The only problem with covering the MLS All-Star Game in Portland is that the Sounders are training in Tukwila. I hope to get a few highlights from their session later today. But meanwhile, here are a few notes from the club:
In front of a full-stadium crowd and national television audience, Seattle Sounders FC returns home to host the Houston Dynamo in a Sunday night clash on ESPN2. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field. The national broadcast on ESPN2 will feature Adrian Healey, Taylor Twellman and Alexi Lalas on the call. The match can also be heard on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM with Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller calling the action, and in Spanish on ESPN Deportes 1490 AM with Rene Aleman and Noe Menendez. Atop the Western Conference standings, Sounders FC (12-6-2, 38 points) looks to regain its form after suffering two defeats last week. Seattle sits one point behind Sporting Kansas City in the race for the Supporters' Shield, and leads MLS with 1.9 points per game and 12 wins. Before the weekend's action, several Sounders FC players will join top players from across the league as the MLS All-Stars host Bayern Munich on Wednesday night at Portland's Providence Park. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. PT on ESPN2 and UniMas. Seattle's All-Star representatives include U.S. National Team captain Clint Dempsey, AT&T/EA SPORTS 'More Than a Vote' Challenge winner Obafemi Martins, Homegrown Player and U.S. international DeAndre Yedlin, four-time team MVP Osvaldo Alonso and former two-time MLS Defender of the Year and Sounders FC newcomer Chad Marshall. Following the All-Star festivities, Sounders FC will begin preparations for the busiest stretch of the season, playing five games from August 10-24. Sunday's match kicks off the busy stretch as CenturyLink Field will open to full capacity for the third time in MLS play this season, previously downing San Jose, 1-0, and Portland, 2-0. The match against Houston marks the lone meeting of the season between the two sides, and first meeting at CenturyLink Field since 2012. The series is level at 3-3-2 in regular season play, and the two teams also met in the MLS Cup Playoffs and U.S. Open Cup. The Houston Dynamo (6-11-4, 22 points) currently sit eighth in the Eastern Conference, five points from the fifth and final playoff spot. The beneficiaries of a stoppage time winner on Sunday, Houston has dropped just one of its past four matches (1-1-2) after a five-game losing streak from May 21 to June 29. Houston recently added U.S. National Team defender DaMarcus Beasley and Honduran midfielder Luis Garrido, joining Dynamo stalwarts Brad Davis, Will Bruin and Tally Hall. Just three days later, Sounders FC will continue its run for a record fourth U.S. Open Cup championship, hosting the Chicago Fire in the semifinal on August 13. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. PT at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Wash. The winner of the match will visit the Dallas-Philadelphia victor in the final. Tickets for Sounders FC home matches are available now at www.SoundersFC.com and 1-877-MLS-GOAL. The 3-Match ticket package is also available now with expanded seating to include the upper bowl at CenturyLink Field.
Schedule CongestionSounders FC readies for its busiest stretch of the season thus far, playing five matches over a 14-day stretch with a sixth game before the month concludes. The stretch begins on August 10 against the Houston Dynamo and continues with a pair of games just three days apart on August 13 (vs. Chicago Fire) and August 16 (at Real Salt Lake). The club then rests for four days before finishing the busy run with games on August 20 (vs. San Jose) and August 24 (at Portland Timbers), and capping the month with an August 30 home match against the Colorado Rapids. The 14-day stretch from August 10-24 will feature more games than the team played in the months of March, April, June and July (four matches each month). Depth TestedWith the congested two-week schedule, head coach Sigi Schmid will test the depth of his roster. Through 23 games across all competitions this season, Schmid has used 26 different players, including 24 starters. A total of 15 different players have recorded a goal or assist, with 12 players scoring at least one goal. In MLS play, Schmid has used 19 different starters and, of the eight players who have scored, seven players have tallied multiple goals.
Full-Stadium CrowdCenturyLink Field will be opened to full capacity on Sunday for just the third time in MLS play this season. In the previous two matches, Seattle beat the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-0, and Portland Timbers, 2-0, with the Timbers match featuring 64,207 in attendance. The largest-ever attendance for a Sounders FC match was 67,385 in a 1-nil win over the Portland Timbers on August 25, 2013, marking the second-largest crowd for a standalone match in MLS history. In home games with an attendance of more than 40,000, Sounders FC is 10-0-3 with a plus-19 goal differential (27 goals scored with eight goals allowed). Following Sunday's match, Seattle will host two more full-stadium matches this season, including the Vancouver Whitecaps FC on October 10 and LA Galaxy on October 25.
August RecordSaturday's defeat at San Jose marked just the third loss in the month of August since 2010. Overall, Sounders FC has gone 13-6-4 in August, outscoring opponents 37-20. Seattle dropped just one August match in each of the past two seasons and won a club record four games in August 2013. The six MLS games scheduled this month matches the club record for most games in August.