Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid hopes his club learned something in the must-win pressure of U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday that could carry over to Major League Soccer play today.
“We showed a lot of character and a lot of resiliency, getting back to the idea and the understanding that we have to be a tough team to beat,” Schmid said. “I’ll be the first one to say it wasn’t our best soccer of the season, for sure. But right now, we needed to establish again that hard work with average soccer has a chance to win. Great soccer with not enough heart underneath it, you have a better chance to lose. ... We hope that carries into our game (today at New England), and that we understand the hard work has to continue.”
Over their past 10 games, Seattle has been a different club in Open Cup and Major League Soccer.
The Sounders will take the Gillette Stadium pitch today under the weight of a club-record seven-game MLS winless streak. Meanwhile, the club is 3-0 in Open Cup, with wins over the Atlanta Silverbacks, Cal FC and this week’s 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes.
There was no carryover last time Seattle returned to MLS play following Open Cup success. After winning their first two USOC games by a combined 10-1, the Sounders were mauled in Montreal, 4-1.
“(The San Jose) win is a lot different than the other two wins,” Schmid said. “The other ones came against an NASL team and an amateur team that was on a good run. This one came against a team that right now is number one in our league.”
Another lingering affect from Open Cup could be its toll on the Sounders’ roster. Today marks Seattle’s third game in seven days, while the Revolution’s last match came exactly a week ago.
Schmid mitigated the impact by using a reserve-heavy roster on Tuesday.
“The most important thing for us was to be fresh on the field and have guys that can compete,” he said. “Every game we’re going to try to put the lineup out that’s going to help us win the game and is going to make the most sense in terms of avoiding injuries, as well. So you have some of those guys you’re going to see as we move down the line. Some you might see more, some you might see less.”
Another difference could be atmosphere. After a passionate rivalry at Portland and the loser-out intensity against San Jose, the Sounders will play today in the league’s emptiest stadium. New England averages the second-lowest attendance in the league: 11,819. That tops only San Jose, whose home stadium has a capacity of 10,500.
Schmid said it helps that now only 20,000 seats are made available for MLS games in Gillette Stadium, which also is home to the NFL’s New England Patriots.
“The way they changed the configuration around is a lot more intimate than it was a few years ago,” he said. “I don’t know what kind of crowd they’re going to have this weekend; but it hasn’t been like it was two, three years ago.”
SOUNDERS FC (7-5-4; 25 POINTS) AT NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (5-7-3; 18)
4:30 p.m., Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
TV: Ch. 6/16. RADIO: 97.3-FM, 99.3-FM (Spanish).
CLUB LEADERS: For Seattle – G 5, David Estrada and Eddie Johnson; A 4 Fredy Montero; S 70, Montero; SOG 26, Montero; GAA 1.50, Andrew Weber. For New England – G 7, Saer Sene; A 3, Shalrie Joseph and Chris Tierney; S 36, Sene; SOG 21, Sene; GAA 1.33, Matt Reis.
HEAD TO HEAD: The series is even, 3-3. The Revs lead 2-1 at home. This is the only scheduled meeting this season.
NOTES: The Sounders will look to break a club-record seven-game MLS winless streak (0-4-3). The Revs are 2-2-3 over the same period. ... Seattle has followed its 10-game road unbeaten streak with back-to-back road losses. New England is 4-1-2 at home, including a five-game unbeaten streak. ... New England averages 11,819 per home game, second-to-last (San Jose) in MLS. ... This is Seattle’s third game of the week, following a league loss at Portland on Sunday and an Open Cup win at San Jose on Tuesday. The Revs’ last game was a 2-2 draw at Toronto one week ago. ... This marks the midpoint of the Sounders’ 34-game regular season. ... New England leads MLS with 93 shots on goal. ... Joseph (adductor muscle) is listed as probable for New England. He has three career goals against the Sounders, including two game-winners. Leo Gonzalez, Adam Johnasson, Steve Zakuani and Jeff Parke all are listed as questionable for Seattle. ... Montero is out after receiving a red card Sunday in Portland. Osvaldo Alonso and Eddie Johnson are one caution away from yellow-card suspension. ... The referee is Edvin Jurisevic.
QUOTABLE: “(Sene) has done well for them. He’s a big, strong target. They have a very flexible midfield in terms of Lee Nguyen and Benny Feilhaber and Shalrie and Clyde Simms. Kelyn Rowe, when he’s healthy, mixes in there. They seem to interchange an awful lot. ... They’ve had a pretty consistent back four.” – Seattle coach Sigi Schmid on New England.
NEXT: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sounders at Real Salt Lake.