Sounders FC

Sounders improving, not winning

FRISCO, TEXAS – Through nine games, it has been a season of streaks for Seattle Sounders FC.

Their first three games brought three wins. The next three brought one win and two losses. The most recent three have all been draws, the latest 1-1 Saturday at FC Dallas.

Seattle’s 4-2-3 record and 15 points remain good for second place behind Chivas USA in the MLS Western Division. And even without a victory since April 25 or a loss since April 18, veteran forward Nate Jaqua said he sees progress.

“I think we are getting better every game,” he said Saturday from the Sounders’ locker room. “It’s just a little bit of a hiccup with the last two. But if we turn it around and we win this next week, I think we’re fine.”

That Saturday game will be something of a Western showdown as the Sounders travel to Commerce City, Colo., for a first meeting with the Rapids.

Colorado is 3-2-3 after a draw with New England, and its 12 points means it would pull even with a game in hand if it defeats the Sounders on Saturday.

Seattle should be closer to full strength by then. Defender James Riley is eligible to return from the red-card suspension that kept him off the pitch at Pizza Hut Park. And midfielder Freddie Ljungberg also is expected to return after he didn’t travel to Texas because he suffered from migraines Friday.

“Possession-wise I definitely think (Ljungberg) helps, us but we had enough people out there to definitely get the job done,” Jaqua said. “... But obviously it’s nice to have a player of that caliber on the field as well.”

Elsewhere, the Sounders’ options remain jumbled.

Defender Nathan Sturgis was kept out Saturday due to a persistent hamstring injury, and his status for the week ahead isn’t certain. The same is true of defender Zach Scott (abdomen) and midfielder Brad Evans (head and knee), who each needed a substitute Saturday.

Before the game, reserve goalkeeper Chris Eylander was placed on the injured reserve list with a medial bone bruise to his left knee. He will be eligible for the June 20 game at New York. In his absence, the Sounders activated Ben Dragavon from the MLS’ pool of emergency goalkeepers.

Coach Sigi Schmid adapted Saturday by giving two Sounders their first playing time this season. He moved Patrick Ianni into Riley’s place in the starting lineup, and sent Tyson Wahl in for Scott.

“I was excited to get the start and grateful to contribute to this organization and this team,” Ianni said. “I just thought we could have played better, sharper all around.”

The Sounders are off today and will resume training at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila on Tuesday.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808