The Seattle Sounders woke up this morning in the Major League Soccer basement, and that’s where they’ll remain when they go to sleep tonight – regardless of their result today against the New England Revolution.
That doesn’t mean the game has no meaning for Seattle. Far from it.
The Sounders’ 0-3-1 start leaves them as the only winless straggler among the 19 MLS teams. They’d like to change that.
Their slow beginning also gives them plenty of points to make up in the long playoff race that will reach into October. They’d like to get started.
“Pressure builds a little bit when you don’t get that win,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “At the end of the day, the only thing that’s there is the standings. And as I said before, we can’t panic.”
It will be a while before Seattle gets so appealing a chance. The Revolution comes in at 1-2-1 and in last place in the Eastern Conference. But after this, the Sounders head out on a three-game trip and won’t play in front of their home fans again until the middle of May.
“You should always win your homes games,” said Seattle midfielder Shalrie Joseph, who played almost a decade with the Revolution. “Our away games, we’re going to worry about that when they come.”
Until then, the Sounders are reminding themselves that it’s still early: four regular season games are behind, 30 more ahead.
The Sounders’ worst start to a season before this came in 2011, when they were 0-2-2 after four games. That team went on to set club records with 18 wins and 61 points in the league standings.
Another turnaround like that could depend on the club’s ability to get healthy.
Both starting forwards – Eddie Johnson (hamstring) and Obafemi Martins (knee tendon) – were restricted in training this week. Martins already has been ruled out for today. Also out is reserve forward David Estrada (eye) and central defender Patrick Ianni (knee). Midfielder Brad Evans (calf) is questionable.
Patchwork lineups have been the rule since opening day for the Sounders. And Schmid made the point that the team needs a victory far more than it needs excuses.
“The main point for us is to win ... to get our confidence back,” he said. “(The players) don’t like that they’re winless. They feel like they’re a better team than that, and we have to show that on the field.”
General manager Adrian Hanauer said it’s unlikely the club will schedule an international friendly this summer. It would mark the first season where the Sounders did not bring in an international opponent. ... Ianni, who hasn’t played this season due to a foot injury, is expected to play 45 minutes in the reserve game at Los Angeles on Monday and could return to the first team soon thereafter.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (1-2-1) AT SOUNDERS FC (0-3-1)
1 p.m., CenturyLink Field
TV: KONG 6/16, RADIO: 97.3-FM
HEAD TO HEAD: The series is 3-3-1. The Sounders are 2-1 in Seattle.
NOTES: The Sounders are MLS’ only winless team. New England is last in the Eastern Conference. ... Over four games, New England has allowed two goals and scored one. Both surrendered goals resulted in losses, and each came in the final 15 minutes. The Revs have gone 298 minutes without scoring a goal. ... New England is 1-1 on the road this season after going 2-13-2 away from home in 2012. ... Sounders midfielder Shalrie Joseph played with the Revs from 2003-2012. ... The Seattle injury list shows Obafemi Martins (leg tendon) and David Estrada (eye) out, and Eddie Johnson (hamstring) and Brad Evans (calf) questionable. ... New England defender Kevin Alston announced this week that he is taking a leave of absence from the club after being diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. Treatment is not expected to require hospitalization, and he plans to return to the team. ... The referee is Chris Penso.
QUOTABLE: “They’re off to a little bit of a slow start, and I’m sure they’d like to be doing better. They’ve got quality players, and they’ve got attacking options there with (Jerry) Bengston and Lee Nguyen and a few of the other guys – Kelyn Rowe, etc.” – Seattle coach Sigi Schmid on the Revs.
NEXT: The Sounders visit the Colorado Rapids at 3 p.m. April 20. That will be the first of three straight road matches for Seattle.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org/soccer