With an opportunity to bring its record level going into the World Cup break, Seattle Sounders FC hosts D.C. United on Thursday night before the 24th consecutive sellout crowd and a national television audience. It will serve as the planet’s final fixture prior to the curtain going up on the FIFA quadrennial extravaganza in South Africa on Friday. ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes will air the match, which is set for 7 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field.
Sounders FC, coming off its most impressive performance so far, is bidding to win two in a row for the first time in 2010. Seattle (4-5-3, 15 points) is 4-2-1 against teams in the MLS Eastern Conference. A win would vault it from a tie for sixth in the West to fourth.
Matching its record margin for a victory and breaking a standard for shots, Sounders FC scored three first-half goals in downing New England, 3-0, at home last week. It was the first win in three games and the first at home since April 17.
D.C. United (2-8-1, 7 points) resides in the East basement and is tied with Philadelphia for the lowest point total. After starting 0-5-0 under new coach Curt Onalfo, United has begun to settle in and has collected four points from its last two outings. D.C. drew 0-0 with MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake at home last week.
In 2009, Sounders FC was unbeaten (2-0-1) in three meetings with D.C. United, with both wins coming on the road at RFK Stadium. The two sides finished 3-3 after a late two-goal comeback by United in Seattle. Sounders FC won the second meeting, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final, 2-1, and won again by an identical score in MLS play 10 days later.
Seattle set an MLS season attendance record in 2009 and is on pace to smash that mark. Last week’s crowd of 36,344 joyful supporters was the largest yet for a home MLS date. After this week, the next scheduled home fixture is July 11 versus FC Dallas.
For tickets to Sounders FC home matches, call 1-877-MLS-GOAL or visit www.SoundersFC.com.
Glenn Davis and Kyle Martino will call Thursday’s match on ESPN2. Locally the match can be heard on ESPN Deportes Radio and, in English, on News Talk 97.3 KIRO FM with Thom Beuning calling the action and Peter Fewing providing analysis.
The Seattle-D.C. United match’s final whistle will signal the start of two-week break for MLS. Sounders FC will return to action on June 27 at Philadelphia Union in another ESPN2 telecast. The first match at Union’s new PPL Park in Chester, Penn., begins at 2 p.m. PT.
Upcoming Competition Schedule (All times Pacific)
Thursday, June 10, 7 p.m. – D.C. United, Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, Seattle
Sunday, June 27, 2 p.m. – at Philadelphia Union, PPL Park, Chester, Penn.
Sunday, July 4, 8 p.m. – at L.A. Galaxy, Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.
Sunday, July 11, 7:30 p.m. – FC Dallas, Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, Seattle
Thursday, June 15, 5 p.m. – at D.C. United, RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.
A Goal Rush
Admittedly playing like there was no tomorrow, Sounders FC ran rampant in its convincing beating of New England. Seattle played at a feverish pace from the first kick and wasted little time in taking the lead. In the 5th minute, Leo Gonzalez got forward from his left back position to deliver the first blow, a 15-yard blast with a wicked spin steering it inside the far post. Steve Zakuani and Fredy Montero also scored before the interval as Sounders FC scored three times in a half for the first time. The margin equaled that of 3-0 home wins over New York and Colorado in 2009. It was the fifth three-goal game for the attack and the first since October 17, 2009 and a 3-2 road win at Kansas City. Sixteen of the 17 multi-goal games in the franchise’s existence have featured either a goal by Montero and/or Zakuani. Seattle is 13-0-4 when scoring multiple goals.
Sounders FC fans should be advised to arrive early for home matches. Six of the seven goals scored at home have come in the first half of play, including three in the first 12 minutes. That excludes the 3-0 win over Argentina’s Boca Juniors in a friendly. In the first six home dates Seattle had managed to score just four goals, and Leo Gonzalez’ early strike ended a 270-minute scoreless stretch dating to May 1 and Steve Zakuani’s 4th-minute marker in the 1-1 draw with Columbus.
Finally, all the pressure brought forth by the attack resulted in an outpouring of goals. In the 4-4-2, Freddie Ljungberg was able to exploit greater space down the right and Steve Zakuani stretched the Revs wide left, giving Fredy Montero and Pat Noonan room up top. Sounders FC ranks 2nd in MLS for shots attempted (140) and first in corner kicks (79). The offense generated 19 shots and 10 corners versus New England. It is averaging 13.7 shots and 8.4 corners per home match in 2010. In the last three outings, including the Boca Juniors friendly, there have been totals of 61 shots and 29 corners. The eight shots on goal were the most since winning at Kansas City in Match 29 last season.
Fast Pace for Zakuani
A finalist for Rookie of the Year in 2009, Steve Zakuani is only getting stronger as a sophomore, and his volley into the upper right corner of the New England net served as an exclamation point. The 22-year-old left winger has already matched his goal total (4) from last year. Zakuani, who flourished on the road last season, has two goals and two assists at home in 2010, including a record fastest 4th-minute tally versus Columbus on May 1. Sounders FC is 5-0-3 when he scores.
A big contributor offensively during his five seasons in New England, Pat Noonan got his first assist for Seattle against the Revs, one-touching a Gonzalez ball along to Montero at the top of the box. Noonan narrowly missed a goal, splitting two defenders before hitting the left post in the 32nd minute. It was the 33rd assist of his career.
And More Numbers
A team record was tied with five assists, and the totals for shots on goal (8) matched the second-best sum. Seattle put 10 on frame versus D.C. United in last year’s 3-3 draw. Seattle fired a team record 19 shots last week, topping the previous record of 18, achieved four times, most recently against San Jose on May 22.
Gonzalez Going Forward
As a left back on an attack-minded side, Leo Gonzalez gets forward for his fair share of action in the offensive final third. But it wasn’t until the New England match that Gonzalez earned his first offensive MLS points. In addition to his spectacular goal, he also ventured up the channel to start the sequence on Fredy Montero’s score. Prior to his arrival in Seattle, Gonzalez had scored three times in nine years of play in his native Costa Rica. He was not credited with a single shot in 2009 but has four thus far in 2010.
The men in black from the nation’s capital will find Fredy Montero playing in fine form. Montero shone brightly in the night against the Revs. Scorer of a remarkable long-range howitzer at Foxborough last season, he demonstrated a deft touch and calmness in scoring the third for Sounders FC last week. He also assisted on the second goal with a quick throw into the box. Nine of Montero’s 16 career goals have been scored at home and he has scored in each of the three previous meetings with D.C. United. Montero leads the team in offensive points with four goals and four assists. Seattle is 11-1-6 when Montero scores a goal or contributes an assist.
Brad’s a Game-Winner
The common thread through the goals scored in each of the four wins this season is Brad Evans. He scored one (versus Philadelphia) and assisted on two others (Kansas City and at New York). Back in his accustomed role in central midfield, Evans helped energize the Sounders FC with his activity and distribution. Evans fired three shots, tying a career high with each on goal. He also assisted on the Steve Zakuani strike by flicking the ball into some space around the penalty spot. With three assists this season, Evans established a new career high. Of his four goals and five assists with Seattle, all but two assists have come at home.
Seamon Signs On
Sounders FC signed midfielder Michael Seamon, the club’s second-round selection in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, on June 2. Seamon, 21, was selected by Seattle with the 27th pick overall in the 2010 draft.
After initially training with Sounders FC in the preseason, Seamon re-joined the team on May 18 following his graduation from Villanova University. He played as a reserve in the friendly with Argentine side Boca Juniors, scoring in the 70th minute on his first shot and first touch. After being added to the roster he made the 18-man selection for last week’s New England match.
Seamon is a two-time All-Big East selection, spending all four years at Villanova and leading his club in total points each year. He started all 18 games played as a senior, contributing five goals and seven assists, and was named first team All-Big East.
Elite Youth Tournament Set for July
Sounders FC and Starfire Sports announced that the second annual Sounders FC Cup presented by adidas will be held July 9-11 at Starfire Sports in Tukwila. The tournament is open to boys and girls teams in the U-11 through U-19 divisions.
Sounders FC Cup participants will have exclusive access to meet Sounders FC players, participate in prize drawings featuring autographed merchandise and the opportunity to purchase Sounders FC match tickets at a discounted price.
Youth coaches participating in the tournament will be invited to a coaches clinic featuring Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid.The winning teams will also be recognized during the Sounders FC vs. FC Dallas match on July 11 at Qwest Field.
For more information and to register visit http://starfiresports.com/homepr.asp
Clean Sheet for Keller & Co.
Seattle posted its first clean sheet at home since April 17, with Kasey Keller’s 14th career shutout requiring only one save. The reason: a stout defense that extended into the Revs’ half. The back four of James Riley, Tyrone Marshall, Jeff Parke and Leo Gonzalez-plus holding mid Patrick Ianni-would not allow New England time or space to operate. Keller now has four shutouts this season (three at home), with the last three featuring a total of just four saves. Eleven of Seattle’s 16 wins have been by shutouts and 10 of Keller’s clean sheets have come at home. It has only allowed more than two goals on two occasions, and has yielded more than one goal in consecutive games only once in 48 competitive (regular season, playoff and cup) matches to date.
On the Mend
Following the World Cup break may mark the return of as many as three regulars. Last year’s No. 2 scorer (nine goals, seven assists), Nate Jaqua has missed the first 12 matches while on the disabled list with a lower abdominal fascial tear. Midfielders Osvaldo Alonso and Peter Vagenas (each with quad strains), have missed the past four and three games, respectively. Michael Fucito (knee contusion) underwent surgery last week, as did Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (torn ACL). Both are on the IR and no timetable has been set for their return.
Two Dozen: Count ‘Em
Injuries have undoubtedly contributed to not only a slow start but also a greater number of players shuffling through the lineup. Already Sigi Schmid has used 24 different players in MLS matches, compared to 22 in all of the inaugural season. There have been 20 different starters (there were 21 in 2009) and each of the players currently under contract has been in uniform for a match, except Nate Jaqua, who has been on the IR since March 24.
Changes in the XI
For the first time this season Seattle started the same XI in consecutive matches against New England. Still, it was a new look, with Sigi Schmid opting to go with a 4-4-2 after using a 4-3-3 in five May matches. Schmid’s bench featured a new look. Four former USL Sounders were in the 18, including central defender Taylor Graham, who returned to MLS action for the first time since June 16, 2007 while playing for New York. Graham, Roger Levesque and Sanna Nyassi each got into the match. Zach Scott, another USL veteran, was also in uniform.
Easy on the Cards
Other than its Electricity third kit, Sounders FC has not been overly associated with bright colors this season. Seattle has seen far fewer cards, either yellow or red, from the officials. By going three consecutive matches without a caution, Tyrone Marshall’s yellow card total has now been rolled back to three, avoiding the team’s first suspension of 2010. In the first 13 matches of 2009 there were six suspensions, including five due to red cards. This season Sounders FC has been issued 19 cautions, compared to 29 at the same stage a year ago.
All-Star Voting Underway
Fan voting for the 2010 AT&T MLS All-Star First XI is underway. Fans may vote online at http://www.mlssoccer.com/all-star. For the first time in League history, fans may also vote by texting a last name from the ballot to “22442.” Additionally, fans can text an MLS club name to “22442” to vote for all nominees from that team. Fan voting will comprise one quarter of the total vote for the First XI selections, with MLS players, coaches & GM’s, and media each accounting for one of the other three quarters.
The MLS All-Stars will take on Manchester United in the 2010 AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Reliant Stadium, in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday, July 28 (live on ESPN2 and TeleFutura at 8:30 p.m. ET).
Celtic on Sale
Tickets are now on sale for the summer friendly between Sounders FC and Scotland’s Celtic on July 18 on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field. It will be Seattle’s second friendly and, along with last week’s Boca Juniors friendly, is part of the 18-match season-ticket holder package. A third match will be announced soon. Tickets will be available at www.soundersfc.com, all Ticketmaster outlets, the Qwest Field Box Office, or by calling 800-745-3000.
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.
Sounders FC Drive for Nothing But Nets Enters Final Week
A six-week fundraising campaign to help raise money and awareness for the United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign is now entering the final few days. Sounders FC owner Drew Carey and midfielder Sanna Nyassi are serving as honorary co-chairs of the fundraising initiative that began on May 1 and runs through June 10.
Long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed nets are one of the most effective methods of preventing the spread of malaria, a leading killer of children in Africa. 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. 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.
Among the Leaders
As a team, Seattle has fired 140 shots, which is 2nd most in MLS. Fredy Montero is tied for 9th in MLS with four goals and 7th with four assists. Kasey Keller is 3rd among goalkeepers with 1035 minutes played and is 6th with a goals against average of 1.13. Keller is also tied for 3rd most shutouts with four. Freddie Ljungberg is 2nd in fouls suffered with 27 and Montero is tied for 3rd with 25. Ljungberg leads the league with 64 corner kicks, 12 more than any other player. Brad Evans’ two game-winning assists is second best in the league.
Blaise Nkufo started both of the pre-World Cup friendlies last week for the Swiss National Team. Nkufo assisted on Switzerland’s goal in a 1-1 draw with defending champion Italy. FIFA World Cup play begins on June 16 versus Spain in Durban, South Africa. The other two Group H matches are June 21 versus Chile and June 25 against Honduras. Nkufo completed his seven-year run with FC Twente on May 2 by helping the Enschede club win its first Dutch Eredivisie championship. He is Twente’s all-time scoring leader with 114 goals in the Eredivisie, including 12 this past season. He signed with the Sounders FC on March 4, and will join the team in July following the World Cup. Nkufo scored five goals for the Swiss during World Cup qualification.
Note: Time Change for July 25
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Colorado Rapids on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field first kick on July 25 has been changed to 7:30 p.m. PT. The match will be nationally televised on Fox Soccer Channel.
About D.C. United
D.C. United is yet to earn a point on the road this season (0-4-0). The club ranks last among MLS teams in scoring offense (0.64 goals per game) and is 15th in the league with 20 goals allowed (1.82 per game). It held the second-best scoring team, Real Salt Lake, scoreless on Saturday for its first shutout of the season. Although Jamie Moreno is first all-time in MLS with 132 career goals, he only has one this season. Forward Danny Allsopp leads the team with two goals and four other United players have scored once. Defender Dejan Jakovic made an early return to play the full 90 on Saturday. Jakovic suffered a broken clavicle earlier in the season but recovered weeks ahead of schedule. Three youngsters figure prominently in the D.C. lineup. Midfielder Rodney Wallace, 21, has started all 11 games and has a team-high two assists. Defender Jordan Graye, 23, has started all seven appearances this season, including playing the full 90 last Saturday. And teenage goalkeeper Bill Hamid, 19, has started all four appearances, making 12 saves on 18 shots (1.25 GAA). Head coach Curt Onalfo was the first visiting coach to win at Qwest Field when his Kansas City Wizards won, 1-0, on April 11, 2009. Onalfo was dismissed by the Wizards before the teams met again later in the season.
D.C. United Series Recap
Seattle scored seven goals – three by Fredy Montero-in winning twice and drawing once in three 2009 meetings with D.C. United.
Seattle Sounders FC 3, D.C. United 3 – June 17, 2009 – Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field
A late own goal foiled Seattle’s bid for victory in a high-scoring, nationally-televised draw with the Eastern Conference leaders. D.C. United rookie Chris Pontius opened the scoring in the 34th minute, converting a long cross by midfielder Santino Quaranta. Sounders FC stormed back to take the lead before the break. Osvaldo Alonso sent the crowd into a frenzy when he cracked a 30-yard blast past the right upright to make it 1-1. Just before halftime Nate Jaqua gave Sounders FC the lead, 2-1, knocking his shot off United’s Marc Burch. Seattle’s lead grew to 3-1 on Fredy Montero’s sixth goal of the season in the 57th minute. The visitors began their comeback when Christian Gomez scored in the 67th minute, slotting a shot far post past Kasey Keller. The equalizer for D.C. United came in the 87th minute of the match from an own goal by defender Tyrone Marshall, who deflected a Pontius cross into the net. It was the first time the Sounders FC allowed three goals in a match. Seattle finished with a 17-10 advantage in shots.
Seattle Sounders FC 2, D.C. United 1 – September 12, 2009 – RFK Stadium
Fredy Montero’s game-winning goal in the 84th minute moved Seattle back into third in the West as the Sounders FC returned to the site of their triumphant display in the U.S. Open Cup Final 10 days earlier. Steve Zakuani scored the game’s first goal in the 5th minute. Peter Vagenas freed Zakuani with a long pass out of his own end, dissecting the D.C. United defense and leaving the left winger one-on-one with defender Bryan Namoff. Zakuani shot through the open legs of onrushing goalkeeper Josh Wicks, for his fourth goal of the season. D.C. United answered back with a goal in the 55th minute. A tackle by Sounders FC defender James Riley sent the ball to the center of the box where United’s Rodney Wallace knocked it past Kasey Keller. Riley responded by setting up Montero’s winner. He slid a ball into the right side of the box, where Montero quickly turned and crushed his shot high into the near post corner for his 11th goal of the season. It was his third goal in as many games against United for the season. All-Star midfielder Freddie Ljungberg missed the match due to yellow card accumulation and defender Tyrone Marshall sat out most of the game as a result of injury.
Seattle Sounders FC 2, D.C. United 1 – September 2, 2009 – RFK Stadium
Scoring twice in the final 23 minutes, the Sounders FC became the second MLS expansion franchise to win the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title. Although aggressive on the attack from the outset, Seattle was unable to break through until the 67th minute. Steve Zakuani found Freddie Ljungberg going into the box. Wicks stopped Ljungberg’s toe-poke but Montero scrambled in the rebound for a 1-0 lead. Roger Levesque put the visitors up 2-0 in the 86th minute after Sebastien Le Toux beat his defender and hit a low ball through across the goalmouth. Levesque slid the ball home at the far post. D.C. United’s lone goal came in the 89th minute when a free kick was deflected off the wall to Clyde Simms, who converted into the open net.
Seattle/D.C United Connections
Midfielder Stephen King returns to Seattle for the first time since he was traded to D.C. on April 30. King has started two of three appearances for United, logging 195 minutes with five shots (two on goal). King played his college career at nearby Maryland alongside United teammate Rodney Wallace. D.C. United forward Marc Burch played seven games for Sigi Schmid’s Columbus Crew in 2006.
Sounders FC 3, New England Revolution 0 – June 5, 2010 – Recap
Sounders FC scored a team record three first-half goals to beat the New England Revolution, 3-0, in front of 36,344, the club’s largest home crowd for an MLS match on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field.
Leo Gonzalez scored his first goal and recorded his first assist for Seattle, and Steve Zakuani and Fredy Montero each added tallies as Sounders FC snapped a two-game losing skid and won at home for the first time in four matches dating back to April 17.
Gonzalez ended Seattle’s 270-minute home scoreless streak with a goal in the 5th minute. He took a ball from Zakuani at the top corner of the box, wound up and blasted a left-footed shot that curled inside the far post from 15 yards.
Sounders FC added another score in the 24th minute. Montero sent a quick throw-in to Brad Evans who chested the ball and flicked it back. Zakuani launched a volley off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season.
Montero tacked on a third goal shortly before halftime. Pat Noonan took a pass from Gonzalez in the 42nd minute and flicked it to Montero who, after avoiding a defender, struck a right-footed shot from the top of the box that evaded Revs keeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Noonan had hit the left post with a drive in the 32nd minute.
Montero is now the club’s co-leader with four goals and has a team-high four assists.
Seattle fired a record 19 shots (8 on goal) and held a commanding 10-4 advantage in corner kicks. Kasey Keller earned his fourth shutout of the season, making one save on two New England shots.
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)
40,122 May 26, 2010 Seattle v Boca Juniors (friendly)
36,344 June 5, 2010 Seattle v New England
36,273 May 8, 2010 Seattle v Los Angeles
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
35,953 May 22, 2010 Seattle v San Jose
35,924 April 17, 2010 Seattle v Kansas City
*46,011 November 22, 2009 MLS Cup (Real Salt Lake v L.A.)
The following players are currently training with Sounders FC: Goalkeepers (4): Terry Boss, Derby Carillo*, Chris Eylander*, Kasey Keller; Defenders (10): Taylor Graham, Leo Gonzalez, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Tyrone Marshall, Jeff Parke, James Riley, Zach Scott, Tyson Wahl, Jamel Wallace#; Midfielders (8): Osvaldo Alonso, David Estrada, Brad Evans, Freddie Ljungberg, Sanna Nyassi, Michael Seamon, Nathan Sturgis, Peter Vagenas; Forwards (7): Michael Fucito, Nate Jaqua, Roger Levesque, Miguel Montano, Fredy Montero, Pat Noonan, Steve Zakuani.
#SuperDraft selection, *invitee
Last week was the first time Sounders FC held a halftime lead since April 10…Sounders FC is 2-1-3 in ESPN2 matches, with both wins coming in season-opening matches at home…Terry Boss will sign autographs at the Pro Shop @ Qwest Field on Tuesday, from 6-7 p.m…James Riley will be at Bellevue’s Highland Middle School on Tuesday, from 2:30-3:30 p.m…Patrick Ianni celebrates his 25th birthday on June 15…This week’s match date in Seattle soccer history: June 10, 1984 – In its inaugural match played at Memorial Stadium, FC Seattle drew, 2-2, with the NASL Vancouver Whitecaps. Seattle’s Bruce Raney opened the scoring after just 45 seconds…Two former A-League/USL Sounders featured in the U.S. National Team’s final pre-World Cup friendly last week. Hercules Gomez scored the Americans’ final goal in a 3-1 win over Australia and Marcus Hahnemann did not allow a goal in his 45 minutes as keeper in the second half.