The Seattle Sounders FC and reigning MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake, two teams exhibiting great form of late, will meet in a late-season Western Conference showdown on Thursday night before a national television audience and capacity crowd on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field. First kick is 8 p.m. PT on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
Undefeated in its last four games against West foes, the Rave Green is seeking a fourth straight home win before beginning an odyssey of four road matches being played in three nations over 12 days. Real Salt Lake will be returning to the site of its most glorious night, last November 22, when it prevailed over the L.A. Galaxy in a shoot-out to claim its first MLS Cup.
JP Dellacamera and John Harkes will be in the booth for ESPN2, and Arlo White has the call on KIRO 97.3 FM.
Sounders FC (9-9-5, 32 points in league; 12-11-7 overall) has been on domestic tear, losing only once (7-1-2) in 10 games. However the next phase of matches will be most challenging.
The next two MLS games come against defending champion RSL and the Columbus Crew, winner of the last two Supporters’ Shields. The resumption of CONCACAF Champions League adds three more matches this month, and there will be over 13,000 air miles flown across the U.S. and Central America by the time Seattle returns home after playing in Chicago on September 25.
Last week Sounders FC experienced mixed emotions. First came the high notes as it continued its march through the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, bringing the Cup Final to Seattle on October 5 by beating Chivas USA, 3-1, at home midweek. Three days later, in New England, it sustained its first MLS defeat in two months, 3-1 to the Revolution.
Real Salt Lake (12-4-7, 43 points) won, 1-0, at home against New York, tying the record of 22 consecutive home games unbeaten. Owner of an MLS-best plus-21 goal differential, RSL has been more vulnerable on the road, going 3-4-4 and drawing its last three.
Both teams have rebounded from slow starts. Real Salt Lake, after winning just one of its first five, has gone 11-1-6 since April. Not until July did Sounders FC catch fire, going 5-1-2 in its last eight outings.
Seattle seeks its first MLS win over Real since the second game of its inaugural season. The league series is tied at 1-1-1 after the sides finished level at 2-2 in Real Salt Lake’s 2010 home opener on April 10. Although separated by a time zone and 691 miles, for now Salt Lake is Seattle’s closest MLS neighbor.
The Utah side is second in the Western Conference, just one point behind the Galaxy and Crew in the Supporters’ Shield race. Seattle is tied for fifth in the West but is currently in position to grab a wild card playoff slot.
Each team will get the weekend off before playing Champions League dates to begin next week. Sounders FC visits Costa Rica’s CD Saprissa on September 14 and RSL hosts Canadian champion Toronto FC on September 15.c
Seattle returns to MLS play on September 19 at Columbus. The two sides will meet again 16 days later in the U.S. Open Cup Final on October 5. Tickets for that match go on sale on Tuesday at 10 a.m. PT.
Upcoming Competition Schedule (All times Pacific)
Thursday, September 9, 8 p.m. – Real Salt Lake, Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, Seattle
Tuesday, September 14, 7 p.m. – at CD Saprissa, Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, San Jose, Costa Rica(CONCACAF Champions League, Group Stage/Round Three)
Saturday, September 18, 4:30 p.m. – at Columbus Crew, Columbus Crew Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
Wednesday, September 22, 5 p.m. – at CF Monterrey, Estadio Tecnologico, Monterrey, Mexico (CONCACAF Champions League, Group Stage/Round Four)
Saturday, September 25, 5:30 p.m. – at Chicago Fire, Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill.
Rapid Response Required
With seven matches remaining and an arduous road trip ahead, Sounders FC can ill-afford to miss an opportunity to earn points at home. While Seattle’s second-half surge has put it in a position to make the MLS Cup Playoffs for a second year in a row, it’s a precarious position. With 32 points, Sounders FC is tied with San Jose for the seventh seed.
The Earthquakes, Kansas City (27), Toronto FC (27) and Chicago (25) all have played fewer matches. The Fire own three games in hand. The top two teams in each division automatically qualify for the playoffs, along with the four teams with the next highest totals. This week’s schedule pits the teams currently holding playoff slots against one another.
Countdown to 45
Sigi Schmid has once again set a target of 45 points for his club to make the playoffs. In the first 14 years of MLS, only one team achieving that threshold (Kansas City in 2005) failed to earn a postseason berth. A minimum of 39 points was required the last five years. In 2009, two of the three teams finishing with 40 missed the cut. Real Salt Lake prevailed in the tiebreakers with D.C. United and Colorado and went on to win MLS Cup. In 2008, New York nabbed the eighth and final slot with 39 points, and the Red Bulls proceeded to reach the MLS Cup Final.
When times are trying, the Seattle supporters have never wavered. If anything, their voices have grown louder, their words more encouraging. Multiply that by over 36,000 and it helps explain why Sounders FC has not lost an MLS or open Cup home fixture since June 10, winning five and drawing one. A record-sized crowd (36,386) helped lift the Rave Green to a comeback win over Chicago on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field on August 28. The celebration spilled over to the Starfire Sports Stadium four days later and the victory over Chivas USA in the Open Cup semifinal.
Sounders FC Support is a Growing Legend
The loyal, passionate and thunderous support of Sounders FC is already becoming legend. In 2009 the club established an MLS record (30,943) for average season attendance and to date there have been 28 consecutive sellouts of MLS matches. Seattle is averaging 36,174 this season. The turnout of 22,513 for the August 25 Champions League match with Monterrey was the second-largest for a Champions League/Champions Cup match played in the U.S.
Attendance for the Open Cup Final could be the largest in modern history. In the MLS era of the tournament, the largest crowd was 19,164 at Chicago in 2000, when the Fire met Miami in the Final at Soldier Field.
Modern Era Open Cup Finals (since MLS participated in 1996):
Year Site Atten. Score
2009 Washington, DC 17,329 Seattle 2, D.C. United 1
2008 Washington, DC 8,212 D.C. United 2, Charleston 1
2007 Frisco, Tex. 10,618 New England 3, FC Dallas 2
2006 Chicago 8,151 Chicago 3, Los Angeles 1
2005 Carson, Calif. 10,000 Los Angeles 1, Dallas 0
2004 Kansas City 8,819 Kansas City 1, Chicago 0 (aet)
2003 East Rutherford, N.J. 5,183 Chicago 1, New York 0
2002 Columbus 6,054 Columbus 1, Los Angeles 0
2001 Fullerton, Calif. 4,195 Los Angeles 2, New England 1
2000 Chicago 19,164 Chicago 2, Miami 1
1999 Columbus 4,455 Rochester 2, Colorado 0
1998 Chicago 18,615 Chicago 2, Columbus 1
1997 Indianapolis 9,776 Dallas 0, D.C. United 0 (4-2 pk)
1996 Washington, DC 7,234 D.C. United 3, Rochester 0
The unofficial record attendance is an estimated 21,583 for the 1929 Final between the Hakoah All-Stars and Madison Kennel Club, Mo., (won by Hakoah, 3-0) at Dexter Park in Brooklyn, New York
Tickets for Open Cup Final Go on Sale Tuesday
The Sounders FC announced tickets will go on sale for the U.S. Open Cup Championship match on Tuesday, September 7, at 10 a.m. The Sounders FC will host the Columbus Crew on Tuesday, October 5 at Qwest Field. Kick-off is set for 8 p.m.
Tickets start at $15 and will be available at www.SoundersFC.com, by calling 800-745-3000, all Ticketmaster outlets and the Qwest Field Box office. The Sounders FC sold 16,400 tickets in a pre-sale to season ticket holders.
Chivas de Guadalajara Tickets on Sale September 13
Sounders FC will host Chivas de Guadalajara, an 11-time champion, one of Mexico’s most popular teams and the 2010 Copa Libertadores runner-up, on Tuesday, October 12, on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. PT and the match will be televised live on TeleFutura.
Tickets for the Chivas match go on sale on Monday, September 13 at 10 a.m. Tickets will be available at www.SoundersFC.com, by calling 800-745-3000, all Ticketmaster outlets and the Qwest Field Box office. The match is part of the Sounders FC 18-game season ticket package.
Chivas de Guadalajara is Mexico’s most successful club with 11 league championships. It is famous for using only Mexican players and features many of the country’s top players, including Jonny Magallon, Adolfo “Bofo” Bautista, Alberto “Venado” Medina and Luis Michel, who all represented Mexico at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Other stars on the team include Omar Bravo, Edgar Mejia, Patricio “Pato” Araujo, and Hector Reynoso.
This is the first visit to Seattle by Chivas de Guadalajara. In 1985 Universidad de Guadalajara faced FC Seattle at Memorial Stadium.
A (Final) Weekend Off
By the end of the regular season, no other MLS club will have played more matches than Sounders FC. Combining MLS (30), Champions League preliminary (2) and group stage (6) fixtures, plus Open Cup matches (4), Seattle will have played 42 competitive matches. It played 38, including MLS Cup playoffs, in 2009. The only other MLS club competing in three competitions is Columbus, which is also active in the CCL and Open Cup.
Sounders FC is in the midst of 10 consecutive weeks with midweek competitive matches, however it gets this weekend off before traveling to Costa Rica. In addition to the seven remaining regular season games, Sounders FC will play four CCL group stage matches and the U.S. Open Cup Final. There is also a friendly with Mexico’s Chivas de Guadalajara on October 12. Playoffs could potentially push that total to 17 competitive matches between now and November 21, the date of MLS Cup 2010.
Let’s Do It Again
In the words of Yogi Berra, perhaps it’s deja vu all over again. It was a 3-1 road defeat at L.A. which spurred Sounders FC to a record seven-game unbeaten run from July 11 through August. Sigi Schmid can hope the lost weekend in New England will have the same effect. After allowing only three goals in those seven matches, the defense gave up three scores in 11 minutes to the Revs. In fact, opponents have scored three times in each of the last four Seattle defeats.
Twice As Nice
With his goal at New England, winger Steve Zakuani raised his season total to eight-double the production of his rookie season. The strike came on the heels of his two assists in the cup semifinal win on Wednesday. Zakuani turned the Chivas USA defense inside out with his runs down the left, creating goals for Nate Jaqua and Fredy Montero. Some rest had done the player good. In mid-August he missed one MLS match and two CCL dates with a groin strain.
Another Match-Winner for Montero
Fredy Montero got his sixth game-winning goal in all competitions by poking home the second score in Seattle’s semifinal win over Chivas USA. It was Montero’s first Open Cup tally since scoring the first in last year’s 2-1 triumph over D.C. United in the Final.
Returning to MLS, he was unable to put a shot on goal in two attempts at New England. The previous game he had scored a brace and set a club record with four shots on goal against Chicago.
Montero has scored (9) or assisted (7) on 16 of the last 20 goals scored by Sounders FC since April 22, including five goals and three assists during the seven-game unbeaten run. He is tied for thirdin goals (10) and assists (9) and is one of two players to rank among MLS top five in both categories.He has 12 goals (six game-winners) and 10 assists in all competitions.
Jaqua Raises Cup Total to Five
Nate Jaqua has scored five of Seattle’s six goals in Open Cup play this season. Jaqua added a brace against Chivas USA to become the tournament’s joint scoring leader, and he is coming into midseason form of late, supplying plenty of spark off the bench in recent appearances against Marathon, Monterrey and Chicago. Jaqua missed the first 13 games this season through injury. Shortly after returning he was named U.S. Open Cup Player of the Quarterfinal Round by TheCup.us. Jaqua scored both goals in the 2-0 win over the L.A. Galaxy and had also scored against Portland in the third round of the tournament.
Jaqua has scored six goals in his last seven games against Real Salt Lake, including one of his two career hat tricks. He scored the first goal in Seattle’s 2-0 victory over RSL in 2009. While playing for Houston in 2007, he scored three times for the Dynamo in a 4-3 home win. Jaqua got the game-winner and did so again in 2008 in another 4-3 victory and he also found the net against Salt Lake when playing for the L.A. Galaxy on June 17, 2007.
Riley’s Supply Line
Right back James Riley notched his second assist in as many games during his Foxborough homecoming last week. Riley, who played his first three MLS seasons for the Revs, found Steve Zakuani for the game’s first goal. With seven games remaining, he has tied his career high for assists with four and his eight assists since joining Sounders FC is third behind only Fredy Montero (16) and Freddie Ljungberg (12). Since July 11, Riley has played every minute of the club’s last 13 matches in all competitions. He was shown his fourth yellow card of the season at New England. If Riley avoids a card in the next three MLS games that total will be rolled back to three.
Estrada Removed From DL
David Estrada was removed from the club’s Disabled List prior to the match at New England and was in uniform later that night. Estrada, 22, was placed on the DL on July 15. He has appeared in three MLS games, including one start at FC Dallas. He also saw action in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal and CONCACAF Champions League group stage.Seattle selected Estrada with the 11th overall pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft.
Four Months Later, Fucito Returns
The long, strange road to recovery finally ended with Mike Fucito returning to action for eight minutes at New England. Out since scoring the stoppage time winner against Kansas City on April 17, Fucito battled back after a knee injury required surgery to repair. He had made the final 18 at the CCL match at Marathon on August 19 and was again dressed for the Open Cup semifinal last week.
Defense: Drought or Deluge
After holding strong and setting a club record 379-minute scoreless streak in August, the Sounders FC defense began September with a critical failure. New England scored three goals during an 11-minute span of the second half and finished with 10 shots on goal (16 total attempts), the most in nine games, and Kasey Keller’s six saves was his third-highest career total. Nineteen of the 29 goals allowed this season have come in the second half, including nine (second-most in MLS) in the final 15 minutes. Seattle, which tied for first in scoring defense in 2009, has given up three or more goals four times this season.
Gambia Wins Without Sanna
Sanna Nyassi did not see action for the Gambia National Team in Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Namibia in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Banjul, Gambia. Although Sanna did not dress for the game, his twin brother Sainey started and scored one of the goals. Sanna’s national team duty interrupted his string of six consecutive starts in MLS matches. He has three assists (all game-winners) in 17 appearances.
Will Cup Runneth Over?
Sounders FC will host the Final at Qwest Field on October 5. The defending U.S. Open Cup champion, Seattle is bidding to become the first repeat winner since 1982-83 when the New York Pancyprian Freedoms won back-to-back. The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, recognized as U.S. Soccer’s National Championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. The tournament has crowned a champion for 96 consecutive years dating back to 1914. It is the oldest annual team tournament in U.S. sports history and among the oldest soccer tournaments of its type in the world. In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor longtime soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt.
Starfire: The Other Magic Kingdom
Sounders FC is a perfect 6-0-0 in competitive matches played at Starfire Sports Stadium. It won four times in 2009 Open Cup related matches, including a comeback extra time semifinal win over Houston. This season Seattle ousted the L.A. Galaxy, 2-0, in the quarterfinal round at Starfire on July 7 and defeated Chivas USA, 3-1, in the semifinal on September 1.
Open Cup History in Seattle
A Seattle team has now advanced to the Open Cup Final for the third time. Sounders FC won the title in 2009 and in 1987 the amateur Mitre Eagles fell to Club Espana of Washington, D.C., on penalties following a 0-0 draw. The USL-1 Sounders reached the semifinal stage in both 2007 (against FC Dallas) and 2008 (Charleston). 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.
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 MLS matches), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (the past 13), Osvaldo Alonso (seven games) and Brad Evans (the last 10). Mike Fucito, out 18 games with a knee injury since scoring the winner versus Kansas City on April 17, returned to action at New England on September 1.
Only two players have appeared in each of the 23 matches. Kasey Keller is the only player to start each fixture and he is the leader in minutes (2025), ranking fifth in MLS. Fredy Montero is the only outfield player with 23 appearances. Defender James Riley tops all outfield players in minutes (1968). Already Sigi Schmid has used 28 different players in MLS matches, compared to 22 in all of the inaugural season. Three players-Evans, Hurtado, and Peter Vagenas-are currently on the MLS disabled list.
Every Minute Men
The minutes are mounting at a rapid rate with twice weekly matches of late. Right back James Riley has played each minute (990) of the last 11 MLS, Champions League and Open Cup matches played since July 25, as has keeper Kasey Keller. In fact, Riley has not come out of a league match since April 25. Also logging more than 900 minutes during the 11 matches since July 25 were Osvaldo Alonso (976) and Fredy Montero (926).
Leo Goes Home
Next week’s trip to Costa Rica will be a homecoming for left back Leo Gonzalez. San Jose is Gonzalez’s hometown. Gonzalez has experienced the atmosphere of Estadio Saprissa from both sides. The Monster’s Cave is home to the Costa Rica National Team, which capped Gonzalez 60 times. He was also on the visiting side for league matches while playing for Herediano and Municipal Liberia against Saprissa. Kasey Keller started for the U.S. in two matches (both losses) against the Ticos at Saprissa, in 1997 and 2000.
The Kids Are Alright
Since July 11 the regular starting midfield quartet has consisted almost exclusively of players ages 24 and under. Sanna Nyassi (21), Osvaldo Alonso (24), Nathan Sturgis (23), Alvaro Fernandez (24) and Steve Zakuani (22) have each started at least three of the last eight MLS matches. Rookies Michael Seamon (23) and Miguel Montano (19) have started twice and once, respectively. Two other 25-and-under regular starters are forward Fredy Montero (23) and center back Patrick Ianni (25). Montero (5), Zakuani (4) and Fernandez have combined to score 10 of Seattle’s last 11 goals in MLS.
Among the Leaders
Sounders FC leads the league in assists (36), corner kicks (139) and fouls suffered (297). Seattle is sixth in shots (261) and tied in eighth in shots on goal (100). It is fifth in offside (73). Sounders FC ranks fifth in fouls committed with 256. Fredy Montero is tied in third in MLS with 10 goals and tied for third with nine assists. Steve Zakuani has eight goals (T-7th). Montero has taken 72 shots (T-3rd) with 30 on goal (4th). Montero is tied in third with 48 fouls suffered. Kasey Keller is fifth with 2025 minutes played.
Last CCL Match: Seattle Sounders FC 0, CF Monterrey 2 – August 25, 2010 – Recap
Sounders FC dropped to the bottom of the Group C standings despite finishing with a commanding advantage in shots and corner kicks. Neri Cardozo scored the first goal and assisted on the second for Monterrey. Aldo de Negris added the second goal for the visitors.
Sounders FC is winless through its first two Group C matches, having lost, 2-1, to CD Marathon in Honduras on August 19. In the other Group C game of Round Two, Saprissa of Costa Rica beat Marathon, 4-1.
Monterrey opened the scoring in the 41st minute. Jesus Zavala played a long ball into the box where it took one bounce before Cardozo headed it past an onrushing Kasey Keller. In the 58th minute Cardozo chipped a ball behind the Seattle defense and de Nigris touched it once before sending a right-footed strike inside the near post.
Sounders FC forward Nate Jaqua had a 90th minute goal called back. He knocked in the rebound of a Fredy Montero shot saved by Jonathan Orozco but the goal was disallowed due to offside.
Seattle nearly scored in the 61st minute off a Nathan Sturgis corner kick. Jaqua headed the ball towards goal but it was knocked down by keeper Jonathan Orozco. Montero had a chance to put away the rebound but the ball was cleared off the line.
Just minutes after entering the match as a halftime substitute, Jaqua served a ball to Sanna Nyassi who slid a shot past Orozco from 6 yards but it caromed off the right post.
Seattle owned statistical advantages in shots (17-7, 6-3 on goal) and corners (12-5).
The crowd of 22,513 was the second-largest for a Champions League/Champions Cup match played in the U.S.
Monterrey leads Group C with six points. Saprissa and Marathon each have three points.Seattle’s next Champions League match is September 14 at Saprissa.
Last MLS Match: Sounders FC 1, New England Revolution 3 – September 1, 2010 – Recap
Sounders FC conceded three second-half goals within a span of 11 minutes as a franchise-best seven-game unbeaten streak ended at Gillette Stadium.
After a scoreless first half, Steve Zakuani had staked Seattle to a lead in the 59th minute. Beginning in the 70th minute, New England erupted to snap its three-game losing streak and avenge a 3-0 road loss at Qwest Field on June 5.
Zakuani’s eighth goal of the year was set-up by James Riley. Alvaro Fernandez threaded a ball to Riley on the right side and Zakuani fired his shot through a crowd and inside the far post.It was Fernandez’s first assist and the fourth for Riley.
Michael Seamon started for the third time and took three first-half shots, including a right-footed shot that forced a save from goalkeeper Matt Reis in the 15th minute. It was Seamon’s first start since July 15 at D.C. United.
New England equalized in the 70th minute. Kevin Alston took a long throw-in that Shalrie Joseph headed on to the back post for Chris Tierney, who headed it past Kasey Keller.
In the 73rd minute, Marko Perovic scored the game-winner when he took a deflected pass inside the box and rolled it into an open net.
Kheli Dube added a third and final tally in the 81st minute. Ilija Stolica found Dube near the top of the box and finished it into the top corner of the net.
Seattle was outshot, 16-12 (9-3 on goal).Kasey Keller was tested often, making six saves, including a stop on Stolica’s shot in the 2nd minute and a fingertip save on Tierney’s shot in the 76th minute.
Mike Fucito entered the match in the 82nd minute, marking his first action since suffering an injury on April 17.Midfielder David Estrada was removed from the club’s Disabled List prior to the game and was on the 18-man roster. Forward Blaise Nkufo did not make the trip due to a knee contusion.
About Real Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake currently sits second in the Western Conference, just one point behind the L.A. Galaxy and Columbus Crew in the Supporters’ Shield race. With its win over New York last weekend, the club tied the all-time record of 22 consecutive unbeaten games at home (15-0-7), going 9-0-3 this season at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real Salt Lake has set new single-season records in points (43), wins (12) and shutouts (11). The club has lost once in the past 18 matches (11-1-6) with the lone defeat coming to FC Dallas in July. It leads the league with 37 goals (1.61 per game) and is third in assists (33). Real has had six three-goal games this season, which is top in the league. With as many games played as Seattle (23), Real Salt Lake returns to Qwest Field for the first time since winning the MLS Cup last November.
Alvaro Saborio leads the team with eight goals (T-7th). Javier Morales and Fabian Espindola are second with six goals. Morales has added seven assists (T-7th) and Espindola has recorded two assists. Espindola, the goal-scorer in Saturday’s 1-0 win over the New York Red Bulls, was subbed out after 50 minutes with a strained left hamstring. Kyle Beckerman has two goals and three assists in 15 starts. Nick Rimando is second in MLS with 15 goals allowed (0.68 per game). His 11 shutouts leads the league. Defender Nat Borchers has started all 23 matches, logging 2043 minutes (3rd in MLS). Will Johnson has started 19 of 21 appearances, scoring one goal and recording one assist. Forward Andy Williams, who has been in the league since 1998 and has played for six different teams, has appeared in 22 games with one goal and five assists this season.
Saborio and Johnson were both absent from the New York match last weekend while on national team duty. Saborio (Costa Rica) scored the equalizer in a 2-2 draw with Panama. The Ticos lost to the Raggae Boyz, 1-0, in Jamaica on Sunday. Johnson started for Canada in a defeat to Peru and is expected to play on Tuesday against Honduras in Montreal. Both players will be available for Thursday’s match.
Nathan Sturgis spent the entire 2008 season and part of 2007 with Real Salt Lake. Sturgis appeared in eight matches, starting seven. He was selected by Seattle in the expansion draft in November of 2009. Real forward Robbie Findley returns to the Pacific Northwest where he earned All-Pacific-10 honors in each of his four seasons at Oregon State University. Midfielder Collen Warner went to the University of Portland where he played four seasons for the Pilots. Saborio, who played for Costa Rica’s Saprissa, is a fellow countryman of Seattle’s Leo Gonzalez. Along with the three Colombians on Seattle’s roster, Real’s Jamison Olave hails from Medellin, Colombia. Sigi Schmid coached midfielder Ned Grabavoy for one season at Los Angeles (2004).
About Saprissa (courtesy of CONCACAF)
Club: Deportivo Saprissa
City: San Jose, Costa Rica
Stadium: Estadio Ricardo Saprissa
Manager: Roy Myers
Qualification method: Costa Rican Verano champion
Previous Champions League appearances: 2 (2008-09, 2009-10)
Honors: Costa Rican league – 29 (1952-53, 1953-54, 1957-58, 1962-63, 1964-65, 1965-66, 1967-68, 1969-70, 1972-73, 1973-74, 1974-75, 1976-77, 1977-78, 1982-83, 1988-89, 1989-90, 1993-94, 1994-95, 1997-98, 2003-04, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08 Apertura, 2007-08 Clausura, 2008-09 Apertura, 2010 Clausura); CONCACAF Champions Cup – 3 (1993, 1995, 2005); Copa Interclubes UNCAF – 5 (1972, 1973, 1978, 1998, 2003)
Official Web site: http://www.saprissa.co.cr/content
Not just the most decorated club in Costa Rica, Deportivo Saprissa is also one of the most successful clubs in the entire CONCACAF region. El Monstruo Morado (the Purple Monster) has won a record 29 Primera Division de Costa Rica titles and captured the CONCACAF Champions Cup, the predecessor to the Champions League, three times and have five Central American crowns. One of the greatest moments in club history came in 2005 when Saprissa became the first non-Mexican squad from CONCACAF to play in the FIFA Club World Cup. Saprissa finished third, equaling Mexico’s Necaxa for the best finish in the competition by a CONCACAF squad. Saprissa plays at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, a 23,112-seat fortress known as La Cueva del Monstruo (the Monster’s Cave) and has become a favorite for the Costa Rican national team. It is the only Latin America stadium featuring an artificial playing surface. Roy Myers, who has been capped 45 times and played in the 1990 World Cup for Costa Rica, is the manager. Former Costa Rican international defender Victor Cordero, who has been with Saprissa for 18 seasons, is the captain. Saprissa fell, 1-0, at Monterrey in the first round before beating Marathon, 4-1, at home. In the Costa Rican Primera Division, Saprissa is 2-3-2 and enters the week seventh in the league table. It hosts Perez Zeledon on Sunday.The return match against Sounders FC is October 20.
Previous Sounders FC-Real Salt Lake Meetings
The home side has always managed to take some points in the four meetings (including an Open Cup play-in). Seattle has scored eight goals in the series.
Sounders FC 2, Real Salt Lake 0 – March 28, 2009 – Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field
Kasey Keller earned his second straight clean sheet and Seattle parlayed timely goals both early and late to earn another three points. Nate Jaqua continued his run of success against RSL by scoring in the 17th minute after a penetrating run by Steve Zakuani. Keller made five saves to earn MLS Player of the Week, with the biggest test coming on a breakaway attempt by Salt Lake’s Yura Movsisyan. The visitors out-shot Seattle 10-4 in the second half, and also earned 10 corners after halftime. Fredy Montero’s third goal of the season, a dipping drive from long distance, provided insurance in the 77th minute. It came against the run of play, with Montero running onto Osvaldo Alonso’s pass and striking over Rimando from 28 yards. Freddie Ljungberg came on in the 61st minute for his MLS debut.
Sounders FC 4, Real Salt Lake 1 (Open Cup Play-In) – April 28, 2009 – Starfire Sports Stadium
Sebastien Le Toux scored two goals and assisted on two others as Seattle won its play-in opener. Le Toux put Sounders FC ahead early, scoring from the penalty spot in the 24th minute after Roger Levesque was pulled down in the box. Le Toux then assisted on a goal by Sanna Nyassi to make it 2-0 in the 26th minute. Will Johnson pulled Real Salt Lake a goal back in the 32nd minute. From there the Sounders FC pulled away with two quick second-half strikes. Stephen King made one-touch finish off a square ball from Le Toux in the 53rd minute. Two minutes later, Levesque out-ran an RSL defender before crossing to Le Toux at the left post. Levesque assisted on Seattle’s final three goals.
Sounders FC 0, Real Salt Lake 1 – August 8, 2009 – Rio Tinto Stadium
Robbie Findley scored the game’s only in the 62nd minute as the Sounders FC winless string reached three games. The game’s only goal resulted from some quick thinking by RSL keeper Nick Rimando. Following a Seattle offside call, Rimando set the ball down and drove a long kick over the Sounders FC defense and into the path of Findley. Shielding Peter Vagenas, Findley proceeded toward the box and beat Keller low from 18 yards. Moments before the final whistle, a shot by Fredy Montero deflected off the left hand of Salt Lake’s Pablo Campos in the goalmouth without a penalty being called. Despite earning 11 corner kicks, the Sounders FC was held scoreless for the third match in a row.
Sounders FC 2, Real Salt Lake 2 – April 10, 2010 – Rio Tinto Stadium
Steve Zakuani staked the visitors to an early lead but the MLS Cup holders drew level in the dying seconds of stoppage time. Seattle twice took the lead. Zakuani put Seattle up early with a goal in the 11th minute, taking a feed from Fredy Montero and shooting past an approaching Nick Rimando near the top of the box. Will Johnson equalized for RSL in the 53rd minute on a diving header past Kasey Keller. Freddie Ljungberg helped reclaim a 2-1 lead for Sounders FC in the 71st minute. Ljungberg curled an inswinging free kick which Tyrone Marshall headed home. Urged on by a near capacity crowd of 19,970, Real Salt Lake tied it in the fourth minute of added time. Alvaro Saborio scored a header off Nelson Gonzalez’s corner kick. RSL finished with a 9-2 advantage in shots and 11-2 on corners.
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)
45,631 July 18, 2010 Seattle v Celtic (friendly)
40,122 May 26, 2010 Seattle v Boca Juniors (friendly)
36,386 August 28, 2010 Seattle v Chicago
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
*46,011 November 22, 2009 MLS Cup (Real Salt Lake v L.A.)
Fans: Opportunity Knocks
Sounders FC fans have filled the stadium to capacity for 28 consecutive MLS matches. Tickets are available for the final two CONCACAF Champions League home matches, September 29 versus CD Marathon of Honduras and October 19 versus CD Saprissa of Costa Rica. Open Cup Final tickets go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m. and the on-sale date for the Chivas de Guadalajara friendly is September 13. Deposits of $50 per seat are also being taken for new 2011 season ticket memberships. For tickets to Sounders FC home matches, call 1-877-MLS-GOAL or visit www.SoundersFC.com
Sounders FC Roster
The following players are currently training with Sounders FC: Goalkeepers (3): Terry Boss, Jordan Jennings*, 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, Alvaro Fernandez, Sanna Nyassi, Michael Seamon, Nathan Sturgis, Peter Vagenas; Forwards (9): Mike Fucito, Blaise Nkufo, Nate Jaqua, Roger Levesque, Miguel Montano, Fredy Montero, Pat Noonan, Ty Perdido*, Steve Zakuani.
Alvaro Fernandez earned his first MLS assist at New England…Roger Levesque’s assist on the third goal of the semifinal was his fourth in nine Open Cup-related matches for Sounders FC. He had two goals and three assists in 2009…Arlo White, the voice of Sounders FC, will call Sunday’s NFL opener at Qwest Field between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers for BBC Radio. White has called five Super Bowls for the BBC…The current three-game home win streak is a club record…Seattle is 3-0-2 in its last five meetings with Western Conference opponents after starting off 0-4-3…Prior to New England, the three quickest opponent goals came in a span of 29 minutes at Philadelphia. That was also the only other occasion this season that Seattle failed to earn a point after taking the lead…The total of 32 points after 23 games is one point behind the 2009 team (8-6-9) at the same stage.