If ever there was an ideal occasion for the Seattle Sounders FC to summon a breakout performance, surely it must be this Saturday, when the front running Los Angeles Galaxy arrives on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field. First kick is 1 p.m. PT.
Sounders FC (2-2-3, 9 points) is showing signs of shifting into high gear, but has collected just two points in the last three outings, including a 1-1 home draw with Columbus last week. Seven points behind the unbeaten Galaxy (5-0-1, 16 points) after seven matches, Seattle faces an opponent which leads Major League Soccer in both scoring and defense.
Despite clear advantages in possession and scoring opportunities the past two games, Sounders FC seeks its first win since April 17 and also its first victory over a Western Conference foe.
Los Angeles is returning to the site of MLS Cup 2009, where it fell to Real Salt Lake on penalties on November 22. Although David Beckham is out and could possibly miss the entire season, the Galaxy is off to its best start since 1998. Edson Buddle leads MLS in goals (9) and Landon Donovan has four assists.
Sounders FC won the inaugural season series with L.A. by beating the Galaxy on the road, 2-0. The two clubs had drawn, 1-1, during the initial meeting in Seattle.
KONG 6/16 and News Talk 97.3 KIRO FM will broadcast Saturday’s match with Arlo White calling the play. In Spanish the match can be seen nationally on TeleFutura and heard on 1210 AM Ke Buena with Rene Aleman, Noe Menendez and Victor Hernandez.
A demanding set of May fixtures continues on May 15 when Seattle visits the Eastern Conference leading New York Red Bulls. First kick at Red Bull Arena is 4:30 p.m. PT.
Upcoming Competition Schedule (All times Pacific)
Saturday, May 8, 1 p.m. – L.A. Galaxy, Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, Seattle
Saturday, May 15, 4:30 p.m. – New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ
Saturday, May 22, 12 p.m. – San Jose Earthquakes, Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, Seattle
Wednesday, May 26, TBD – Boca Juniors, Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, Seattle
Saturday, May 29, 6 p.m. – at Colorado Rapids, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colo.
Beautiful Game in Process
So far, it only has a single point to show for it. But Sounders FC seems on the verge of parlaying an increasingly attractive attacking play into victories. Seattle players and staff have been pleased with the passing and movement in the last two outings, at Toronto FC and at home to Columbus. In those two matches, Sounders FC has launched 27 shots (seven on goal) and earned 16 corner kicks.
Strangely, the quantity of shots has not necessarily produced a higher rate of goals. In the four matches in which Seattle has been credited 10 or more shots it has averaged 0.75 goals and been held scoreless twice. The record in those games (PHI, NY, TOR, CLB) is 1-2-1 with the opposition scoring four times. Conversely, in Matches 3-5, while averaging 4.7 shots, Sounders FC scored 1.7 goals and was 1-0-2.
Top Scorer Test
Seattle’s defense, which shared the MLS top mark in 2009 with only 29 goals allowed in 30 matches, seeks to regain that form but faces a big challenge in the Galaxy. Edson Buddle’s nine goals top the league, although Landon Donovan, the L.A. top scorer with 12 goals last year and 64 in five seasons, has yet to score. Sounders FC has allowed five goals in the last three outings.
Zakuani Hits Home, Hits Early
It was both a long wait and a short one. Steve Zakuani scored the fastest goal in the club’s brief existence against Columbus last week, staking Sounders FC to a 1-nil lead in the 4th minute. It bettered the old mark set by Zakuani during his rookie season when he scored in the 5th minute at D.C. United. Zakuani’s goal against the Crew was only his second at home; his first had come more than a year before, on April 25, 2009. He now leads the team with three goals, two coming in the last three games.
Stuff Happens in Stoppage
The defense has appeared in command for long stretches, yet has proven susceptible to untimely strikes. Stoppage time goals by Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas (both in the second half) and Columbus have resulted in draws rather than wins for Seattle. In its inaugural season Sounders FC did not allow a single goal in second half stoppage time.
Sigi’s Present Beats Past
So far, so good for Sigi Schmid in his meetings with his past clubs. With Seattle, Schmid is unbeaten (2-0-3) in five meetings with Columbus and Los Angeles, the sides he guided to MLS Cup championships in 2002 and 2008, respectively. The two wins each came on the road. Schmid was 79-53-32 in five-plus seasons in L.A. and 34-33-25 in three years with the Crew. He is the MLS all-time leader with 127 victories.
Sounders FC is in the midst of a stretch in which it plays five of seven at home. It is 9-3-7 in regular season home matches and only once has allowed more than one goal. Seattle has allowed only five goals in its last 12 at home, including playoffs.
A Month to be Tied?
Six matches but still no winner. May continues to be a month in which Sounders FC is fit to be tied. All six regular season fixtures played by Seattle in May have finished in draws. In 2009, Sounders FC finished level with Chicago (1-1), L.A. (1-1), FC Dallas (1-1), Colorado (2-2) and Columbus (1-1). Last week the Crew extended the trend into 2010 with a 1-1 tie.
Montero Gets Goal of the Week
Fredy Montero’s 40-yard free kick at FC Dallas won MLS Goal of the Week honors with a 43 percent online fan vote. It was Montero’s third career goal of the week. Another long-range blast, a 30-yard masterpiece from the run of play at New England, was a finalist for 2009 goal of the year. Montero earned his third assist of the season last week and now leads the team with three. He also has two goals.
Nkufo Helps Twente Claim Crown
Blaise Nkufo completed his seven-year run with FC Twente on a spectacularly high note last Sunday. Nkufo, the club captain, lifted Dutch Eredivisie trophy for the first time in Twente’s history following a 2-0 road win at NAC Breda. Not since 1926 had the city of Enschede won a domestic title. Twente finished with 27 wins and only two losses (five draws) in 34 matches. Nkufo is Twente’s all-time scoring leader with 114 goals in the Eredivisie, including 12 this season. He signed with the Sounders FC on March 4, and will join the team in July following the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Changes in the XI
Sigi Schmid reconfigured his tactics and lineup last week, opting for a 4-3-3 for the first time and making four changes from the XI that marched out in Toronto. Seattle has yet to field the same starting lineup in consecutive games this season. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Leo Gonzalez returned to the back four against Columbus. Steve Zakuani and Fredy Montero started at left and center forward.
Drew Carey Invites Sounders FC Fans to Help Prevent Malaria in Africa
Seattle Sounders FC announced the launch of a six-week fundraising campaign to help raise money and awareness for the United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign-a global, grassroots initiative to save lives by preventing malaria, a leading killer of children in Africa. Sounders FC owner Drew Carey and midfielder Sanna Nyassi will serve as honorary co-chairs of the fundraising initiative that will begin on May 1 and run through June 10.
Long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed nets are one of the most effective methods of preventing the spread of malaria. A $10 donation allows Nothing But Nets to purchase a net, deliver it to a family, and educate on its use. Fans who donate $30 or more will receive a limited edition Drew Carey bobblehead.
The team became more familiar with the impact of malaria last spring when Nyassi, a native of Gambia, shared his own story about contracting the disease at age 16. Nyassi was fortunate to survive.
Carey hopes Nyassi’s story along with additional League-wide efforts to support Nothing But Nets leading up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa will raise more awareness and commitments to keep up the fight against malaria.
For more information visit www.soundersfc.com.
Nothing But Nets is a global, grassroots campaign to save lives by preventing malaria, a leading killer of children in Africa. Inspired by sports columnist Rick Reilly, hundreds of thousands of people have joined the campaign that was created by the United Nations Foundation in 2006. It costs just $10 to provide a long-lasting insecticide-treated bed net to prevent this deadly disease. Visit www.NothingButNets.net to send a net and save a life. To date, Nothing But Nets has raised more than $30 million and distributed over 3 million nets to protect children and families in Africa. One bed net can protect a family of four for up to five years.
Sounders FC Announce Two International Friendlies
Sounders FC announced last week it will host Argentina’s Boca Juniors on May 26 and Scotland’s Celtic on July 18 on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field.
The two friendlies are part of the 18-match season-ticket holder package. A third match will be announced soon. Tickets are now on sale for Boca Juniors. Tickets will go on sale for Celtic on Tuesday, June 1 at 10 a.m. Tickets will be available at www.soundersfc.com, all Ticketmaster outlets, the Qwest Field Box Office, or by calling 800-745-3000.
Boca Juniors is Argentina’s most popular club, as well as the most successful on the international front, with three world club championships and six Copa Libertadores (South America titles). Boca, founded in 1905 and named for the Buenos Aires neighborhood of La Boca, wears a distinctive all blue strip with a yellow panel across the chest. Among its famous players is Diego Maradona, the co-player of the 20th century who retired there in 1997.
Celtic is making its fourth trip to Seattle and its third to Qwest Field. Winners of a record 34 Scottish cups and 42 league championships, the “Bhoys” from Glasgow boast a huge worldwide fan base. They are instantly recognizable for their green-and-white hooped jerseys. Celtic was the first British club to win a European championship in 1967. It met the NASL Sounders in 1981, and returned to face Manchester United in 2003 and Chelsea in 2004.
Montano Signing Completed
Sounders FC has completed the signing of Colombian forward Miguel Montano. Per Major League Soccer and club policy, terms were not disclosed.
With the receipt of his P-1 work permit and International Clearance, Montano was added to the official roster and was one of the seven substitutes available for the Columbus match. He has been training with Sounders FC since March 17.
Montano, 18, most recently played for Quilmes Atletico Club in the Quintata, the fifth tier of the Argentine development structure. He scored 13 goals in 19 games last season. In 2008, Montano scored 18 goals in 24 games for the reserve team of Colombia’s Envigado FC.
Montano has made one international appearance for the Colombia Under-20 National Team.
King Traded to D.C.
Sounders FC announced that midfielder Stephen King has been traded to D.C. United in exchange for a second round pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft.
Now in his third MLS season and second with Sounders FC, King made 10 appearances, including three starts, in 2009. He also started five U.S. Open Cup matches, scoring three goals-two game-winners-and adding one assist. King has not appeared in a match this season.
King, 24, made eight starts and a total of 20 appearances for the Chicago Fire as a rookie in 2008. He was chosen by Seattle in the 2008 expansion draft.
Eventually Seattle should find itself flush with forwards, but for now the ranks are definitely thin. Nate Jaqua, the team’s No. 2 scorer with nine goals and seven assists in 2009, has missed the first six matches while recovering from lower abdominal surgery. Pat Noonan strained a hamstring at FC Dallas and Michael Fucito, who scored against Kansas City, has a knee injury and was also unavailable. Brad Evans, usually a midfielder, has been pressed into forward duty the past two games.
Among the Leaders
Fredy Montero and Freddie Ljungberg are 1-2 among MLS leaders in fouls suffered (16 and 15, respectively). Kasey Keller is tied for fourth in MLS goalkeeping shutouts with two. Montero is tied for third in assists with three.
Galaxy Series Recap
Sounders FC 1, L.A. Galaxy 1 – May 10, 2009 – Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field (Match 8)
Sebastien Le Toux scored his first MLS goal to help the Sounders FC hold on for a point despite playing final 30 minutes down a man. The opening goal came in the 22nd minute and was set-up by midfielder Steve Zakuani, who chipped over the L.A. defense to Nate Jaqua. Beating Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts to the ball, Jaqua tapped it left to Le Toux to stroke into an open net from 15 yards. The Galaxy’s equalizer in the 35th minute came following a turnover by Seattle in its own end. Mike Magee quickly crossed to Alan Gordon, who headed past Kasey Keller from 8 yards. Keller’s spotless record at home ended after 334 minutes with the first-half goal by L.A.’s Alan Gordon. It marked the first goal allowed by Keller in Seattle. He had not allowed a goal in 604 minutes of his games played for the U.S. National Team and Sounders FC. Defender James Riley was sent off the field with a red card in the 57th minute after being judged to have struck Gregg Berhalter. Moments earlier he had drawn a yellow card. Riley became the third Seattle player in five games to be shown a red card. Despite playing a man down for the last 30 minutes of the match Seattle out-shot the visitors 7-6.
Sounders FC 2, L.A. Galaxy 0 – August 15, 2009 – Home Depot Center (Match 21)
Seattle broke a 336-minute scoreless drought to end a three-game winless skein and post its first road win in nine matches. Sounders FC got its first break in the 16th minute. Galaxy midfielder David Beckham was shown a red card after a studs up midfield tackle on former teammate Peter Vagenas. Sounders FC played much of the match up one man. Steve Zakuani scored in the 22nd minute, the team’s first goal since July 11. Brad Evans beat Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter and crossed the ball to the far post where Zakuani knocked it past goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts for his third goal of the season. Seattle scored its second goal in the 54th minute after a corner kick by Peter Vagenas was headed by Nate Jaqua and volleyed in by forward Fredy Montero for his 10th goal. Each team lost a man in the final minutes. Tyrone Marshall was ejected on a second yellow and the Galaxy’s Eddie Lewis was sent off for a rough tackle on James Riley three minutes later. Seattle played the match without two of its MLS All-Stars. Midfielder Freddie Ljungberg sat out because of illness while defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado missed the match due to yellow card suspension. Seattle wore its blue kit for the first time at Los Angeles. In its first 10 road matches the squad dressed in rave green shirts and shorts.
Sounders FC 1, Columbus Crew 1 – May 1, 2010 – Recap
Steve Zakuani’s record fastest goal helped earn a draw for Sounders FC against the Columbus Crew on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field before 36,219.
Sounders FC dropped to fourth in the Western Conference while Columbus remained one of two remaining unbeaten clubs in MLS.
Zakuani struck in the 4th minute. Peter Vagenas played a ball to Fredy Montero who, despite being knocked to the ground by a defender, managed to find Freddie Ljungberg near the middle of the field. Ljungberg instantly lofted the ball over the defense for Zakuani to run onto and beat Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer from 10 yards.
It was Zakuani’s third goal of the season. He had held the club’s previous record for earliest goal, having scored in the 5th minute at D.C. United on September 12, 2009. Montero recorded his third assist and Ljungberg his second of the season.
Columbus equalized in first half stoppage time. In the 46th minute, Danny O’Rourke’s cross found Steven Lenhart who headed the ball from short range past Kasey Keller.
Seattle attempted to answer with several scoring opportunities in the second half. A 25-yard drive by Montero in the 52nd minute deflected off defender Andy Iro before hitting the right post.Leo Gonzalez played a ball over the top of Ljungberg in the 67th minute but his shot also struck the right post. Montero had a goal nullified in second half stoppage time for a foul on Sanna Nyassi.
Seattle had a 16-7 advantage in shots (3-3 on goal) and 9-4 on corner kicks.
Keller made a pair of saves in the game, including a stop of Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s shot from 16 yards in the 73rd minute.
Three Crew players were issued yellow cards. O’Rourke received his second yellow card in the 85th minute, forcing Columbus to finish the match with 10 men.
Sounders FC Top Attendances
The top 10 attendances are as follows: 66,848 August 5, 2009 Seattle v Barcelona (friendly) 65,289 July 18, 2009 Seattle v Chelsea (friendly) 36,241 March 25, 2010 Seattle v Philadelphia 36,219 May 1, 2010 Seattle v Columbus 36,066 April 3, 2010 Seattle v New York 35,924 April 17, 2010 Seattle v Kansas City 35,807 October 29, 2009 Seattle v Houston (MLS playoffs) 33,108 October 24, 2009 Seattle v FC Dallas 32,776 August 20, 2009 Seattle v New England 32,740 September 19, 2009 Seattle v Chivas USA *46,011 November 22, 2009 MLS Cup (Real Salt Lake v L.A.)
After 19 years at UCLA (1980-98), current Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid began his MLS coaching career with Los Angeles in 1999, serving as head coach for six seasons (1999-2004). Schmid’s L.A. Galaxy teams won four major competitions: 2002 MLS Cup, 2002 MLS Supporters’ Shield, 2001 U.S. Open Cup and the 2001 CONCACAF Champions Cup. He was voted the MLS Coach of the Year in his first season, 1999. Altogether, his Galaxy teams were 79-53-32 and reached the MLS Cup final four times and won three division crowns.
SFC and the 2002 Galaxy MLS Cup Champions
Sounders FC has three former players from Sigi Schmid’s 2002 MLS Cup champion Galaxy team: assistant coach Ezra Hendrickson played for the Galaxy for seven seasons (1997-2003); defender Tyrone Marshall played six seasons for the Galaxy (2002-07); and midfielder Peter Vagenas spent his first nine MLS seasons with the Galaxy (2000-08).
Arena’s Roots in Puget Sound
The Galaxy’s Bruce Arena is returning to the region where his head coaching career began. Arena served as coach for the University of Puget Sound in 1976. He had originally come west to play for the Tacoma Tides of the American Soccer League earlier that year. Arena’s next collegiate appointment was at Virginia in 1978. Over the course of 18 seasons he led the Cavaliers to 295 wins and five NCAA championships. As U.S. Men’s National Team coach he has returned to Seattle to coach four games between 2002-05.
Where It All Began
It was against the Galaxy when the Sounders FC first donned their rave green kit back on Feb. 9, 2009. In its preseason debut, Seattle got second-half goals from Roger Levesque and Sanna Nyassi to win, 3-1. Fredy Montero pulled Sounders FC level at 1-1 in the 17th minute on a penalty kick after Steve Zakuani was taken down in the box. Both teams changed their entire lineups at the break. Levesque broke the deadlock in the 80th minute and Nyassi added insurance in extra time. Eddie Lewis had staked the Galaxy to a lead in the opening three minutes.
Los Angeles is one of two unbeaten team in MLS, and has five wins in its first six games. Galaxy leads MLS in fewest goals allowed (2) and goal differential (+8). Edson Buddle leads the league in scoring (9), game-winning goals (5), shots (26) and shots on goal (12). Buddle has four multi-game goals. Keeper Donovan Rickets is the leader in shutouts (4) and tied for wins (5).
The following players are currently training with Sounders FC: Goalkeepers (4): Terry Boss, Derby Carillo*, Chris Eylander*, Kasey Keller; Defenders (9): Taylor Graham, Leo Gonzalez, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Tyrone Marshall, James Riley, Zach Scott, Tyson Wahl, Jamel Wallace#; Midfielders (9): Osvaldo Alonso, Raphael Cox*, David Estrada, Brad Evans, Stephen King, Freddie Ljungberg, Sanna Nyassi, Nathan Sturgis, Peter Vagenas; Forwards (7): Michael Fucito, Nate Jaqua, Roger Levesque, Miguel Montaño, Fredy Montero, Pat Noonan, Steve Zakuani.
#SuperDraft selection, *invitee
The May 22 home match with San Jose will now be carried by Fox Soccer Channel as well as KONG 6/16…Sounders FC wore its blue kit for the first time at home against Columbus. It had worn blue jerseys four times on the road in 2009, going 2-1-1…Mexico’s Pachuca won its third CONCACAF Champions League in four years last week. Sounders FC has qualified for the 2010-11 CCL play-in by virtue of winning the 2009 U.S. Open Cup… Tyrone Marshall, who had played every minute of the first six matches, did not see action against the Crew…Peter Vagenas marked his 200th league appearance in starting the Columbus game. It was his third start in the last four games. Vagenas played the full 90 in each start…Osvaldo Alonso is the only player to have played all 630 minutes this season….The reserves will play a training game against the PDL Yakima Reds on Sunday morning.