Two games ago, Sounders FC won the Cascadia Cup.
Last game, the Sounders punched their ticket through to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
Next week, they’ll try to defend their U.S. Open Cup championship.
And then there’s the match today at New England, which seems to put relatively little at stake except extending the Sounders’ solid September into October, when the MLS regular season, the Open Cup and the group stage of CONCACAF Champions League all reach their conclusions.
“What’s most important for me is that we stay in a good rhythm and we continue to play games,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said.
“The Open Cup is a very important game to us … and being able to win it three times in a row is something that’s pretty … special. We will certainly have that in our focus, but also maintaining second place, keeping the pressure on L.A. in terms of the Supporters’ Shield.”
In both of those latter matters, the Sounders will have one other scoreboard to watch in addition to their own at Gillette Stadium, because Real Salt Lake – the team directly behind Seattle in the MLS standings – tonight visits Los Angeles – the only team ahead of Seattle.
A win by the Galaxy and anything less than a win by the Sounders would eliminate Seattle from the Supporters’ Shield race. However, that scenario also would keep RSL behind Seattle in the race for second place in the West.
Meanwhile, a win by the Sounders combined with anything less than a win by FC Dallas at Colorado would assure Seattle of a spot among the top three teams in the Western Conference.
That means the Sounders will bypass the opening round of wild-card games. Because that scenario also could keep the Sounders in the more difficult Western Conference bracket, Schmid seemed uncertain if the current MLS playoff formula makes that a prize worth celebrating.
“You tell me: Is it a good thing to be out of the wild-card consideration?” he said. “… (That) is one of the flaws of our seeding system.”
Amid such complicated formulas leading to such dubious prizes, Schmid’s goal is simply to keep his club on the path that saw it go 2-1 in MLS and 3-2-1 in all competitions during September.
Another consideration is trying to buy rest for some key players at the end of a three-game 9,000-mile trip, which after tonight yields to four straight home games over three competitions.
“The team feels good physically; the team feels good emotionally,” Schmid said. “… You always like to give up a few less goals. I think that’s something you’re always trying to achieve, especially as you get into the playoffs and the games seem to get a little bit tighter and the players become more attentive to defensive marking and details, and maybe physical play picks up a notch. But we want to continue what we’re doing right now.”
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer
SOUNDERS FC (15-6-9, 54 POINTS) AT NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (5-13-12, 27 POINTS)
KICKOFF: 4:30 p.m.; Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
TV: KONG 6/16. RADIO: 97.3 FM.
CLUB LEADERS: For Seattle – goals, 9, Fredy Montero; assists, 12, Mauro Rosales; shots, 95, Montero; shots on goal, 37, Montero; goals-against average, 1.07, Kasey Keller. For New England – goals, 8, Shalrie Joseph; assists, 4, Benny Feilhaber and Chris Tierney; shots, 47, Joseph; shots on goal, 22, Joseph; goals-against average, 1.58, Matt Reis.
HEAD TO HEAD: New England leads, 3-2, including 2-0 at home. The Sounders won the June 26 meeting in Seattle, 2-1.
NOTES: A Seattle win or draw will knock the Revolution out of playoff contention. … New England is 1-4-5 over its past 10 games. Seattle is 5-1-1 over its past seven MLS matches. … The Revs are 4-4-6 at home. The Sounders are 7-3-5 on the road, but 1-2-2 in the Eastern time zone. … The Revs are among the bottom four MLS teams in goals, shots and shots on goal. … Joseph has scored three career goals against Seattle, tied for the most by any player. … Seattle forward Mike Fucito is a native of Westford, Mass., about 50 miles from Foxborough. James Riley and Pat Noonan – both questionable for this match – previously played for the Revs. … Rosales (knee) is doubtful. … The match will be played with a pink ball as part of breast cancer awareness month. … New England has nine red cards this season, a club record. The MLS record is 11. … Montero, Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado are one caution away from yellow-card suspension.
QUOTABLE: “We sort of evaluate which players are recovered well, which players are ready to go, who needs some minutes, who doesn’t need some minutes. It’s not going to be the same team that played against Comunicaciones, but it’s not going to be a team of trying to rest everybody, either.” – Sounders coach Sigi Schmid on his lineup plans.
NEXT: The Sounders will meet the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup final at 7 p.m. Tuesday at CenturyLink Field. The club returns to MLS regular-season play Oct. 8 when Philadelphia visits.
Don Ruiz, staff writer