Playoff inconvenience? Sounders are grateful

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comOctober 29, 2013 

The Seattle Sounders’ 72-hour turnaround from the Major League Soccer regular season to the playoffs has its challenges, but it beats the alternative.

“Nine teams are done,” coach Sigi Schmid said Monday. “We’re one of 10 teams that are still playing. It’s an old mantra I keep saying: ‘You can’t win it unless you’re in the playoffs.’ We’re in the playoffs. … This is where you want to be. You’d rather be doing this – getting ready for a game on Wednesday – than cleaning out your locker.”

The Sounders ended their regular season Sunday with a 1-1 draw against the Los Angeles Galaxy. At 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, they will open the playoffs with a knockout match against the Colorado Rapids at CenturyLink Field.

Both teams face the quick turnaround because they failed to get the weekend results needed to improve their seeding. The Sounders (15-12-7) settled for fourth place in the West when a win would have given them third place and sent them directly to the conference semifinal round. Also Sunday, Colorado (14-11-9) dropped a 3-0 decision at Vancouver, which kept the Rapids fifth in the West.

With so little time between games, the Rapids bused directly down from Canada without returning home.

Meanwhile, the Sounders went through light training Monday. Players who played long minutes Sunday did regeneration work indoors, while reserves worked on the practice field.

The club will train lightly again Tuesday, but once Wednesday rolls around, Schmid said the idea of resting sore muscles goes out the window.

“It is something that both teams have to do, and it is better for us to play at home,” designated player Clint Dempsey said. “It would have been nice to get the win (Sunday) and not be in this situation, but at the same time at least we don’t have to travel. It is always good to play at home in front of the fans here. Hopefully they will be behind us and push us on through.”

The winner advances to a two-game, aggregate-score conference semifinal against top-seeded Portland. No. 2 Real Salt Lake and No. 3 Los Angeles will meet in the other Western semifinal series.

In the East, Houston and Montreal meet in the knockout game. The winner will face Supporters’ Shield winner New York in one semifinal, while the other pairs Sporting Kansas City and New England.

DEMPSEY SCORES

Dempsey recorded his first goal Sunday after 590 scoreless minutes as a Sounders player.

“You don’t want to have a goose egg for the season,” he said. “It is good to get on the score sheet, and hopefully they will start coming a little easier now.” I knew that it was just a matter of time; but more important are the goals that we will be scoring from here on out. Those will count the most because they are coming in the playoffs. We need those to get the results we want.”

ADDED TIME

Defender Leo Gonzalez, who was held out of the L.A. game with a hip injury, went through full training Monday. Forward Obafemi Martins (groin) went through a majority of the work, but seems doubtful. … Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning returned to the starting lineup Sunday after two games on the bench. Schmid did not name his starter for Wednesday, but he seemed pleased with Gspurning’s performance. … Tickets for the Sounders’ playoff game went on sale Monday. “Keep the faith,” Schmid said to Sounders fans. “(They’ve) got to come out again.” Ticket information is available at SoundersFC.com. … Wednesday’s game will be shown locally on Ch. 6/16, regionally on Root and nationally on NBCSN.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt

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