally scheduled for 7 p.m., and was rescheduled on February 10 to accommodate the television broadcasts.

Where to WatchSaturday's match will be aired by Q13 FOX, the Official Over The Air Partners of Sounders FC, exclusively in Western Washington, marking the station's first Sounders FC match broadcast. Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller will call the action, and can also be heard on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM. The pregame television show will be hosted by Jackie Montgomery with Taylor Graham and Pete Fewing. The pre/postgame radio show will be hosted by Matt Johnson with Wade Webber.

The match will also be aired nationally outside of Western Washington on NBC Sports Network with John Strong and Kyle Martino on the call. The Spanish broadcasts are available on THIS-TV (KOMO2) with Jaime Mendez and Diego Arrioja and ESPN Deportes Radio Seattle with Rene Aleman and Noe Menendez. TSN and RDS2 will televise the match in Canada.

Home is Where the Wins AreSounders FC opened the regular season at home for the sixth-straight year, improving to 4-2-0 in season openers. Seattle has won 11 of its past 15 home matches, losing just one time at CenturyLink Field since May 11, 2013. Sounders FC matched its best home point total (35) in 2013, highlighted by a 14-game (10-0-4) home unbeaten streak and a league-best six-game home winning streak.

Sounders March OnThe season opening win over Sporting Kansas City last Saturday marked the club's first win in March since a 2-0 win over Houston on March 23, 2012. Sounders FC improved to 6-6-2 in 14 all-time matches in March, outscoring opponents 16-10. Seattle will play three more matches this month, beginning Saturday against Toronto FC. The team will then travel to Montreal for the first road match of the season against the Impact, and the month concludes with a home game against the Columbus Crew. All four of Seattle's opponents in March belong to the Eastern Conference, and the four matches fall on consecutive Saturdays, including three day games.

Record Crowd on Opening DaySaturday's crowd of 39,240 marked the largest Opening Day crowd in club history, extending Seattle's sellout streak to 89 consecutive matches. The previous high of 39,232 was set on March 17, 2012, against Toronto FC. Sounders FC currently ranks 37th in world attendance, and will likely move up the charts in 2014 with five full stadium regular-season matches. Seattle's average of 44,039 in 2013 set the league record for the fifth-straight year. U.S. Teammates Face OffClint Dempsey and Brad Evans will face off against U.S. National Team teammate Michael Bradley on Saturday. Dempsey and Bradley are core players for the USMNT team, and both have played extensively in Europe's top leagues. Both players were originally selected in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft as Dempsey was selected eighth by the New England Revolution and Bradley was taken 36th overall by the New York MetroStars.

Sounders FC DebutantsThe season opener marked the Sounders FC debut for several newcomers. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, defender Chad Marshall, midfielder Marco Pappa and forward Kenny Cooper all started the match for their first appearances in Rave Green. Forward Chad Barrett and rookie Homegrown Player Sean Okoli made their debuts as second-half substitutes, and were both involved in the game-winning goal. Cooper led the team with five shots and Barrett took a team-high two shots.

Remick Makes First MLS StartDylan Remick's start last Saturday marked his first regular-season start and the first home appearance for the second-year left back. He previously played 25 minutes at Colorado (10/5/13) and started a team-high 12 matches in the 2013 MLS Reserve League. Remick finished the 2014 preseason with a team-high three assists and tied for the team lead with seven appearances and 390 minutes.

Series Notes* Sounders FC has posted a record of 6-1-1 in eight all-time meetings against Toronto FC.* Seattle has scored multiple goals in five of the eight all-time meetings, including three goals on three occasions. * Sounders FC has outscored Toronto 14-6, including 8-1 in the opening 45 minutes. * Seattle has gone 3-0-1 at home in the series, outscoring Toronto 9-3. * The Seattle defense has kept four clean sheets, and has allowed two goals in the past 360 minutes.* David Estrada leads all players with three goals in the series, and Brad Evans is the active leader with two assists.

About Toronto FCThe Toronto FC squad underwent a massive overhaul in the offseason in hopes of capturing the club's first-ever berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs. General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko and Head Coach Ryan Nelsen have brought in nine new players while 12 players from the 2013 team did not return. Saturday's match will be the first of the season for Toronto FC following a first-week bye, and the team will play its home opener on March 22 against D.C. United.

The Reds went 1-2-2 in the 2014 preseason. In the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Orlando, Fla., Toronto went 0-2-2, falling to the Columbus Crew (3-1) and Fluminense U-23 (4-2) while drawing Orlando City (1-1) and Philadelphia Union (0-0). The team also played a friendly against D.C. United in Bradenton, Fla., winning 1-nil on an 85th minute winner from Bright Dike.

Toronto FC Notables The star-studded Toronto FC roster features international stars Michael Bradley and Jermaine Defoe. Bradley, a mainstay on the U.S. National Team, has accumulated 82 caps and has spent the past eight seasons playing in Europe's top leagues, primarily playing for Heerenveen of the Dutch Eredivisie and Borussia Monchengladbach of the German Bundesliga. Bradley also spent time with Aston Villa (England), Chievo (Italy) and Roma (Italy) before signing with the Reds on January 13. Defoe is an English international with 55 caps and 19 goals, playing professionally in Europe since 1999. He spent the majority of his career with Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League, and also spent time with West Ham and Portsmouth, joining Toronto FC on January 10.

The international additions continue with celebrated Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who joined Toronto FC on loan from Queens Park Rangers on February 14. Cesar has made 78 appearances for the Brazilian National Team, and earned Series A Goalkeeper of the Year two times while playing for Inter. The reds also added Brazilian striker Gilberto, former Dallas speedster Jackson and San Jose left back Justin Morrow. Six-time MLS Best XI midfielder and 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario has also returned to Toronto. The Canadian international previously played three seasons (2009-11) for the Reds.

SEA-TOR ConnectionsCurrent Sounders FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei joined Seattle in a trade on December 10, 2013, in exchange for a 2015 conditional first round SuperDraft pick. Frei made 82 starts in five seasons with Toronto after being selected with the 13th overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. In five games against Sounders FC, Frei made 20 saves, posted two shutouts and allowed seven goals, going 1-3-1. Sounders FC forward Chad Barrett played three seasons (2008-10) for Toronto FC, scoring 16 goals in 65 appearances, including a tally against Seattle in 2010.

Dempsey-Defoe Reunited Sounders FC midfielder Clint Dempsey will be reunited with his former Tottenham Hotspur teammate Jermain Defoe on Saturday afternoon. The duo played the 2012-13 season as teammates at Tottenham, and faced off in the English Premier League on numerous occasions when Dempsey played for Fulham. During the 2012-13 season, Dempsey finished third on Tottenham with seven goals and Defoe finished second with 11 goals, trailing leading scorer Gareth Bale (21 goals). Throw-insOn March 15, 2013, Sounders FC signed striker Obafemi Martins...On March 12, 2013, Sounders FC became the first MLS team to oust a Mexican team from the CONCACAF Champions League tournament with a 3-2 aggregate-goal series win over Tigres UANL. DeAndre Yedlin became the youngest player to score for Sounders FC and Djimi Traore's long-range strike was viewed over 1.5 million times on YouTube.

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