Sounders FC

Earning points on the road, not winning, is Sounders' goal vs. Chivas

As Seattle Sounders FC began training for its Saturday showdown at Chivas USA, coach Sigi Schmid reminded everyone that catching the MLS Western Conference leader isn’t necessarily his team’s top priority.

“It’s all about us to make our way into the playoffs,” Schmid said of the game in Carson, Calif. “… One of the things you need to do in this league if you want to be a playoff team is you have to get points on the road. And if you want to win in the playoffs, you’re going to need to get a result on the road at some point, maybe two.

“From that standpoint, it’s just a good test for us to go down, play a good team, and come out with something on the road. That’s what we’re all about this weekend.”

After five consecutive MLS draws, the implication that another one might be a good thing probably doesn’t sound all that appealing to some fans.

However, veteran goalkeeper Kasey Keller said the steady accumulation of points is the secret to success.

“Picking up points doesn’t get old,” the North Thurston graduate said. “Losing gets old, that’s for sure. We haven’t done a whole lot of that. That’s cool. I think tying at home gets old. I don’t mind tying on the road. I don’t mind a good away draw, but it’s always nice not to go too long without getting home wins.”

The Sounders haven’t won an MLS match since April 25, nor lost since April 18. That previous loss came in their previous visit to Chivas, 2-0.

“Certainly, Chivas has done very well,” Schmid said. “They’ve gotten good results. I know they were disappointed losing their last game at home (3-2, against Chicago), especially the way that it happened with the last-minute penalty.

“But we have to go down there right now.”

Since that previous visit to Los Angeles, the Sounders have drifted further behind Chivas and also have been passed by Houston. Seattle ranks fourth in the points standings in a league where the top eight advance to the playoffs.

Despite the downward drift – or because of it – Schmid made a rare concession to his team Tuesday, reminding players how much they have accomplished for an expansion team.

On most days, Schmid and his players have stressed that they don’t consider themselves an expansion team.

However, Schmid altered course a bit this week, acknowledging their factual first-year status while refusing to accept any lowered expectations that come with the expansion label.

“We don’t want to ignore reality,” he said. “And we don’t want to think of ourselves as an expansion team, in the sense that we want to be in the hunt for the playoffs. I read somewhere that Chicago’s (1998 expansion) record through 11 games was 6-5, but that was also in the days of the shootout. So you really got to look and say what would their record have been if you take away the shootout wins or losses, and then you get a truer reflection of what their point total would have been, and then you can compare it to ours and we can see if we’re comparable.”

The 1998 Fire’s 6-5 start included two results settled by shootouts: one a win and one a loss. If those were draws, as they would be in today’s MLS, the Fire’s record would have been 5-4-2. And that would have been good for 17 points, the same as the current Sounders (4-2-5, 17).

Added time

Injured midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (quadriceps strain) trained on the sideline Monday, but neither he nor defender Zach Scott (abdominal strain) did any work with the team. … Conor Casey of Colorado, a former University of Portland star who scored four goals and recorded one assist in four league games during May, was selected MLS player of the month. One of those goals came in the Rapids’ 2-2 draw with the Sounders. … Seattle forward Nate Jaqua’s game-tying volley vs. Columbus is a nominee for MLS goal of the week. The winner will be announced today.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

blogs.thenewstribune.com/soccer

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