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Daily coverage of Seattle Sounders FC, MLS and world soccer.

August 2, 2010 at 5:15 PM

Sounders FC’s weekly release of team news and notes

The surge of the Seattle Sounders FC will be tested twice again this week as the Rave Green plays matches 3,000 miles apart. Sounders FC can clinch a place in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage with a win or draw at El Salvador’s AD Isidro Metapan on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. PT. Seattle can continue its climb up the Western Conference of MLS when it hosts the Houston Dynamo on Sunday night at 8 p.m. PT.

The Metapan match in San Salvador will be nationally televised on Fox Soccer Channel and Sunday’s fixture is on KONG 6/16. KIRO 97.3 FM and Homero 1210 AM will also air Sunday’s game.

Undefeated in its last four MLS matches and in six games over all competitions, Sounders FC (7-8-4, 25 points) has vaulted from seventh to fourth in the West, one point behind FC Dallas. Seattle has won three straight and has not lost in its last four MLS starts dating back to July 11. The six-game unbeaten run (5-0-1) in all competitions began with a 2-0 win over the L.A. Galaxy in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal on July 7.

Sounders FC defeated Metapan, 1-0, in the first leg of the preliminary series, played on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field last week. The team then won at San Jose, 1-0, before continuing its journey to San Salvador.

Metapan and Sounders FC are playing for a berth in the group stage of the Champions League. The winner of the two-game series will be determined by total goals. Away goals will serve as the tiebreaker. However, if the score of the series remains tied after regulation on Tuesday, 30 minutes of extra time will be added and, if needed, penalty kicks will decide the outcome.

Seattle and Houston (5-8-5, 20 points) are sowing the seeds of a true rivalry, having already met five times with some memorable outcomes. Houston is coming off its fourth draw in the last five, a 2-2 result at home against the New York Red Bulls. It is winless since May 22.

This will be the first meeting since the Dynamo eliminated Sounders FC from the MLS Cup Playoffs last November. The two-game postseason series was extended to extra time after the second leg at Robertson Stadium in Texas. Earlier in 2009, Seattle had beaten Houston, 2-1 after extra time, in the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Rave Green won at home and drew on the road in two regular season matches with the Dynamo.

Sounders FC will travel to Carson, Calif., for the first meeting of the season against Chivas USA on August 14. For tickets to Sounders FC home matches, call 1-877-MLS-GOAL or visit www.SoundersFC.com.

Upcoming Competition Schedule (All times Pacific)

Tuesday, August 3, 7 p.m. – at Isidro Metapan, Estadio Cuscatlan, San Salvador, El Salvador (CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round)

Sunday, August 8, 8 p.m. – Houston Dynamo, Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, Seattle

Sunday, August 14, 7:30 p.m. – at Chivas USA, The Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.

Saturday, August 28, 7:30 p.m. – Chicago Fire, Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, Seattle

Wednesday, September 1, 7:30 p.m. – Chivas USA, Starfire Sports Stadium, Tukwila, Wash. (Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal)

Saturday, September 4, 4:30 p.m. – at New England Revolution, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

Montero in Overdrive

Summertime suits Fredy Montero just fine. Montero’s productivity seems to increase with the temperature and after scoring the game-winner at San Jose last week the Colombian forward has now tallied a goal or an assist in a league-best eight consecutive matches dating back to June 5.

He has been involved in each of the team’s six goals during the current four-game league unbeaten run (he was not credited with an assist on Steve Zakuani’s first goal versus Colorado because a defender poked the ball a few feet away to Zakuani).

Against the Earthquakes Montero started and finished the scoring sequence. He played Sanna Nyassi into the right side of the box, then leapt to meet Nyassi’s cross and head it into the net from 6 yards in the 26th minute. Earlier, he had headed off the crossbar on another Nyassi service.

Montero has either scored (6) or assisted (6) on 12 of the last 15 goals scored by Sounders FC, dating back to April 22, and also scored the game-winner in the first-leg victory over Isidro Metapan. He is tied for sixth in goals (7) and second in MLS assists (8) and one of two players to rank among top 10 in both categories.

Montero has attempted 19 shots in the last four games, with nine on target, plus another, a header, off the crossbar at San Jose. He now has 20 career goals with Seattle in all competitions and his 22 shots on goal this season ranks fourth in MLS.

‘D’ Does the Job

Without a doubt, the defense is doing a lot of the heavy lifting during this unbeaten run. Seattle has allowed only four goals in those four matches after giving up nine goals in consecutive losses to D.C., Philadelphia and L.A. There have been four shutouts in the last six games over all competitions, with eight different defenders cycling through the back four in those games.

See Sanna Go

Right winger Sanna Nyassi is difficult to defend, especially when he has a head full of steam. Nyassi has won a spot in the first XI and helped deliver the goods. He has assisted on the game-winning goals in each of the last three matches, with his perfectly-flighted cross to Fredy Montero resulting in the decisive goal at San Jose. He came on as a substitute to set-up the 89th minute winner at D.C. United on June 15, his first in league play. With three game-winning assists, he ranks second in MLS, alongside Montero. Nyassi also had an assist on Nate Jaqua’s goal at Portland in the Open Cup third round match.

Nkufo, Fernandez Mix In

Seattle’s two midseason acquisitions, forward Blaise Nkufo and midfielder Alvaro Fernandez, each played significant roles at San Jose. Nkufo nearly notched his first goal, his close-range header off a Fredy Montero cross being saved by Quakes keeper Jon Busch in the opening minutes. Nkufo sent Busch to the ground again in the second half with a left-footed drive from the top of the box. He came off after 85 minutes. Fernandez helped preserve the victory, entering the game with 21 minutes remaining. In his debut, coming after only a couple training sessions, he integrated seamlessly into the team. Fernandez helped hold possession and connected cleanly and quickly with his new teammates. Nkufo (Switzerland) and Fernandez (Uruguay) each played at the 2010 FIFA World Cup prior to joining Sounders FC.

Keller in His Prime

Kasey Keller is the Sounders FC last line of defense and, as opponents have come to learn over the past two decades, he is tough to put a ball past. His shutout at San Jose was the second in the last three games and his sixth of the season. Keller made two saves on the Quakes, including a stop of Cornell Glen early on with the game still scoreless. The Seattle skipper leads all MLS players in minutes played with 1665 and his six wins is fifth. He has yet to miss a league match due to injury and has played in 44 straight. Keller earned MLS Save of the Week for Matchday 17 for his stop of Colorado’s Jamie Smith’s redirection attempt in the 61st minute.

Youth Movement

Sigi Schmid is relying more on his young players of late. His starting midfield foursome in the last two MLS matches-Sanna Nyassi (21), Osvaldo Alonso (24), Nathan Sturgis (23) and Steve Zakuani (22)-averages 22.5 years of age. Rookie Michael Seamon (22) started in the match against Metapan and newly signed Uruguayan international Alvaro Fernandez (24) saw his first action in the final 21 minutes at San Jose. The rest of the under-25 set is rounded out by Patrick Ianni (25) in central defense and Fredy Montero (23) up front.

Busy Days Are Here Again

Seattle has begun another busy stretch. Within a span of 10 calendar days between July 25 and August 3 Sounders FC will have played four matches, including this week’s 3,000-mile trip to El Salvador. Should Seattle advance from its CONCACAF Champions League series with Metapan, it could potentially play 11 matches over six weeks and 23 times altogether before the MLS regular season ends in late October.

Midfielder Peter Vagenas Placed on Disabled List

Peter Vagenas has been placed on disabled list due to a right quadriceps strain.

As a result, Vagenas, 32, is required to miss six games. Included in those six games was the San Jose Earthquakes match on July 31, and he is eligible to return to league play for the September 9 game in Seattle against the Real Salt Lake.

Vagenas, in his 10th season in Major League Soccer, has started all seven appearances in 2010 and has played a total of 542 minutes.

The Injury Factor

Seattle has yet to put its projected first XI on the pitch in 2010. Injuries have sidelined key players such as Nate Jaqua (the first 13 matches), Osvaldo Alonso (seven games), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (the past nine) and Brad Evans (the last six). Mike Fucito has been lost to a knee injury since scoring the winner versus Kansas City on April 17.

Only three players have appeared in each of the 19 matches. Kasey Keller is the only player to start each fixture and he is the leader in minutes (1665). Fredy Montero and Steve Zakuani are the only outfield players with 19 appearances. Defender James Riley tops all outfield players in minutes (1608). Already Sigi Schmid has used 28 different players in MLS matches, compared to 22 in all of the inaugural season.

Join the Sounders, See the World

Sounders FC begins August with its first trip in search of international spoils. On Sunday the team flew on from San Jose to San Salvador for the second leg of the Champions League series with Metapan. On Wednesday the team returns to Seattle via Houston to prepare for a match against the Dynamo on August 8. If Sounders FC advances to the Champions League group stage the club will visit either Marathon of Honduras or Tauro of Panama on August 19.

Seahawks and Sounders FC Team up for Free Family Health Fair

The Seattle Seahawks and Sounders FC will co-host a free family health fair in partnership with Regence next Saturday, August 7. The “Be Well Washington Health Fair” will be held at Qwest Field from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. There is no entry fee and parking is free for the day.

The health fair will feature free screenings and interactive wellness activities for the whole family. Other fair activities include healthy cooking demonstrations, safety presentations, health-focused exhibits for women and seniors, and a dedicated area especially for kids with face painters and balloon artists. Sounders FC youth camp coaches will be onsite offering one-on-one skills training as well.

The Sea Gals, Blue Thunder and Seahawks alums will also be on-site throughout the fair.

The event is part of a broader commitment and dedicated week to the residents of Washington from Regence to provide free family activities, screenings and educational opportunities aimed to give families the ingredients to live a healthy and happy lifestyle. Be Well Washington: A Family Health Week will feature complimentary health screenings, presentations by health experts, healthy cooking demonstrations throughout the Puget Sound area at various times throughout the week of August 2 – 7.

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire has proclaimed August 2 – 7, 2010 as “Be Well Washington Week” in recognition of the importance of promoting a happy and healthy lifestyle. The governor issued a formal proclamation in support of Regence BlueShield’s efforts to encourage residents to take responsibility for their individual health; and to provide screenings and health education for state residents.

For more information visit http://bewellwashington.net.

Freddie Ljungberg Traded to Chicago Fire

Freddie Ljungberg, an MLS Best XI selection and two-time All-Star midfielder for the Seattle Sounders FC, has been traded to the Chicago Fire in exchange for a conditional selection in the 2011 or 2012 SuperDraft.

Ljungberg, 33, led Seattle and finished fourth in MLS with nine assists in 2009. He was named the MLS October Player of the Month after assisting on the team’s final four goals of the regular season, helping the Sounders FC reach the MLS Cup Playoffs in the club’s inaugural season. Ljungberg was also a finalist for MLS Newcomer of the Year.

“Freddie is a tremendous individual and an exceptional player who contributed greatly to the huge success of Sounders FC, both on and off the field, in the past year and a half,” said Adrian Hanauer, general manager. “Freddie, along with Kasey Keller, gave this club immediate stature in the world’s game, and we are grateful for his service. We wish him all the best in Chicago.”

Said Ljungberg: “I want to start off by saying how proud I am to have been part of the most successful new franchise in MLS history, the Seattle Sounders FC. I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I first came to Seattle but I have to say that how the city and the fans have embraced me has gone beyond my wildest dreams and for that I am forever grateful. I also want to thank my teammates who are absolutely great on and off the pitch. I have made some very close friends who I know I will be in contact with forever.”

Ljungberg was signed as Seattle’s first Designated Player on October 28, 2008. He came to Sounders FC after 10 seasons in the English Premier League. In his nine years with Arsenal he was a member of teams that won two EPL titles, three FA Cups and a UEFA Champions League final appearance.

This season the former Swedish international played in each of the first 15 Sounders FC matches (starting 14) and contributed three assists. Altogether over the two seasons he played in 37 matches (starting 35), scoring two goals and adding 12 assists.

In 2009 Sounders FC became the first expansion team since 1998 to qualify for the playoffs and finished with the league’s fourth-best point total. Seattle also won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship and broke the MLS season record for attendance.

Sounders Sign Uruguayan Midfielder Alvaro Fernandez

The Seattle Sounders FC acquired Uruguay National Team midfielder Alvaro Fernandez. Fernandez, 24, played in four matches for semifinalist Uruguay during the recent 2010 FIFA World Cup, and qualifies as the club’s second Designated Player.

Fernandez started for Uruguay in the quarterfinal against Ghana and was a substitute in wins over South Africa, Mexico and South Korea. La Celeste took fourth in South Africa, its best finish since 1970. He has been capped 11 times by Uruguay-including appearances in six qualifiers-since his debut in 2008.

“I’m very excited to be playing in the U.S. because the football has grown a lot in the last few years and keeps getting better,” said Fernandez. “Seattle is beautiful and I think it’s the ideal place to be with my family. All these things helped in making my decision.”

“Alvaro is a versatile player who can play in a number of midfield positions,” said Sigi Schmid, Sounders FC head coach. “He brings good energy to the game as well as World Cup experience. He can score and also set-up others.”

Fernandez played the 2010 season for Chile’s Universidad. Universidad, located in Santiago, finished second in the Primera Division and is currently in the semifinal stage of the Copa Libertadores, the South American club championship.

Said Fernandez: “My goals are always the same whenever I join a team: try to help, on and off the field; help the club achieve its goals; and, obviously, win championships. I believe I can contribute through my experience. I describe myself as a fast, smooth player, who can play on either flank. I am strong in the air, and I work very hard.”

“Alvaro is experienced internationally and he has demonstrated a tremendous work rate and great tactical awareness,” said Chris Henderson Sounders FC technical director. “He likes to connect passes, possesses good pace and moves well off the ball.”

Fernandez earned his first selection by the Uruguay National Team while playing for Nacional. In addition to national team play, Fernandez has top-flight experience in Uruguay, Mexico, Portugal and Chile. In 2009 Nacional won the Uruguayan Primeria Division and reached the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores.

Fernandez has been called in by the Uruguay National Team for its August 11 friendly with Angola in Lisbon, Portugal.

About Metapan

AD Isidro Metapan won the 2010 Clausura for its fourth title in the last seven seasons (there are two seasons per year in El Salvador’s Primera Division). That season concluded with the final on May 23. All of the championships have come under coach Edwin Portillo, who also played 10 years for Los Caleros. The 2010 Apertura begins Sunday at Alianza.

Metapan was 5-2-8 in league play and then advanced over Firpo (4-3 on aggregate) and Aguila in the playoffs. Mark Blanco scored two first-half goals in the final with Aguila. Elias Montes scored the deciding goal in the 81st minute of the second leg semi at Firpo. Metapan was 3-0-5 at home and drew 2-2 with Firpo in the semifinal first leg at home, the 8,000-seat Estadio Jorge Calero Suarez.

Tuesday’s match with Sounders FC will be played at the Estadio Cuscatlan, the 44,000-capacity national stadium in the capital city of San Salvador. It is also the home pitch for Alianza. Metapan is located in the northwest corner of El Salvador, approximately 50 miles travel from San Salvador by road. Metapan’s home stadium, Estadio Suarez, was not approved as a suitable site by CONCACAF, prompting the move.

First Leg Recap – Seattle Sounders FC 1 vs. AD Isidro Metapan 0 – July 28, 2010

Fredy Montero scored the game-winning goal just seconds after entering the match to earn the Seattle Sounders FC a 1-0 victory over El Salvador’s AD Isidro Metapan in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round series on Wednesday night on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field.

Montero scored on his first touch within seconds of entering the match as a 60th minute substitute for Nate Jaqua. On a free kick near midfield, Osvaldo Alonso rolled a short pass to Montero who fired toward the net from 40 yards. Metapan goalkeeper Misael Alfaro got a touch on the ball before it bounced across the goal line.

Seattle had several other scoring opportunities, including a header by Steve Zakuani in the 74th minute that forced a save and a shot by Sanna Nyassi in the 83rd minute that missed wide of the far post.

Seattle held a commanding 15-2 advantage in shots (5-1 on goal) and 8-2 on corner kicks.

Kasey Keller was relatively untested as he kept the clean sheet. He was credited with one save.

Awaiting the Winner

The winner of the Sounders FC-Metapan series advances to the group stage, joining Monterrey (Mexico), Saprissa (Costa Rica) and the winner of the preliminary round matchup of Tauro (Panama) and Marathon (Honduras). Marathon defeated Tauro, 3-0, on the road in the first leg. They meet again Wednesday.

In group play each team plays one another twice, home and away. Seattle would visit Marathon or Tauro on August 19 and host Monterrey on August 25. The remainder of the group stage schedule will be announced following completion of the preliminary round.

Past Champions

Several members of the Sounders FC have tasted success in the Champions League predecessor, the CONCACAF Champions Cup. Ezra Hendrickson, now an assistant coach, scored two goals in the 2000 Final as the L.A. Galaxy defeated Olimpia of Honduras, 3-2, at the Coliseum. Peter Vagenas was a teammate of Hendrickson and Sigi Schmid was the Galaxy coach.

From Here to There

Sounders FC qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League by winning the 2009 Lamar hunt U.S. Open Cup. The other U.S. berths went to Real Salt Lake (MLS Cup champion), Columbus Crew (MLS Supporters’ Shield winner) and L.A. Galaxy (MLS Cup runner-up). The former two receive automatic passage to the group stage. Toronto FC is Canada’s representative.

The CONCACAF Champions League is open to the leading teams from federations throughout North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

Pachuca of Mexico won the 2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League. It finished tied, 2-2, on aggregate with Cruz Azul, but prevailed on away goals. Pachuca will represent CONCACAF in the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in December. Barcelona is the reigning world champion.

The Champions League consists of three stages: preliminary rounds, group play and knockout rounds. Group play will begin in mid-August and conclude in late October. Two teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals, to be played in February 2011. The quarterfinals, semifinals and final are two-match series with the winner determined by total aggregate goals. Away goals will be used as the tiebreaker. If teams remain tied after extra time in the second game, the outcome will be decided by penalty kicks.

Champions League Experience

Altogether, seven current Sounders FC players have seen action in Champions League or Champions Cup competition previously in their career: Patrick Ianni (HOU 2007-08), Nate Jaqua (CHI 2004, HOU 2008), Tyrone Marshall (LA 2003, 2006), Pat Noonan (NE 2003, 2006), James Riley (NE 2006), Nathan Sturgis (LA 2006) and Peter Vagenas (LA 2000, 2003, 2006). Sigi Schmid coached the L.A. Galaxy during tournament appearances in 1999, 2000 and 2003.

Memories of San Salvador

Both goalkeeper Kasey Keller and central defender Tyrone Marshall have played international matches at the Estadio Cuscatlan. Keller earned the shutout in a 2-0 win for the U.S. National Team during World Cup qualifying in 2004. Tyrone Marshall was in the Jamaica XI for qualifiers in both 2000 and 2004. Sounders FC technical director Chris Henderson was a USMNT starter and served as captain in 1993 when the Stars and Stripes drew, 2-2, in a friendly with El Salvador.

CONCACAF Heavyweights

Mexico’s Cruz Azuland Club American each have five CONCACAF championships. Defending champion Pachuca has won four times, all since 2002. Mexican clubs have dominated the tournament, winning 27 titles since it began in 1962. The only two U.S. clubs to win were D.C. United (1998) and the L.A. Galaxy (2000). No MLS side has advanced to the final since 2000 and none have won a quarterfinal since 2008.

Sounders in CONCACAF Past

This marks the second CONCACAF involvement for a Seattle professional team. The Sounders qualified as the U.S. representative in 1996 as A-League champions. Seattle defeated Surinam’s Transvaal in the preliminary round then finished fourth in the final group stage, won by eventual champion Cruz Azul.

Sounders FC Reaches SUM Cup U17 Quarterfinals

The Sounders FC U-17 finished with two wins in its debut tournament, the 2010 SUM Cup in Houston. Following wins its first two group matches, Seattle was beaten, 1-0, by Columbus, preventing a berth in the semifinals. To conclude the tournament the Rave Green fell, 1-0, to the Chicago Fire. A final game against the New York Red Bulls was canceled due to severe weather.

D.C. United successfully defended its SUM Cup championship by edging Real Salt Lake in penalties after a scoreless draw in the final. United has won the tournament three of the last four years. All 16 Major League Soccer teams competed in the SUM Cup.

Sounders FC U-17 SUM Cup roster: Stefan Bangsund, Jacob Beck, Ike Crook, Dominique Dismuke, Michael Gallagher, Rodney Greiling, Prince Gundersen, Tolussa Hassan, Aaron Kovar, Ian Lange, Sam Langston, Chris Miller, Kurtis Pederson, Troy Peterson, Jordan Schweitzer, Travis Strawn, Taylor Stapf, Austin Sweeney, Keenan Townsend, DeAndre Yedlin.

Rave Green Make Surf Cup Quarters

The Sounders FC advancde to the quarterfinal round of the Surf Cup Boys U16 Super division last week. Seattle won its group with a 2-0-1 record. It beat the Portuguese Athletic Tigres, 1-0, on a goal by Odason Pelogi. After a 0-0 draw with LAFC Chelsea, Rave Green clinched the group on the strength of a 4-0 win over the Chula Vista Rangers. Pelogi, Austin Sweeney, Jordan Thompson and Jesse Klug got goals. In the quarterfinal game, New York’s Albertson Academy won, 2-0

Sounders FC U-16 Surf Cup roster: Conor Adkisson, Stefan Bangsund, Jacob Beck, Jeffrey Collings, Ike Crook, Mikhail Doholis, Michael Gallagher, Prince Gundersen, Tolussa Hassan, Jesse Klug, Ian Lange, Samuel Langston, Odason Pelogi, Jordan Schweitzer, Michael Steele, Austin Sweeney, Jordan Thompson, Keenan Townsend.

Registration Open for Beach Blast

The men’s and women’s field are fast filling up for the second annual Sounders FC Soccer Beach Blast Tournament, presented by Super Supplements. The tournament is set for August 22 at Alki Beach and registration is now open at www.SoundersFC.com. Registration is $100 per team and $10 of that will benefit Washington Youth Soccer.

The 3-on-3 tournament will be played on sand at Alki, located in West Seattle. Space is limited to the first 48 team entries (24 male and 24 female). Each team is allowed up to five players and all participants must be 18-years-old.

Among the Leaders

Sounders FC leads the league in corner kicks (113), fouls suffered (230) and is third in assists (28). Seattle is third in shots (213) and second in offside (65). Sounders FC also ranks third in fouls committed with 207. Fredy Montero and Steve Zakuani are tied for sixth in MLS scoring, each with seven goals. Montero has added eight assists (T0ind). Montero has taken 57 shots (T0ind) with 22 shots on goal (4th). Montero is third with 41 fouls suffered. Two Seattle veterans are among the top five in minutes played. Kasey Keller leads the league with 1665 minutes played and defender James Riley is fourth amongst with 1608 minutes played.

Open Cup Pairings

Sounders FC will host Chivas USA in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal round on September 1 at Starfire Sports Stadium. The winner advances to the Cup Final, to be played on October 5. In the other semifinal, the Columbus Crew will visit D.C. United on September 1.

Open Cup History in Seattle

A Seattle team has now advanced to the Open Cup semifinals for the fourth year in a row. Sounders FC won the title in 2009 and the USL-1 Sounders reached that stage in both 2007 (against FC Dallas) and 2008 (Charleston). Prior to the Sounders FC victory last year, the only Seattle club to qualify for an Open Cup final was the amateur Mitre Eagles in 1987. The Eagles fell to Club Espana of Washington, D.C., on penalties following a 0-0 draw.

While the NASL Sounders did not participate in the Open Cup, the A-League Sounders competed on an annual basis, beginning in 1995. They lost to El Paso in the semifinals that season, and also advanced to the final four in 1996.

About Houston

The Dynamo have not won in eight MLS matches (0-4-4), dating back to a home win over D.C. United on May 22. It currently sits two points out of last place in the Western Conference, coming off a 2-2 home tie with the New York Red Bulls where Brian Mullan scored the equalizer in the 90th minute. Its record on the road is 1-5-2, allowing 2.00 goals per game and scoring just 0.88. The club has taken just 171 shots (12th in MLS) with only 61 on target (16th). It is also near the bottom of the league with 72 corner kicks (12th). Despite the lack of offensive statistics, Houston is top 5 in goals (fourth with 23) and assists (fourth with 27).

Before visiting Qwest Field on Saturday, the Dynamo play Monarcas Morelia in a SuperLiga semifinal on Thursday night. Saturday’s match will be the first meeting between the two clubs this season, with the series tied at 1-0-1 in regular season play. Houston eliminated Seattle from the 2009 playoffs, scoring the only goal of the series in the 96th minute of the second leg at Houston.

Dynamo Notables

All-Star midfielder Brad Davis leads the team in goals (4) and assists (tied sixth in MLS with 6). He scored the first goal against New York last weekend to end his five-game drought without a goal or assist. Three of his four goals have come from the penalty spot. Davis has also taken a team-high 55 (5th in MLS). Brian Ching and Brian Mullan both have added three goals and two assists this season while Dominic Oduro has two goals and three assists. Lovel Palmer has taken 24 shots, second on the team, but just seven have been on frame. Goalkeeper Pat Onstad has 36 saves on 58 shots and a goals against average of 1.47. His four wins have all come by shutout.

Previous Sounders FC-Houston Dynamo Meetings

Sounders FC 2, Houston Dynamo 1 – July 11, 2009 – Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field

Patrick Ianni’s goal in the opening minute of the second half gave Seattle its first comeback win. A weak defensive clearance led to the game’s opening goal. Houston’s Brad Davis fired past Kasey Keller from 16 yards in the 12th minute. Fred Montero equalized for Seattle in the 31st minute. Off a counterattack, he ran onto Nate Jaqua’s right-wing cross and on his second touch, chipped over Pat Onstad. Mike Chabala, trailing the play, was judged to have cleared the ball just after it crossed the goal line. Ianni, who came to Seattle from Houston in a preseason trade, put Sounders FC ahead in the opening minute of the second half. A corner kick by Freddie Ljungberg was headed on by Jhon Kennedy Hurtado to Ianni, whose overhead kick evaded Onstad and found the left corner. Seattle was without head coach Sigi Schmid, who was in California attending the marriage of his son, Kurt Schmid.

Sounders FC 1, Houston Dynamo 1 – August 23, 2009 – Robertson Stadium

Nate Jaqua’s volley claimed a valuable Seattle point on the road as the Sounders FC battled from a goal down for the third time against Houston. The Dynamo scored the first goal in the 36th minute when Geoff Cameron flicked Brad Davis’ free kick past Kasey Keller. Jaqua broke through in the 70th minute. James Riley served a long cross from the right wing and Zakuani headed back across the crease for Jaqua to volley home from 9 yards.

Sounders FC 0, Houston Dynamo 0 – October 29, 2009 – Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field

Before 35,807 fans, the largest crowd to see an MLS Conference Semifinal match, the league’s top two defensive teams ended scoreless in the first leg of their two-game aggregate series. Sounders FC defender Patrick Ianni, a late replacement for Tyrone Marshallin the Seattle starting lineup, provided the game’s two closest scoring opportunities. In the 14th minute, Ianni’s header from a corner kick by Freddie Ljungberg was cleared off the goal line by Dynamo midfielder Brian Mullan. Another Ianni header from a Ljungberg free kick in the 43rd minute hit the crossbar.

Sounders FC 0, Houston Dynamo 1 – November 8, 2009 – Robertson Stadium

An extra time goal from Brian Ching ended the Sounders inaugural season in the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinals. Both teams also saw several near misses throughout the scoreless 90 minutes of regulation. For the Dynamo, Dominic Oduro’s overhead kick beat Kasey Keller but was cleared by James Riley in the 3rd minute. Eight minutes later, Oduro’s shot from outside the box bounced off the left post. The two-match series still scoreless following 180 minutes, the outcome would be decided in 30 minutes of extra time. Brian Mullan gathered a cross from Mike Chabala and sent it into the box where Ching knocked it past Keller in the 96th minute.

Sounders FC 2, Houston Dynamo 1 – July 21, 2009 – Starfire Sports Stadium (U.S. Open Cup Semifinal)

Stephen King scored the game-winning goal in the fifth minute of overtime to give the Sounders FC a comeback win before a stadium record crowd of 4,895. Houston scored first, in the 32nd minute. Ade Akinbiyi finished a loose ball in the box that the Seattle defense was unable to clear out. In the 89th minute Nate Jaqua got the equalizer from close range, his shot deflecting off a Dynamo defender. King’s goal came after Steve Zakuani’s cross was settled by Sebastien Le Toux. King’s 12-yard shot beat Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall. The victory sent the Sounders FC to Washington,D.C. and the Cup Final against defending champion D.C. United on September 2.

Last MLS Match: Seattle Sounders FC 1, San Jose Earthquakes 0 – July 31, 2010 – Recap

Fredy Montero’s header in the first half helped the Seattle Sounders FC grab three points on the road as it beat the San Jose Earthquakes, 1-0, at Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday night.

Montero has scored (4) or assisted (5) in eight consecutive MLS games.

Sounders FC (7-8-4, 25 points) has won its last three league matches and is unbeaten in six matches in all competitions. With the win, Seattle jumps from sixth in the West to fourth.

San Jose (6-5-5, 23 points) lost for the first time since the World Cup break and falls to sixth in the Western Conference.

Montero struck in the 26th minute. Sanna Nyassi took a ball from Montero and served it back to him in front of the goal where he headed it past San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch.

Montero has seven goals and eight assists this season.

Nyassi has recorded an assist in three consecutive matches, dating back to his first career assist on July 10. All three have been game-winning assists.

Blaise Nkufo had two dangerous shots, including a header in the 2nd minute and a low, left-footed drive in the 63rd minute. Both were stopped by Busch.

Seattle held a 9-8 advantage in shots (7-2 on goal) and corners, 6-5.

Kasey Keller earned his sixth clean sheet of the season, making two saves.

Jeff Parke left the game at halftime with a head injury and was replaced by Tyrone Marshall.

Alvaro Fernandez made his Sounders FC debut, entering the match in the 69th minute for Steve Zakuani. Fernandez, who played for Uruguay in the recent 2010 FIFA World Cup, was signed by the club on July 29.

San Jose beat Seattle, 1-0, in the previous meeting on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field on May 22.

Seattle/Houston Connections

Houston features several personalities with Northwest ties, including two former A-League/USL-1 Sounders. Forward Cam Weaver was the Sounders’ top scorer in 2005 as a rookie out of Seattle University. Weaver had helped the Redhawks win the NCAA Division II championship in 2004. He has started four of six appearances for Houston this season with one goal. Forward Brian Ching starred at Gonzaga and made the all-league team with the Sounders in 2002. Dominic Kinnear, the Dynamo head coach, played for the Sounders’ 1995 A-League championship team.

Mike Chabala also played his collegiate career at Washington. Backup goalkeeper Tally Hall is a native of Gig Harbor, Washington.

Ex-Dynamo Duo

Two members of the Sounders FC came north from Houston during the 2009 offseason. Nate Jaqua played parts of the past two seasons for the Dynamo, scoring 10 goals and six assists in 29 regular season appearances during 2007 and 2008. His goal against Kansas City in the 2007 Western Conference final helped Houston repeat as MLS Cup champion.

Jaqua, who came to Sounders FC via the expansion draft, scored two game-tying goals against the Dynamo last season. His 89th minute goal in the July 21 U.S. Open Cup semifinal sent the match into extra time. Seattle prevailed, 2-1, on a Stephen King goal. Jaqua also scored the 70th minute equalizer in an MLS meeting which ended 1-1 on August 23. In the scoreless first leg, his second-half header forced a reflex save from Pat Onstad to tip it over the bar.

Patrick Ianni was obtained in a January 26 trade for a conditional pick in the 2010 SuperDraft. Ianni spent his first three pro seasons wearing orange, making 35 league appearances for the Dynamo from 2006-08. He played in both regular season meetings last season, and scored the game-winner on a second-half overhead kick in a 2-1 Seattle home win on July 11. Ianni also put two headers on goal in the Open Cup semifinal, forcing a goal line save from Houston’s Brian Mullan and later hitting the crossbar off a Ljungberg free kick.

Sounders FC Top Attendances

66,848        August 5, 2009      Seattle v Barcelona (friendly)

65,289 July 18, 2009 Seattle v Chelsea (friendly)

45,631 July 18, 2010 Seattle v Celtic (friendly)

40,122 May 26, 2010 Seattle v Boca Juniors (friendly)

36,344 June 5, 2010 Seattle v New England

36,333 July 25, 2010 Seattle v Colorado

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

36,146 June 10, 2010 Seattle v D.C. United

*46,011 November 22, 2009 MLS Cup (Real Salt Lake v L.A.)

Training List

The following players are currently training with Sounders FC: Goalkeepers (3): Terry Boss, Chris Eylander*, Kasey Keller; Defenders (9): Taylor Graham, Leo Gonzalez, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Tyrone Marshall, Jeff Parke, James Riley, Zach Scott, Tyson Wahl. Midfielders (8): Osvaldo Alonso, David Estrada, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez, Sanna Nyassi, Michael Seamon, Nathan Sturgis, Peter Vagenas; Forwards (8): Mike Fucito, Blaise Nkufo, Nate Jaqua, Roger Levesque, Miguel Montano, Fredy Montero, Pat Noonan, Steve Zakuani.

*invitee

Throw-ins

Tyrone Marshall followed up an impressive 90 minutes against Met├ípan with a solid 45 in relief of Jeff Parke at San Jose. It was Marshall’s 290th appearance in MLS, ranking him sixth among active players. Parke left the match at halftime with a head injury…Leo Gonzalez played both games last week, returning to starting left back in MLS action after serving a suspension for yellow card accumulation against Colorado…The last three-game win streak came at the end of the 2009 season…Sounders FC is now 7-1-3 this season and 17-2-5 all-time when scoring first…Seattle is only 2-3-1 at home when out-shooting the visitor. In two of its four home wins it was out-shot by the visitor (Kansas City, Colorado)…The Rave Green is now 2-0-1 in its last three meetings with Western Conference opponents.

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