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

October 12, 2010 at 12:44 PM

Sounders FC weekly release of team news and notes

A Time to Celebrate, Then Move Forward

With its playoff ticket punched and its trophy haul now doubled, the Seattle Sounders FC comes home to celebrate and then quickly begin setting-up a run at an even bigger prize.

The Rave Green’s next three matches are at home, beginning Tuesday night at 7 p.m. PT, when Mexico’s most popular team, CD Chivas de Guadalajara, visits for a friendly on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field. TeleFutura and Fox Sports Northwest will televise the game live.

Friday is Fan Appreciation night as Sounders FC hosts its final home MLS regular season contest against Chivas USA at 8 p.m. PT. It will be seen nationwide on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.

Finally, the group stage of CONCACAF Champions League play concludes on October 19 when CD Saprissa of Costa Rica meets Seattle at 7 p.m. PT on Fox Soccer Channel. All three games will be broadcast on KIRO 97.3 FM. Tuesday’s match is available on Homero 1210 AM.

The home stand affords an opportunity for the Sounders FC to bask briefly in the spotlight following some remarkable achievements. Last week it accomplished two major feats: Seattle became the first team in 27 years to repeat as Lamar Hunt U.S. open Cup champions and, four days later, it clinched a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs for the second year in a row.

Of course, the supporters have set standards in their own right. They came out in droves for the Open Cup final, smashing the previous attendance record for the 97-year-old tournament. And on Friday the fans will put the finishing touches on the new MLS season attendance standard, breaking the mark they set just a year ago.

It’s possible that the biggest crowd of the season will be on hand for Chivas de Guadalajara and another full house-make it 31 in a row-is assured for Friday, when the Rave Green goes for a record-breaking fifth straight league win.

The hottest team in America, Sounders FC (13-9-6, 45 points) has won four consecutive matches after beating Kansas City, 2-1, on the road last week, and it is undefeated (7-0-2) at home in nine MLS and Open Cup matches since June 10.

Chivas USA (8-14-5, 28 points) snapped a three-game losing string with a 3-0 home victory over Toronto FC, but fallen on hard times after qualifying for playoffs four straight years. However, the Red and White have yet to yield a goal to Seattle in four regular season meetings and lead the series 2-0-2. Sounders FC did beat Chivas USA, 3-1, the semifinal round of the Open Cup.

Saprissa comes to Seattle knowing that a win will assure the Purple Monster of advancing to the Champions League quarterfinals. By winning, Sounders FC could conceivably finish third in Group C. Following the home stand the regular season ends at Houston on August 23.

Upcoming Competition Schedule (All times Pacific):

Tuesday, October 12, 7 p.m. – CD Chivas de Guadalajara, Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, Seattle (Friendly C)

Friday, October 15, 8 p.m. – Chivas USA, Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, Seattle

Tuesday, October 19, 7 p.m. – CD Saprissa, Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, Seattle (CONCACAF Champions League group stage/round six)

Saturday, October 23, 1 p.m. – at Houston Dynamo, Robertson Stadium, Houston

Sounders FC Factoids

— Sounders FC is 12-1-3 in its last 16 domestic (MLS and Open Cup) matches; 9-1-3 in MLS

— With 45 points through 28 matches Seattle is four points ahead of the 2009 pace (10-7-11, 41 points) and it is four wins above .500 for the first time this season

— Seattle is unbeaten in its last nine (7-0-2) at home in MLS (4-0-2) and Open Cup (3-0-0) play

— Sanna Nyassi has scored in each of his last two MLS matches, and has four goals in the last three in all competitions

— Blaise Nkufo has scored five goals in the last four matches, including two game-winners, and Seattle is 8-0-1 in his nine starts

— Fredy Montero has 12 goals (six game-winners) and 10 assists in all competitions. He is one of two players to rank among MLS top ten in both goals (10) and assists (9).

— The 13 wins is one more than 2009 total and the 11 shutouts surpasses the 10 earned last year

— Kasey Keller has played in 53 consecutive MLS matches, dating to April 25, 2009

— Seventeen of the team’s 36 goals have been scored either in the first or last 15 minutes

— Eleven of the 32 goals allowed have come in the final 15 minutes

— Sounders FC is 11-2-3 when scoring first and 1-6-2 when allowing two or more goals

— Nine of the 13 MLS victories have been shutouts and in the 18 wins (18-13-8) over all competitions the average goals allowed is 0.39

— Seattle is tied for second in road wins (6) and has posted five shutouts in its last seven away

Get Your Tickets

Sounders FC fans have filled the stadium to capacity for 30 consecutive MLS matches, and deposits of $50 per seat are now being taken for new 2011 season tickets. Playoff tickets go on sale to the public on October 21 at 10 a.m. PT.

Tickets are still available for the Chivas de Guadalajara and Saprissa matches at www.SoundersFC.com, by calling 800-745-3000, or at all Ticketmaster outlets and the Qwest Field Box office.

Chivas de Guadalajara Update

CD Chivas de Guadalajara arrived in Seattle on Sunday and will hold a press conference with Jose Luis Real on Monday at 6 p.m. PT, prior to its training session at Qwest Field. Chivas Guadalajara, an 11-time champion, was the 2010 Copa Libertadores runner-up.

The Chivas travel roster: Goalkeepers (2): Luis Michel, Hugo Hernandez. Defenders (8): Hector Reynoso, Mario De Luna, Edgar Mejia, Miguel Ponce, Omar Esparza, Christian Perez, Patricio Araujo, Juan Ocampo. Midfielders (6): Xavier Baez, Dionicio Escalante, Jorge Enriquez, Marco Fabian, Ulises Davila, Sergio Avila. Forwards (6): Omar Arellano, Omar Bravo, Adolfo Bautista, Michel Vazquez, Jesus Sanchez, Alberto Medina.

Sanchez scored in Saturday’s 2-2 road draw at Queretaro. Araujo and Esparza both played in Seattle for the Mexico National Team’s 1-0 friendly win over China in 2008. That match attracted 56,416 fans. Like Sounders FC, Chivas plays its home matches on artificial turf.

Champions League: Adios y Hola

No sooner did Sounders FC exit the Champions League did it book the first ticket to the 2011-12 tournament. CONCACAF announced last week that Seattle’s 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew in the Open Cup final secured a berth in the next edition of the Champions League. The club had qualified for this year’s preliminary round by virtue of winning the 2009 Open Cup. Still to be decided are the other U.S. representatives in the 2011-12 tourney. Typically the MLS Cup Champion and Supporters Shield winners take two of the four spots allotted to America.

Seattle became the first club in 27 years to successfully retain the Open Cup. The 2-1 victory over Columbus earned a berth in the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League, which the club followed with another 2-1 win at Kansas City, clinching a place in the playoffs in Kansas for the second year in a row.

A Second-Half Team

Without question, the best team over the second half of the regular season has been Sounders FC. Since finishing the first half at 4-8-3, Seattle has taken 30 of a possible 39 points in the next 13 matches, going 9-1-3. Seven of the wins have been by a single goal, including game-winners in the final minutes against D.C. United and Chicago (twice). Five times the Rave Green came from behind or scored the winning goal in the second half.

The finish by Sounders FC is comparable to the sensational start by the L.A. Galaxy, which was 11-1-3 at the halfway stage. Over the second half of the season Seattle has totaled five more points than FC Dallas (6-0-7), which is unbeaten in a league-record 19 games, and eight more than defending champion Real Salt Lake (5-1-7). It has taken 16 of a possible 21 points in its last seven MLS road matches, going 5-1-1 and allowing just four goals.

After a July 4 loss at L.A., Seattle was seventh in the Western Conference and 11th overall in MLS. It is now tied fourth in the West and sixth overall.

Making History

On a truly momentous night, Sounders FC and its supporters made history in the U.S. Open Cup on October 5. Backed by a record crowd of 31,311 in full voice, Seattle came from a goal down to lift the cup for the second year in a row. The attendance shattered the previous best for a final; 21,583 watched the 1929 second leg between New York Hakoah and Madison Kennel Club of St. Louis at Brooklyn’s Dexter Park. The tournament’s modern era record crowd was 19,164 for the 2000 final between the Chicago Fire and Miami Fusion.

Sounders FC was the first Open Cup repeat champion since 1982-83, when the New York Pancyprian Freedoms won back-to-back. Only the New York Greek-American club has captured three straight (1967-69).

Another Week, Another Hero

There’s no shortage of players who have been in a position to be called heroes. In the beginning of the turnaround it might have been Osvaldo Alonso, whose return to midfield gave Seattle tenacity in the middle of the park. Then there were the scoring exploits of Fredy Montero, Steve Zakuani and Blaise Nkufo, and the shot-stopping of Kasey Keller. Now the hero mantle is being worn by Sanna Nyassi. The 21-year-old right winger has become Mr. October, banging in a brace in the Open Cup final, then adding his second MLS goal in as many matches at KC. The first player in the MLS era to score multiple goals in the championship game, Nyassi was voted the final’s outstanding player by TheCup.us.

All the Right Moves

Once again last week Sigi Schmid exhibited the Midas touch in managing his substitutes against the Wizards. Seconds after Schmid inserted him into the team, Nate Jaqua worked a quick give-and-go with Nyassi to set-up the game’s first goal in the 66th minute. Jaqua figured in the scoring again a few minutes later. Four minutes into Alvaro Fernandez’s relief role he took a short ball from Jaqua at the top of the box, beat one defender and then the keeper for a 2-nil lead.

It was only the second multi-assist game in Jaqua’s career, the fifth in club history and the first by a substitute.

Back in July, when the club’s fortunes began to rise, it was timely substitutions which did the trick. Nyassi came off the bench in the 88th minute at D.C. United to set in motion the game-winning goal. In the first Champions League fixture, Fredy Montero scored less than a minute after stepping onto the pitch against Metapan. Advancement to the group stage was secured when Fernandez scored nine minutes into his substitute appearance in El Salvador.

Five and ‘O’ in October

Seattle has now won all five of its regular season games played in October, and Schmid has a career mark of 12-6-2 for the month. He’s 10-2-2 in October playoffs. In its inaugural campaign Sounders FC won its final three regular season matches, clinching a postseason spot with a game to go. This time it did so with two matches to spare.

Serious Consideration

It’s election season all over the land and there’s certainly a strong case for selecting some Sounders FC personnel. Fredy Montero has shouldered the offensive load for much of the year and is one of two players to rank among the top 10 in both goals and assists. Last week MLSsoccer.com named the young Colombian forward the best player ages 24 and under. Steve Zakuani, who has more than doubled the scoring statistics of his rookie season, was No. 4 on the 24under24 list. The Rave Green is 10-3-6 when Osvaldo Alonso plays more than 45 minutes, evidence that his ball-winning and energy fuels success.

Schmid and his staff have done a remarkable job of retooling the squad on the run. Despite losing four projected starters for 13 games or more, Sounders FC has become just the second team in MLS history to post winning records and make the playoffs in each of its first two seasons. Schmid was the MLS Coach of the Year in 1999 and again in 2008.

Steps to Better Performance

The reversal of fortune first began with sealing defensive leaks.During the first half of the season Sounders FC allowed 1.53 goals per game. Over the second half of the season the defense has a GAA of 0.69 goals (nine in 13 games) with seven shutouts. The 11 total shutouts is one more than the entire 2009 season. Since July 11 the back four of James Riley, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke and Leo Gonzalez has started together eight times. Goalkeeper Kasey Keller has started 53 consecutive games and has 21 shutouts in 57 career appearances.

In the middle of the park, Sounders FC has found both stability and energy. Osvaldo Alonso and Nathan Sturgis have started together 10 of the last 11 matches, the sole exception being the September 4 loss at New England. Sanna Nyassi was installed as the regular on the right beginning July 25 and initially provided increased speed and defense on the flank, and has now emerged as a scoring threat.

Up front, Fredy Montero has found a complimentary partner in Blaise Nkufo. In Nkufo’s nine starts he has scored five goals and Seattle is 8-0-1.

Playoff Race Breakdown

With two weeks left in the regular season, only one berth remains up for grabs in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Los Angeles (56), Real Salt Lake (52 points), FC Dallas (50), New York (48), Columbus (46), Seattle (45) and San Jose (43) and have clinched spots. Colorado (42) has the inside track to the eighth and final spot, with only Kansas City (33) is still mathematically alive. Sounders FC, the Earthquakes and Rapids are jockeying for seeding in the West, with the fifth- and sixth-place teams swinging to the East bracket. Colorado needs one more point to clinch. The Quakes have a game in hand on Seattle and Colorado.

Seattle (45 points): Chivas USA (10/15), at Houston (10/23)

San Jose (43 points): Houston (10/16), Chivas USA (10/20), at Kansas City (10/23)

Colorado (42 points): Los Angeles (10/16), Real Salt Lake (10/23)

Kansas City (33 points): at Chicago (10/12), at New England (10/16), San Jose

It’s In the Cards

While one player moved away from the precipice, two others moved toward it. Right back James Riley avoided a fifth yellow card for the third straight game at Kansas City, earning a one-card deduction from MLS. Meanwhile, Fredy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso were cautioned for the fourth time. A fifth yellow card results in a one-game suspension.

Comings & Goings

Terry Boss crisscrossed the continent twice last week while joining and re-joining the Puerto Rico National Team for first round Caribbean Championship games. With Boss in goal Puerto Rico won Group A with a perfect 3-0-0 record and next plays Guadaloupe on October 20. In between the second and third matches, Boss returned to Seattle for the Open Cup final. Following the third fixture he me the team in Kansas City.

Sanna Nyassi’s call in to the Gambia National team was aborted after he experienced difficulties in the visa process. Gambia lost to Burkina Faso, 3-1, last Saturday in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

Riley Named Humanitarian of the Month

James Riley has been named MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Month for October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Since turning pro in 2005, Riley has worked to help fight breast cancer, first with the Breast Cancer Foundation in Boston and now with the Puget Sound Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. He has promoted the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in the Seattle area, showing up amidst a downpour to help at the race this past June. In Riley’s communications with people, he encourages people to get screened, but also talks to kids about making sure their parents get screened. His mother, Chong Horton, was diagnosed early and now is fully recovered. Riley is Seattle’s second Humanitarian of the Month in 2010. Sanna Nyassi was honored in April for his work in the fight against malaria.

Last MLS Match: Sounders FC 2, Kansas City Wizards 1 – October 9, 2010 – Recap

Sanna Nyassi and Alvaro Fernandez scored 12 minutes apart as Sounders FC clinched a playoff berth for the second year in a row at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.

Nyassi scored in the 66th minute when Nate Jaqua, who entered the match just one minute earlier, played him into the box. Nyassi’s initial shot was stopped by keeper Jimmy Nielson but he knocked the rebound into the back of the net from a narrow angle on the left.

It was Nyassi’s second MLS goal in as many games and his fourth goal in three competitive matches over eight days. He had scored twice in the U.S. Open Cup final.

Four minutes after coming on as a substitute, Fernandez connected on what proved to be the game-winner in the 78th minute. Following a short pass from Jaqua, Fernandez juked a defender, then rolled a left-footed shot under Nielson for his second MLS goal.

Kansas City, which lost its third in a row, scored on a penalty kick in the 84th minute. Seattle defender Jeff Parke was whistled for tripping the Wizards’ Teal Bunbury in the box and Davy Arnaud stepped up and beat Kasey Keller to the left corner.

The Wizards saw a pair of chances hit the crossbar. In the 35th minute, Ryan Smith found Bunbury at the far post but his header hit the top of the crossbar and Kei Kamara’s sliding attempt in the first minute of second-half stoppage time hit the right post.

Kansas City held a commanding 18-8 advantage in shots, but the teams were equal with three attempts on goal.

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final: Sounders FC 2, Columbus Crew 1 – October 5, 2010

Sanna Nyassi scored twice as Seattle came from behind to win its second straight title before a record crowd. A winner over D.C. United in 2009, Sounders FC is the first club in 27 years to successfully retain the Cup since the New York Pancyprian Freedoms won back-to-back in 1982-83.

After tying the game in the 38th minute, Nyassi scored the game-winner in the 66th minute. Steve Zakuani’s header from a Fredy Montero cross caromed off the crossbar and Nyassi crashed home the rebound from 8 yards. Nyassi, a 21-year-old winger, had scored his first career MLS goal in Saturday’s win over Toronto FC.

Columbus took the lead on a goal by Kevin Burns in the 24th minute. Frankie Hejduk got behind the Seattle backline and sent a cross to Steven Lenhart who dropped a pass to Burns in the middle of the box. Burns’ left-footed shot beat Kasey Keller inside the far post.

Nyassi scored the equalizer for Sounders FC with seven minutes left in the first half. After Crew keeper Andy Gruenebaum came off this line to punch away a Tyson Wahl cross, the ball bounced off Seattle’s Nathan Sturgis and Columbus forward Guillermo Barros Schelotto before rolling to Nyassi, who turned and fired a right-footed shot from 18 yards.

Columbus nearly tied the match in the closing minutes when Robbie Rogers’ 8-yard drive hit the underside of the crossbar.

Both teams finished with 10 shots, however Seattle had a 5-1 advantage of attempts on goal. Gruenebaum made three saves. Sounders FC also had a 6-2 edge in corner kicks.

Seattle is undefeated (9-0-1) in 10 Open Cup-related matches. It used 22 players in four cup ties this season.

Target Accomplished: 1.5 Points

It’s been the target all along. Sigi Schmid has told anyone who will listen that 1.5 points per game would push Seattle into the playoffs. After a very slow start, Sounders FC has not only met that standard but surpassed it. With four consecutive wins it is now averaging 1.61 points through 28 games. Forty-five points is the objective and Schmid’s team has met that with two fixtures remaining. Seattle totaled 47 points (12-7-11) to become the first MLS expansion team in 11 years to make the playoffs in 2009.

In the first 14 years of MLS, only one team has hit 45 points (Kansas City in 2005) and 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.

Goals Galore

After going more than 17 months between goals, suddenly the floodgates have opened for Sanna Nyassi. The Gambian winger’s first competitive goal was scored on April 28, 2009, in an Open Cup play-in match against Real Salt Lake. The next time he tested the twine was October 2, 2010 when he hit the game-winner and his first MLS goal against Toronto FC. Three days later came his first multi-goal game in the cup final, and four days after that he struck again at Kansas City. Three of the last week’s four goals came off his left foot.

Another Attendance Record to Fall

In 2009 Sounders FC fans established an MLS record (30,943) for average season attendance and to date there have been 30 consecutive sellouts of MLS matches. Seattle is averaging 36,160 this season and has already surpassed (506,244) last year’s total attendance (464,145) for league matches with one date still to play.

The top 10 home season attendance averages are as follows:

2009/Seattle Sounders FC/30,943

1996/Los Angeles Galaxy/28,916

2008/Los Angeles Galaxy/26,009

2007/Los Angeles Galaxy/24,252

2005/Los Angeles Galaxy/24,204

1996/MetroStars/23,898

2004/Los Angeles Galaxy/23,809

1997/New England Revolution/21,423

1998/Los Angeles Galaxy/21,784

2001/D.C. United/21,518

Expansion Teams: Year Two

Sounders FC became the first expansion team since 1998 to reach the playoffs. Chicago and Miami both qualified in their inaugural seasons, and each team had two fewer wins the following year. Chicago, Miami and Chivas USA made the playoffs in their second year of play.

Shooting for Third

Sounders FC still has a shot at taking third place in Group C of the Champions League when it hosts Costa Rica’s CD Saprissa in the sixth and final round on October 19. Seattle was eliminated from contention for next spring’s knockout round by Saprissa’s 2-2 draw with group leader Monterrey on September 28. Unbeaten (4-0-1) Monterrey has clinched first place with 13 points. Saprissa (2-2-1) has seven, followed by CD Marathon (2-3-0, 6 points) and Sounders FC (1-4-1, 3 points).

With a win next week Saprissa advances. However a draw or loss gives Marathon the opportunity to move into second with a victory over group winner Monterrey on October 20.

Three teams had to play three of their first four CCL fixtures on the road: Seattle, Toronto FC and Santos of Mexico. Both the Sounders FC and Reds have been eliminated; Santos leads Group B but has yet to clinch advancement.

42 Matches & Counting

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 prior to the MLS Cup Playoffs. It played 38, including playoffs, in 2009. Columbus, which is also active in the CCL and Open Cup, will also play 42 competitive matches.

Sounders FC traveled nearly 18,000 miles for five matches in MLS and Champions League play in September and flies nearly 50,000 miles to its MLS matches this season. Added to that have been long flights to El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and Mexico.

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 18), Osvaldo Alonso (seven games), Pat Noonan (the the last 11) and Brad Evans (the last 15). 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 28matches. Kasey Keller is the only player to start each fixture and he is the leader in minutes (2475). Fredy Montero is the only outfield player with 28 appearances. Already Sigi Schmid has used 28 different players in MLS matches, compared to 22 in all of the inaugural season. Three players-Hurtado, Noonan and Peter Vagenas-are on the MLS disabled list.

Among the Leaders

Seattle leads the league in fouls suffered (344) and corner kicks (165). It is third in assists (38) and sixth in goals (36). Fredy Montero has taken 87 shots (T-2nd) with 34 on goal (T-5th). His four game-winning goals is tied for fourth. He has committed 42 fouls (T-4th) and suffered 59 (4th). Kasey Keller is now tied-third amongst goalkeepers with 13 wins. Keller’s 11 shutouts is tied-second and he is fourth with 77 saves.

Last Meeting: Sounders FC 3, Chivas USA 1 – September 1, 2010 – Recap

Nate Jaqua scored two goals and Steve Zakuani had two assists as Sounders FC beat Chivas USA in a semifinal match at Starfire Sports Stadium. Fredy Montero scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 58th minute in front of a capacity crowd of 4,547. It was the first win over Chivas USA in competitive play.

Jaqua staked Seattle to an early lead with a goal in the 11th minute. A Montero pass put Zakuani behind the Chivas USA defense on the left flank and he cut to the end line. Zakuani’s cross met Jaqua in front of goal for a one-touch shot that beat keeper Zach Thornton.

It was the first time Sounders FC scored against Chivas USA. It was scoreless in four previous MLS matches.

The second Seattle goal was also created by Zakuani, who juked his defender and drove the ball low across the middle. Montero tapped it past Thornton from 6 yards out for his 12th goal in all competitions.

Chivas USA pulled a goal back in the 68th minute when second-half substitute Jesus Padilla converted on an assist from Justin Braun.

In stoppage time Jaqua cemented the victory with his second goal of the game and fifth of the tournament. Roger Levesque, who entered the match as a substitute in the 82nd minute, served a cross from the right flank that Jaqua headed home past Thornton.

About Chivas USA

Chivas USA has been eliminated from playoff contention, sitting in seventh place in the Western Conference with 28 points from 27 games. Its eight wins are the fewest since its inaugural season of 2005. The Red and White’s are winless in its last five road games (0-4-1) and is 2-9-2 overall away. Chivas snapped a three-game losing streak on Saturday when it defeated Toronto FC at home, 3-0. Rodolfo Espinoza scored and assisted and Jorge Flores and Jesus Padilla both added goals, although two of the three goals came when Toronto was playing with 10 men. Prior to the three-goal output, the offense had scored just once in its last three games and had not won a league match since September 10. The club ranks near the bottom of the league in nearly all offensive categories, including goals (14th with 29), assists (T-13th with 25), shots (13th with 279), shots on goal (15th with 104) and corner kicks (15th with 100). The defense allows 1.33 goals per game (12th). Friday will be the first meeting between the two clubs since Seattle won, 3-1, in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal match on September 1.

Goats Notables

Justin Braun leads the offense with nine goals and three assists. He ranks in the MLS top 10 in shots (57) and shots on goal (25). Jesus Padilla has added five goals and Blair Gavin has three. Newly signed midfielder Rodolfo Espinoza has started 11 of 12 appearances with one goal and two assists. Rookie Ben Zemanski has 16 starts in his 21 appearances. After a midseason trade, forward Alan Gordon has started eight of nine appearances and has recorded a team-high three assists. Gordon has scored or assisted in the last two games. Goalkeeper Zach Thornton has started 21 games with a goals against average of 1.32 and six shutouts.

SEA/CHV Connections

Steve Zakuani (2007-08) played alongside Chivas USA rookies Ben Zemanski (2006-09) and Blair Gavin (2007-09) at the University of Akron. Patrick Ianni was teammates with Jonathan Bornstein at UCLA from 2004-05. Seattle’s Leo Gonzalez and Chivas’ Dario Delgado and Michael Umana hail from Costa Rica. Forward Alan Gordon played collegiately at Oregon State from 2002-03. Kevin Guppy joined Seattle as the emergency goalkeeper on October 2. James Riley (2001-04) and Michael Lahoud (2004-08) both played at Wake Forest University.

Previous Sounders FC-Chivas USA Meetings

Sounders FC 0, Chivas USA 2 – April 18, 2009 – The Home Depot Center

Sounders FC could not convert a number of early chances into goals and then paid for some costly mistakes. An own goal by James Riley in the first half was coupled with a late breakthrough by Chukwudi Chijindu. The hosts capitalized on their first opportunity. Jonathan Bornstein controlled the ball near the left post and crossed it into the crease. Riley inadvertently redirected it past keeper Chris Eylander in the 32nd minute. With the Sounders FC pressing forward in the final minutes, Bojan Stepanovic’s cross put Chijindu clear to beat Eylander in the 84th. Sounders FC finished with an 11-6 edge in shots. Eylander made his first MLS start in place of Kasey Keller, serving a suspension for his red card one week earlier.

Sounders FC 0, Chivas USA 1 – June 6, 2009 – The Home Depot Center

Seattle’s unbeaten streak of six games ended despite controlling possession for much of the game and finishing with superior totals in almost every offensive category. Chivas USA got the sole goal of the game from Eduardo Lillingston late in the first half. In the 38th minute, from the left side of the box Maykel Galindo found Paulo Nagamura, whose low near-post shot was parried by Kasey Keller. But the ball fell to Lillingston and he knocked it straight in for the score. The best Seattle opportunity was in the 68th minute when Freddie Ljungberg’s free kick set-up a Jhon Kennedy Hurtado header that skipped over the bar. Seattle finished the game down a man for the fifth time as Nate Jaqua was sent off in the 88th minute with his second yellow card.

Sounders FC 0, Chivas USA 0 – September 19, 2009 – Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field

Held scoreless for the fourth consecutive match at home, Seattle was forced to settle for a draw as Zach Thornton made six saves for his third shutout against Sounders FC. Nine of Seattle’s 12 shots came in the second half, beginning with a Steve Zakuani header which was stopped by a leaping Thornton. It was a physical match with eight cards issued, including a red card to Chivas USA’s Marcelona Saragosa in the 71st minute of the match. Seattle outshot Chivas USA 12-4 and also finished with a 10-3 advantage in corner kicks.

Sounders FC 0, Chivas USA 0 – August 14, 2010 – The Home Depot Center

Kasey Keller earned his eighth shutout of the season as Seattle extended its unbeaten streak to six league matches with a road draw.Keller kept a clean sheet with three saves. The first scoreless draw of the season featured a header off the right post by Sanna Nyassi in the 62nd minute and a diving save by Zach Thornton to deny Fredy Montero on a free kick in the 70th. Shortly before the final whistle Leo Gonzalez and Mariano Trujillo of Chivas USA were shown red cards following a scuffle near the sideline.

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.)

Last Meeting: Sounders FC 0, CS Saprissa 2 – September 14, 2010 – Recap

Down to 10 men for the entire second half, Sounders FC surrendered two second half goals and was unable to capitalize on a penalty kick in losing its third straight in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa.

Seattle’s Leo Gonzalez, a native of San Jose, was issued a red card in the 38th minute for a high kick foul Saprissa’s Jairo Arrieta while attempting to clear the ball. Prior to the sending off, Sounders FC had been the aggressor.

After a scoreless first half, Saprissa took advantage in the 56th minute when David Guzman took Fernando Paniagua’s pass and shot inside the far post past Terry Boss for the 1-0 lead.

It was Boss’ second competitive start for Seattle, having debuted in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal against L.A. on July 7.

Seattle had a chance to equalize in the 67th minute after Fredy Montero was tripped inside the box by Saprissa defender Gabriel Badilla. Osvaldo Alonso took the penalty, but Fausto Gonzalez dived to his right and saved the midfielder’s shot.

Saprissa secured the win on a counterattack in the 82nd minute, as Josue Martinez found forward Allan Aleman who slipped the ball past Boss for the 2-0 advantage.

The Purple Monster finished with a 10-5 advantage in shots and 6-3 in corners. Seattle committed 19 fouls to Saprissa’s 12. Roger Levesque, Alvaro Fernandez, Tyson Wahl and Boss were each issued yellow cards.

Champions League Group C

Sounders FC is among four MLS teams competing in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League. The top two teams in each four-team group advance to the knockout rounds in early 2011. Real Salt Lake, Columbus Crew and Toronto FC are the other MLS teams in contention. The L.A. Galaxy was eliminated in the preliminary round.

Group C consists of Seattle, Monterrey (Mexico), Saprissa (Costa Rica) and Marathon (Honduras). Sounders FC eliminated Isidro Metapan (El Salvador), 2-1 on aggregate, in the preliminary round while Marathon defeated Tauro (Panama), 4-2 on aggregate. The schedule for Group C (home teams listed first):

Round One

Tuesday, August 17

Monterrey (MEX) 1 vs. Saprissa (CRC) 0

Thursday, August 19

Marathon (HON) 2 vs. Seattle Sounders FC (USA) 0

Round Two

Wednesday, August 25

Seattle Sounders FC (USA) 0 vs. Monterrey (MEX) 2

Thursday, August 26

Saprissa (CRC) 4 vs. Marathon (HON) 1

Round Three

Tuesday, September 14

Monterrey (MEX) 2 vs. Marathon (HON) 0, 5 p.m. PT

Saprissa (CRC) 2 vs. Seattle Sounders FC (USA) 0

Round Four

Wednesday, September 22

Monterrey (MEX) 3 vs. Seattle Sounders FC (USA) 2

Marathon (HON) 2 vs. Saprissa (CRC) 1

Round Five

Tuesday, September 28

Saprissa (CRC) 2 vs. Monterrey (MEX) 2

Wednesday, September 29

Seattle Sounders FC (USA) 2 vs. Marathon (HON) 0

Round Six

Tuesday, October 19

Seattle Sounders FC (USA) vs. Saprissa (CRC), 7 p.m. PT

Wednesday, October 20

Marathon (HON) vs. Monterrey (MEX), 7 p.m. PT

About Saprissa (Courtesy of CONCACAF)

Club: Deportivo Saprissa

Founded: 1935

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)

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. Roy Myers, who has been capped 45 times and played in the 1990 World Cup for Costa Rica, is the manager. Myers played in MLS for New York and Los Angeles, where his coach was Sigi Schmid. Former Costa Rican international defender Victor Cordero, who has been with Saprissa for 18 seasons, is the captain. Saprissa is 4-5-3 entering this week in the Costa Rica Primera Division. It plays at Perez Zeledon on Sunday.

Last CCL Match: Seattle Sounders FC 2, CD Marathon- September 29, 2010 – Recap

Mike Fucito scored both goals as Seattle earned its first win in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.

Fucito chased down a bouncing ball in the 21st minute and chested it through the Marathon backline. With just the keeper to beat, he blasted a left-footed shot from 16 yards inside the far post.

In the 68th minute, Fucito sent a curling free kick around the wall and into the top corner for his second goal of the game. Moments later, Fucito left the game after sustaining a right ankle sprain.

Fucito has four competitive goals for Sounders FC this season. At Monterrey on September 22, he scored Seattle’s second goal and his shot in the 27th minute led to an own goal.

Miguel Montano had a pair of shots in the 52nd minute. First, he stole the ball and shot from 8 yards, forcing a save from keeper Orlin Vallencillo. Seconds later, Montano rocketed a shot from outside the 18-yard box that hit Vallencillo and nearly rolled across the goal line.

Terry Boss earned his second shutout in his fourth competitive start.The two sides were even with 11 shots, but Seattle had seven on goal compared to two for Marathon.

Sounders FC Roster

The following players are currently training with Sounders FC: Goalkeepers (2): Terry Boss, 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.

* invitee

Throw-ins

Sigi Schmid has now started the same XI for the past four games, the longest such stretch this season…Seattle has now won four in a row twice this season…Sounders FC finished 10-5-1 against the Eastern Conference, winning the last four in a row. It is 3-0-3 in the last six against West members…Midfielder Alvaro Fernandez turns 25 on Monday, October 11…The Sounders FC Academy U17 teams host the U17 U.S. National Team on Friday in a closed-door friendly prior to the first team’s match with Chivas USA… Mike Fucito was back in the 18-man roster at Kansas City after missing the Toronto FC match and Open Cup final with an ankle sprain sustained against Marathon on September 29…Fernandez has scored two of the four goals provided by substitutes this season. He also scored in the waning minutes against Houston. Mike Fucito (Kansas City) and Fredy Montero (New York) are the other substitutes to score…Next Tuesday, October 19, marks the 13th anniversary of the Seattle SeaDogs winning the 1997 CISL championship, beating Houston, 7-1, to sweep the three-game series. Dick McCormick (now manager/head coach of the Sounders FC Academy teams) scored twice, Bill Crook (academy U16 assistant coach) got a goal and Brian Schmetzer (top assistant to Sigi Schmid) was the SeaDogs’ player/assistant coach…Steve Zakuani’s score versus Toronto FC was voted MLS Goal of the Week. Zakuani took Osvaldo Alonso’s through ball and cut around Stefan Frei before tapping it into the open net. It was Seattle’s second winner in three weeks and the sixth for the season…Zakuani, Nyassi and Montero will be at the Pacific Place Pro Shop for an autograph session on Saturday, October 16, beginning at 2 p.m. PT.

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