Almost everything is new this season for Seattle Sounders FC, including repetition.
When the Sounders visit league-leading Chivas USA tonight, it will mark the first time they have faced the same opponent more than once in league play.
Seattle lost the first meeting, 2-0, on April 18, which was the first loss in franchise history. But coach Sigi Schmid believes that earlier experience will work in his team’s favor tonight.
“They have a better idea of what they’re going to come up against,” he said. “(Sounders rookie midfielder Steve) Zakuani knows what (Chivas midfielder Mariano) Trujillo looks like now and how he plays a little bit. Freddie Ljungberg knows how (Paulo) Nagamura plays. He also knows what Trujillo looks like, what (Carey) Talley is like, etc. Those are all pluses.
“… When you play a team a second time, they have an idea already of what some of the tendencies are. It’s different when you just watch it on tape versus being on the field.”
Schmid said his team even benefits from familiarity with the stadium – in this case, Home Depot Center in the southern Los Angeles suburb of Carson, Calif., where Chivas averages 15,625 fans per game.
“I think when you’ve played someplace before, you just know, ‘OK, that’s where the locker room is, that’s where the stadium is, this is how it feels, this is how the crowd feels,’ ” he said. “It just makes it easier to prepare the second time around.”
Naturally, some things will have changed.
When the teams met for the first time, Chivas was one point ahead of Seattle for the best record in MLS. Since then, the Red and White has increased its lead to seven points, and Seattle has dropped to third in the Western Conference after five straight draws.
However, Chivas is winless over its past three games and will be without three key players tonight as defender Jonathan Bornstein and midfielder Sacha Kljestan are with the United States national team, and midfielder Jesse Marsch is serving a suspension for getting a red card.
One thing expected to remain constant is Chivas’ toughness, which the Sounders learned about the hard way in the earlier meeting. The Red and White leads MLS in fouls – a price they seem philosophically willing to pay in exchange for knocking opposing offenses out of threatening attacks.
“They’re a team that’s very good at killing plays early,” Schmid said. “What I mean by ‘killing plays early’ is, if you look like you’re about to break, then there happens to be a little nick or a little foul or a little obstruction and the play stops, and they get behind the ball.
That’s one reason that they’ve defended well. They’re very good at taking the foul at opportune moments.
“There’s no real answer to that except the referee maybe has to be a little more aware of what they’re doing tactically.”
Seattle also will be a different team on the defensive end.
Kasey Keller, the MLS’ leader in goals-against average, will start in goal after missing the previous trip to Chivas because of a red-card suspension.
However, Seattle will start for the first time without defender Tyrone Marshall, who picked up a red card in the closing minutes of the Sounders’ draw with Columbus last weekend.
His absence likely will lead to Patrick Ianni’s second start of the season.
“(Chivas is) a very good, possession-oriented team,” Ianni said. “They’ve been that way for at least the last few years now. They’ve got some pretty quick guys up top that are dangerous threats. And they’re a very good passing team. We need to be able to keep the ball as much as possible on that field.
“It’s a big field, so the team that keeps the ball makes the other team chase and tires them out. That’s what we have to do. But they’re a team that does a very good job of that themselves.”
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808
sounders fc gameday
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-2-5; 17 pts.) AT CHIVAS USA (7-2-3; 24 pts.)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m., Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.
TV: KONG-6/16. Radio: 97.3 FM (in Spanish on 1210 AM).
Head to head: Chivas won, 2-0, at home on April 18. Chivas visits Seattle on Sept. 19.
Statistical leaders: For Seattle, G 4 Fredy Montero; A 4 Nate Jaqua; Sh 30 Montero; SOG 8 Montero. For Chivas, G 4 Eduardo Lillingston/Paulo Nagamura; A 4 Gerson Mayen; Sh 22 Lillingston; SOG 10 Sacha Kljestan/Lillingston.
Coach Sigi Schmid scouting report: “(Maykel) Galindo is back up front, so that gives them some pace. … They’re very good at taking the foul at opportune moments. … They have a good understanding defensively that makes them tough to break down. And (goalkeeper) Zach Thornton is having a very good year.”
Notes: Chivas is the MLS points leader but is 0-1-2 over the last three games. Seattle has drawn five straight games. … Thornton leads MLS with six shutouts; Seattle’s Kasey Keller has the MLS’ best goals-against average (0.64). … Chivas leads the league in penalties, while Montero is the individual leader in penalties drawn. … Chivas is without Jonathan Bomstein and Sacha Kljestan because of their duties with the U.S. national team. Chivas’ Jesse Marsch and Seattle’s Tyrone Marshall are out due to suspensions. … Chivas is coached by former Tacoma Stars standout Preki. … Galindo played two seasons with the USL Sounders.
Next: 7:30 June 13, vs. San Jose, Qwest Field.
Don Ruiz, The News Tribune