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

October 27, 2010 at 2:08 PM

Sounders FC weekly release of team news and notes

Seattle Meets Galaxy in Marquee Matchup

The curtain rises on a memorable marquee postseason matchup as the Seattle Sounders FC meetsthe star-studded Los Angeles Galaxy in a Western Conference Semifinal series of the 2010 MLS Cup Playoffs. The two-leg, aggregate goal series gets underway on Sunday at 5 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field.

The Galaxy will host the second leg on November 7 at 6 p.m. PT at the Home Depot Center. Both matches will be televised live on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.com.

It is a pairing which pits the winner of the Supporters’ Shield for the best MLS record against the winner of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Los Angeles bolted from the blocks, going 10-0-2 in its first 12 games, and finished with 59 points (18-7-5). The Galaxy features Landon Donovan, David Beckham and scoring leader Edson Buddle.

Seattle rebounded from a poor start and was the hottest team (10-2-3) in MLS over the second half, surpassing its inaugural season totals for victories at 14-10-6 and 48 points.

Good seats are still available for Sunday’s game by visiting www.SoundersFC.com or calling 877-MLS-GOAL. Seattle has sold out 31 consecutive MLS regular season and playoff matches.

The Rave Green’s surge began immediately after falling to L.A. for a second time, 3-1 at the HDC on July 4. Three days later, Sounders FC ousted the Galaxy from Open Cup quarterfinals, 2-nil, commencing a nine-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

Seattle won a club record five league games in a row (six games unbeaten) before falling at Houston, 2-1, in the regular season finale last week. L.A. came from behind to defeat FC Dallas, 2-1 at home, to clinch the Supporters’ Shield and top seed in the West.

The team that scores the most goals in the series advances to the single elimination Western Conference Championship. If the score is tied after 180 minutes, a 30-minute extra time period will be played, followed by kicks from the penalty spot, if necessary.

Defending MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake meets FC Dallas in the other Western Conference Semifinal. The team with the higher seed between the two Conference finalists will host the Conference Championship game on November 11, 13 or 14.

Los Angeles leads the MLS regular season series 2-1-1, including a 4-0 win in Seattle on May 8. The Galaxy was 9-3-3 on the road. The runner-up for MLS Cup 2009, the club seeks its third title.

Sounders FC qualified for the playoffs for the second year in a row and is the first team in 27 years to win back-to-back Open Cup championships. However, it was unable to score a goal in last year’s West semifinal series with Houston, drawing the first leg 0-0 and losing the second, 1-0, in extra time.

Sunday’s match can be heard live locally on 770 AM KTTH with Arlo White on the call. The pregame show begins at 6:30 p.m. PT with Matt Johnson, Alan Hinton, Pete Fewing and Jimmy Gabriel.

Upcoming Competition Schedule (All times Pacific)

Sunday, October 31, 5 p.m. – Sounders FC v Los Angeles, MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinal (First Leg), Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, Seattle

Sunday, November 7, 6 p.m. – Sounders FC at Los Angeles, MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinal (Second Leg), The Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.

Sounders FC Fast Facts

— Sounders FC is 13-2-3 in its last 18 domestic (MLS and Open Cup) matches; 10-2-3 in MLS

— Seattle is unbeaten in its last 10 (8-0-2) at home in MLS (5-0-2) and Open Cup (3-0-0) play

— With 48 points and 14 wins Seattle surpassed its totals for 2009

— Seattle shattered its own MLS season attendance record, averaging 36,173 for the regular season. It averaged 30,943 in 2009. There have been 31 consecutive sellouts

— A late season five-game win streak matched the longest in MLS this season (Real Salt Lake won five straight in May)

— Fredy Montero has 12 goals (six game-winners) and 11 assists in all competitions. He is one of two players to rank among MLS top ten in both goals (10) and assists (10)

— Blaise Nkufo has scored five goals in the last six matches, including two game-winners, and Seattle is 9-1-1 in his 11 starts

— Seattle finished with the league’s sixth-best record and lost the fewest games (17) in its first two years of any franchise in the 15-year history of MLS

— Goalkeeper Kasey Keller has played in 55 consecutive MLS matches, dating to April 25, 2009

— Sounders FC is 12-3-3 when scoring first and 1-7-2 when allowing two or more goals

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

— Nine of the 14 MLS victories have been shutouts and in the 19 wins (19-13-8) over all competitions the average goals allowed is 0.42

— 19 of the team’s 39 goals have been scored either in the first or last 15 minutes

— 12 of the 35 goals allowed have come in the final 15 minutes

Sounders FC to Celebrate Halloween Prior to Playoff Match

The Sounders FC will celebrate Halloween prior to the team’s home playoff match vs. the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday, October 31. The playoff match is presented by AT&T and Samsung Mobile. Gates open at 3:30 p.m. and the first kick is scheduled for 5 p.m.

Fans are invited to dress up and participate in a costume contest prior to the “March to the Match”. Judging for the costume contest will begin at 2:45 p.m. at Occidental Park. Fans will vote for their favorite costume with the top award winner receiving a trip for two people to the second leg of the series on November 7 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. The prize includes air, ground transportation, hotel and tickets to the match.

The team will create a soccer themed haunted house in the North Lot of Qwest Field. Fans must present their match day ticket for entry. The 40 x 40 structure will feature live characters guiding fans through a series of spook filled rooms.

The first 10,000 children will receive a bag courtesy of AT&T and Samsung Mobile to use for “trick or treating”. All Soccer Celebration activity booths will provide Halloween candy.

At 4:30 p.m. fans can participate in a 500 person performance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller in the North Plaza. For more information on tickets and match day activities visit www.SoundersFC.com.

Another Attendance Record Within Reach

A year ago, Sounders FC attracted a record attendance for a conference semifinal match, and a capacity crowd on Sunday could set the new standard. The throng of 35,807 for the 2009 first leg playoff with Houston ranks No. 8 among all MLS Cup Playoff matches.

The top seven attendances were all for MLS Cup Finals, including the 2009 game between Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake in Seattle. The highest attendance for a regular season game this season was the 36,386 for the August 28 win over Chicago.

Going into this week, over 30,000 tickets have been sold for Sunday’s game. Good seats are still available by visiting www.SoundersFC.com or calling 877-MLS-GOAL. Deposits of $50 per seat are now being taken for new 2011 season tickets.

The Unbeatable XI

You could call them the Invincibles. The lineup listed below has yet to drop a point, winning all seven MLS games they have started together. Sigi Schmid first named this XI for the 1-0 away win over San Jose on July 31. He fielded the same team for victories over, in order, Houston (2-0), Columbus (4-0), Chicago (1-0), Toronto (3-2), Kansas City (2-1) and Chivas USA (2-1).

Kasey Keller; James Riley, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez; Sanna Nyassi, Osvaldo Alonso, Nathan Sturgis, Steve Zakuani; Blaise Nkufo, Fredy Montero

The attack accumulated 15 goals in those seven wins. Nkufo scored five but the other 10 were scattered among six players (Montero, Nyassi, Zakuani and substitute Alvaro Fernandez with two each). A suspension for Montero forced Schmid to alter the lineup for the first time in six games at Houston.

Six of those starters are ages 25 and under. In fact the average of the midfield quartet-Nyassi (21), Alonso (24), Sturgis (23) and Zakuani (22)-is 22.5. The other starting members of the 25-and-under set are Montero (23) and Ianni (25).

Fortress: Foundation in Place

Backed by the loudest, most passionate fans in MLS, Sounders FC is fast fashioning a fortress between Brougham Way and King Street. Seattle is unbeaten in its last 10 (8-0-2) at home in MLS (5-0-2) and Open Cup (3-0-0) play, outscoring visitors 19-8 during that run. The only teams to earn points on Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field during the second half of the season were FC Dallas (1-1) and Real Salt Lake (0-0). The Rave Green is now 15-6-9 in all-time home regular season matches.

A Second-Half Team

Since finishing the first half of the MLS season at 4-8-3, Seattle has taken 33 of a possible 45 points in the final 15 matches, going 10-2-3. Sounders FC owns the sixth-highest point total in MLS after finishing the first 15 matches seventh in the Western Conference and 11th overall.

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 eight more points than FC Dallas (6-2-7), which went unbeaten in a league-record 19 straight games, and Real Salt Lake (6-2-7). It has taken 16 of a possible 24 points in its last eight MLS road matches, going 5-2-1 and has allowed just six goals.

Eight of the last 10 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.

Consideration for Best XI

Several Sounders FC players will rate highly in their peers’ ballots for MLS Best XI. Kasey Keller and Fredy Montero had been named to the MLS All-Stars back in July.

Montero carried much of the Rave Green’s offensive load through August, at one point earning either a goal or an assist in a league-best nine consecutive matches. Finishing with 10 goals and 10 assists, he is one of two players to rank among the top 10 in both categories.

Keller allowed only 0.80 goals per game (0.75 on the road) during the second half of the season, with seven shutouts. He has made 55 consecutive starts in goal.

Osvaldo Alonso is a tenacious ball-winner and energetic schemer in midfield who scored one goal and assisted on another in the final four games. Seattle is 11-4-5 when Alonso plays at least 45 minutes.

In his second year Steve Zakuani has blossomed into one of the premier wide players in MLS. He scored 10 goals and added six assists.

With Wingers They Fly

Speed merchants Steve Zakuani and Sanna Nyassi have tormented defenses throughout the month of October. The back four, which were once consumed with stopping the striker tandem of Blaise Nkufo and Fredy Montero, must now contend with not one but two wingers who are coming into their prime. Nyassi got his first two MLS goals this month and added a brace in the Open Cup final against Columbus. Zakuani contributed two goals and two assists in October, earning MLS player of the week once and goal of the week twice.

Tens & Twenties

Fredy Montero has broken into an exclusive group by scoring 10 goals and 10 assists. At 23 years and 3 months, Montero is the second-youngest player in the 15-year existence of MLS to finish with such a double-double. Ronald Cerritos (22 years, 9 months) scored 12 goals and 10 assists for San Jose in 1997. Although he has not scored since his brace against Chicago on August 28, Montero shared the team lead in goals with Steve Zakuani, and his 10 assists breaks the record set by Freddie Ljungberg last season. He ranks among the top five in both game-winning goals (4) and game-winning assists (4).

Montero and Zakuani are the fourth 10-goal duo under age 24, joining Landon Donovan-Herculez Gomez (Los Angeles, 2005), Taylor Twellman-Pat Noonan (New England, 2003) and Stern John-Jeff Cunningham (Columbus, 1999).

A Broad Base

After a long stretch in which Fredy Montero shouldered much of the offensive load, the attack has become much more balanced since August. Seven different players have scored goals during the last six games, including five midfielders. Montero scored (9) or assisted (7) on 16 of the 19 goals scored by Sounders FC from April 22 through August 28. His nine consecutive matches with either a goal or an assist from June 5 through August 8 was the longest in the league this season.

Plenty in Reserve

Besides a formidable XI, Sounders FC has used its Open Cup and Champions League runs to develop much-needed depth. Nate Jaqua was named the Player of the U.S. Open Cup after scoring five goals in four matches. Jaqua had three assists in the last three MLS games, and he scored the lone goal in last week’s CCL loss to Saprissa. Mike Fucito totaled three goals in the CCL and has four altogether in eight competitive appearances. Alvaro Fernandez has seen action in 21 matches in all competitions since his mid-summer transfer. The Uruguayan World Cup team member has three goals and three assists. Central defender Tyrone Marshall has a total of 26 appearances this season, including 21 starts (14 in MLS).

Ode to October

Seattle is 6-1-1 in regular season and playoff games played in October, and Coach Sigi Schmid has a career mark of 13-7-2 for the month. Schmid-coached clubs (Sounders FC and Columbus) are 8-1-1 in the last 10 MLS and Open Cup matches played in October, including MLS Cup Playoffs. Altogether his teams are 10-2-2 in October playoffs.

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 0.80 goals (12 in 15 games) with seven shutouts, and it has risen to eighth in MLS. The 11 total shutouts is one more than the 2009 season. Since July 11 the back four of James Riley, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke and Leo Gonzalez has started together 10 times. Goalkeeper Kasey Keller has started 55 consecutive games and has 21 shutouts in 59 career appearances.

In the middle of the park, Sounders FC has found both stability and energy. Osvaldo Alonso and Nathan Sturgis have started together 12 of the last 13 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 11 starts he has scored five goals and Seattle is 9-1-1.

A First: Sigi Meets Bruce in Postseason

Sigi Schmid and the Galaxy’s Bruce Arena rank 1-2 in MLS Cup Playoffs career wins, but this will be the first time their college or professional teams have met in the postseason. Schmid is the playoffs victory leader (19-8-5) and the only coach to guide two different teams (Los Angeles in 2002 and Columbus in 2008) to the MLS Cup Championship.

Arena (16-5-4 in the playoffs) won championships with D.C. United during the league’s first two seasons, 1996 and 1997. Earlier he coached at Virginia, winning four NCAA championships.

A winner of three titles at UCLA, Schmid is also the MLS regular season leader (139). Arena is No. 3 (109), behind Bob Bradley (124). Schmid is 4-3-3 in the regular season against Los Angeles (1-2-1 with Seattle; 3-1-2 with Columbus).

Five of Schmid’s seven previous playoff teams have advanced past the first round, and four (L.A. in 1999, 2001 and 2002; Columbus in 2008) have played for the MLS Cup.

Playoff Tested

Not only does Sounders FC possess the winningest coach in MLS postseason history, it also features a core unit of playoff veterans. Eighteen members (15 on the active roster) of the team have been involved in past MLS playoffs, including four who have won championships.

Tyrone Marshall and Peter Vagenas won MLS Cups as L.A. Galaxy teammates in 2002 (under Sigi Schmid) and 2005. Marshall leads Seattle players in career playoff appearances with 22 and Vagenas is next with 19.

Brad Evans and Nate Jaqua each won MLS titles in their previous stops. Evans went all the way with Schmid’s Columbus Crew in 2008. Evans scored a game-winning goal in a first round win over Kansas City. Jaqua got the goal which advanced Houston to the MLS Cup 2007 final.

James Riley (9 playoff appearances) was a member of New England’s MLS Cup runners-up in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Other than first-year MLS players Blaise Nkufo, David Estrada, Alvaro Fernandez, Mike Fucito, Miguel Montano and Michael Seamon, the only player yet to play in an MLS Cup Playoff game is Nathan Sturgis.

Last MLS Match: Sounders FC 1, Dynamo 2 – October 23, 2010 – Recap

James Riley staked Sounders FC to an early lead but Houston came back to snap Seattle’s club record five-game winning streak.

In the 12th minute, Nate Jaqua’s low drive was deflected by Dynamo keeper Tyler Deric. Jaqua chased down the rebound and touched it to Riley who blasted a right-footed shot from just outside the box that beat Deric to the top corner.

It was Riley’s second career goal and his first since September 24, 2005, his rookie season with New England.Just minutes earlier, Riley drove a ball into the crease but Jaqua’s volley from 6 yards was stopped by Deric.

Houston scored the equalizer in the 27th minute. Brad Davis and Dominic Oduro combined in the midfield and played Geoff Cameron into the box. Cameron struck a low, left-footed shot from the left side that beat Kasey Keller to the far post.

Seattle had seemed to be on the verge of reclaiming the lead in the 35th minute. Steve Zakuani intercepted a Houston back pass and was alone against Deric when the onrushing keeper made contact, sending Zakuani sprawling to the ground. However, instead of a penalty kick being awarded, Zakuani was issued a yellow card for simulation.

The Dynamo took the lead just after halftime. In the 46th minute, Davis set-up Mike Chabala on the left flank. Chabala swung a cross into the box and Cam Weaver’s header beat Keller inside the far post.

Patrick Ianni nearly equalized in second-half stoppage time but his close-range header bounced over the crossbar.

Jaqua made his third start of the season, replacing Fredy Montero who was suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Leo Gonzalez and Jeff Parke both left the match early with injuries.

Six of Seattle’s eight shots were on goal but Houston held a 9-1 advantage in corner kicks. Deric made five saves to earn his second win in two starts.

It was the first visit to Robertson Stadium since being eliminated from the 2009 playoffs by Houston last November.

Last Champions League Recap: Sounders FC 1, CD Saprissa 2 – October 19, 2010

Josue Martinez fired Costa Rica’s Saprissa into the next stage of the CONCACAF Champions League by scoring the decisive goal in the 87th minute.

Saprissa (3-2-1, 10 points) also got a first-half goal from Jairo Arrieta to come from behind and clinch second place in Group C. Mexico’s CF Monterrey (5-0-1, 16 points) won the group.

Sounders FC (1-5-0, 3 points) had taken an early lead through Nate Jaqua. It was Seattle’s first loss in its last seven (6-1-0) matches over all competitions, dating back to the 3-2 loss at Monterrey on September 22.

It was the final CCL contest for Sounders FC, but the club has already clinched a place in the 2011-12 tournament by winning the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Seattle took the lead in the 17th minute. The scoring sequence began when Mike Fucito swung a free kick into the box from 40 yards. After the ball bounced in a crowd in front of goal, Alvaro Fernandez’s shot deflected to Jaqua for a tap-in from 4 yards.

Saprissa equalized in the 26th minute. Goalkeeper Kasey Keller came off his line for a loose ball but Arrieta knocked it free and then rolled it into an open net.

The game-winner came in the 87th minute. Keller blocked a shot by Martinez, a second-half substitute, but the ball deflected off the near post and into the net.

Seattle held a 12-9 advantage in shots (5-5 on goal). There were a total of nine cards handed out in the match and Saprissa finished with 10 men after the ejection of Alexander Robinson for drawing his second caution in the 90th minute.

Saprissa had won the first meeting with Sounders FC in San Jose, 2-0, on September 14.

Attendance Standard Smashed

Records are made to be broken yet Seattle supporters may have now pushed the bar beyond the reach of most other MLS clubs. Only two have home grounds with seating capacities larger than 36,000. With a sellout crowd of 36,356 versus Chivas USA, Sounders FC finished the regular season with a 15-match total of 542,600, averaging 36,173. The match also marked the 31st consecutive sellout. In 2009 Sounders FC fans established an MLS record (30,943).

The top 10 home season attendance averages are as follows:

2010 Seattle Sounders FC: 36,173

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

Champions League Crowd Puller

Seattle had four of the top 11 attendances in the CONCACAF Champions League preliminary and group stage matches. The crowd of 22,513 for Monterrey on August 25 was the largest of the tournament and the third-largest attendance ever for a Champions League/Champions Cup match played on American soil. The Sounders FC game at Monterrey was the second-largest (19,617) of the tournament.

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)

41,047 October 12, 2010 Seattle v Chivas de Guadalajara (friendly)

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

36,386 August 28, 2010 Seattle v Chicago

36,356 October 15, 2010 Seattle v Chivas USA

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

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

Expansion Teams: Year Two

Sounders FC has now matched Chicago and Miami by qualifying for the playoffs in each its first two seasons. Chicago, Miami and Chivas USA made the playoffs in their second year of play. No franchise, original or expansion, has fewer losses in its first two years. Sounders FC has 17. Chicago and Kansas City each had a total of 26 in its first two seasons; San Jose and FC Dallas had 27 and Los Angeles 29.

42 Matches & Counting

No other MLS club has played more competitive matches than Sounders FC. Combining MLS (30), Champions League preliminary (2) and group stage (6) fixtures, plus Open Cup matches (4), Seattle has played 42 games thus far. It played 38, including playoffs, in 2009. Columbus, which was also active in the CCL and Open Cup, has also played 42 competitive matches.

Champions League: We’ll Be Back

Last week’s loss to Saprissa marked the end of Seattle’s first foray into CONCACAF Champions League play, but it will be back in the fray in 2011. CONCACAF announced that the Sounders FC win in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final clinched a place in the 2011-12 tournament. Seattle 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 2011-12. Los Angeles has taken another berth by claiming the Supporters’ Shield. The MLS Cup champion will take one of the other three spots allotted to America.

Among the Leaders

Seattle finished the regular season leading the league in fouls suffered (362) and corner kicks (171). It finished second in assists (44) and seventh in goals (39). Fredy Montero took 91 shots (T-3rd) with 34 on goal (7th). His four game-winning goals is tied for fifth. He committed 44 fouls (T0inh) and suffered 60 (4th). Steve Zakuani and Montero each scored ten goals (T0inh) and had four game-winning assists (T0inh). Montero’s ten assists is tied for fifth. Kasey Keller finished tied for third amongst goalkeepers with 14 wins. Keller’s 11 shutouts is tied-second and he is fifth with 82 saves.

About the Galaxy

The L.A. Galaxy hold the best record in Major League Soccer (18-7-5) and won the Supporters’ Shield for the first time since 2002, which was the club’s first championship season. The Galaxy earned the shield on the final day of the regular season, coming from behind to beat FC Dallas, 2-1. L.A. started the season on a 12-game unbeaten streak (10-0-2) and has won five of its last seven (5-2-0) going into the playoffs. The club leads the league in assists (46) and is second in goals (44). The Galaxy have proven to be a strong road team, going 9-3-3 away and allowing a league-best seven goals in 15 road matches (0.43 GAA). The Galaxy have only scored 17 goals on the road (6th) but hold a 16-1-0 record when scoring first and have not lost (15-0-0) when leading at the half (0-5-1 when trailing at the half).

Galaxy Notables

Galaxy’s offense features two of the top players in MLS this season. Landon Donovan recorded a career-best and league-high 16 assists to go with Edson Buddle’s 17 goals (2nd in MLS). Donovan, second on the team with seven goals, enters the postseason with an assist in each of the final two matches and has a league-best five game-winning assists. Buddle is second in the league in shots (96) and shots on goal (43) but no teammate has taken half as many shots. Buddle, who has seven game-winners and four multi-goal games, was surpassed by Chris Wondolowski for the Golden Boot on the final weekend of play. Outside of Donovan and Buddle, the leading goal scorer is Jovan Kirovski with four goals and the leading set-up man is rookie Michael Stephens with eight assists. David Beckham returned to action on September 11 after sitting out the season with an injury. He has two goals and one assist in his seven appearances, scoring most recently against FC Dallas last Sunday. Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts has earned 11 shutouts (T-2nd) to lead the league with 18 wins. Ricketts has posted two shutout streaks of over 300 minutes but both came before June 5.

Sigi’s Galaxy

After 19 years at UCLA (1980-98), current Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid began his MLS coaching career with Los Angeles in 1999, serving as head coach for six seasons (1999-2004). Schmid’s L.A. Galaxy teams won four major competitions: 2002 MLS Cup, 2002 MLS Supporters’ Shield, 2001 U.S. Open Cup and the 2001 CONCACAF Champions Cup. He was voted the MLS Coach of the Year in his first season, 1999. Altogether, his Galaxy teams were 79-53-32 and reached the MLS Cup final four times and won three division crowns.

SFC and the 2002 Galaxy MLS Cup Champions

Sounders FC has three former players from Sigi Schmid’s 2002 MLS Cup champion Galaxy team: assistant coach Ezra Hendrickson played for the Galaxy for seven seasons (1997-2003); defender Tyrone Marshall played six seasons for the Galaxy (2002-07); and midfielder Peter Vagenas spent his first nine MLS seasons with the Galaxy (2000-08).

Arena’s Roots in Puget Sound

The Galaxy’s Bruce Arena is returning to the region where his head coaching career began. Arena served as coach for the University of Puget Sound in 1976. He had originally come west to play for the Tacoma Tides of the American Soccer League earlier that year. Arena’s next collegiate appointment was at Virginia in 1978. Over the course of 18 seasons he led the Cavaliers to 295 wins and five NCAA championships. As U.S. Men’s National Team coach he returned to Seattle to coach four games between 2002-05.

MLS Cup Playoff Bracket

Western Conference Semifinals, First Leg

#2 Real Salt Lake at #3 FC Dallas, 5 or 5:30 p.m. PT, Saturday, October 30 (Fox Soccer)

#1 Los Angeles Galaxy at #4 Seattle Sounders FC, 5 p.m. PT, Sunday, October 31 (ESPN2)

Western Conference Semifinals, Second Leg

#3 FC Dallas at #2 Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m. PT, Saturday, November 6 (Fox Soccer)

#4 Seattle Sounders FC at #1 Los Angeles Galaxy, 6 p.m. PT, Sunday, November 7 (ESPN2)

Eastern Conference Semifinals, First Leg

#2 Columbus Crew at #3 Colorado Rapids, 6 p.m. PT, Thursday, October 28 (ESPN2)

#1 New York Red Bulls at #4 San Jose Earthquakes, 7 p.m. PT, Saturday, October 30 (TeleFutura)

Eastern Conference Semifinals, Second Leg

#4 San Jose Earthquakes at #1 New York Red Bulls, 5 p.m. PT, Thursday, November 4 (ESPN2)

#3 Colorado Rapids at #2 Columbus Crew, 1 p.m. PT, Saturday, November 6 (TeleFutura)

Last Meeting: Sounders FC 2, Galaxy 0 – July 7, 2010 – Recap (U.S. Open Cup)

Nate Jaqua scored two second-half goals as Seattle won a quarterfinal match in front of a capacity crowd, extending its unbeaten run to eight straight in cup-related matches.

After a scoreless first half, Jaqua struck in the 50th minute. Miguel Montano took a ball from Michael Seamon and blasted two shots, the later bouncing off the crossbar. With keeper Josh Saunders off his line, Jaqua headed the rebound into an open net.

Just 12 minutes later, Montano crossed the ball to the far-post where Jaqua headed in his second goal of the match. Jaqua has scored in three straight Open Cup appearances, including a goal in the 89th minute of last season’s semifinal match against Houston as well as the goal in the July 1 third-round match at Portland. The Timbers extended Seattle to penalty kicks after the match ended in a 1-1 draw.

Terry Boss got his first start in goal for Sounders FC and made two saves to earn the shutout.

Previous Sounders FC-Galaxy Meetings

Sounders FC 1, Galaxy 3 – July 4, 2010 – Home Depot Center

Steve Zakuani’s second-half strike was not enough for Seattle as it lost for the third straight match. Before a capacity crowd of 27,000, the Galaxy extended its lead to nine points in the West on goals by Edson Buddle, Juninho and an own goal by James Riley.

Los Angeles, entering on a two-game winless streak, welcomed back Buddle and star midfielder Landon Donovan from their duty with the U.S. National Team at the World Cup. Donovan connected with Buddle in the 19th minute for the game’s first goal. Donovan swung a corner kick into the box where Buddle headed it into the top corner.

Juninho added a tally in the 48th minute, making it 2-0 on a 30-yard strike into the top corner of the net for his first career MLS goal.

In the 66th minute, Zakuani closed the gap. He took a ball from Fredy Montero, split the Galaxy defense and slid a shot into the corner.

Seattle appeared to be on the verge of pulling level, but in the 74th minute Freddie Ljungberg’s shot was saved by Donovan Ricketts and three minutes later the Galaxy restored its lead. A driven ball through the crease from Alan Gordon was deflected by Riley into his own net.

Sounders FC was outshot 15-9 (5-4 on goal) and surrendered 11 corner kicks. Seattle matched a club record for fewest corner kicks in a game with one.

Sounders FC 0, Galaxy 4 – May 1, 2010 – Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field

Sounders FC allowed four goals for the first time at home as Landon Donovan recorded three assists and scored his first goal of the season. It was only the second time Seattle had allowed more than one goal at home in a league match.

Galaxy opened the scoring in the 22nd minute with a goal by Jovan Kirovski. Michael Stephens took a ball from Donovan and found Kirovski making a run from the left side. Kirovski’s right-footed strike from outside the box deflected off Kasey Keller’s hand and into the net. L.A. added a second goal in the 52nd minute when Omar Gonzalez headed in a Donovan corner kick. A third tally came just minutes later off a Donovan free kick as he served the ball into the box where Todd Dunivant headed home. Donovan added a fourth strike in the 67th minute off a one-touch shot from Edson Buddle.

Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso left the match in the 35th minute with a right hamstring strain. Colombian midfielder Miguel Montano saw his first MLS action, entering the match in the 58th minute for Fredy Montero.

It was the second time Sounders FC had been beaten by four goals. The first came at San Jose on August 2, 2009. Seattle was called offside a record 10 times.

Sounders FC 2, Galaxy 0 – August 15, 2009 – Home Depot Center

Seattle broke a 336-minute scoreless drought to end a three-game winless skein and post its first road win in nine matches. Sounders FC got its first break in the 16th minute. Galaxy midfielder David Beckham was shown a red card after a studs up midfield tackle on former teammate Peter Vagenas. Sounders FC played much of the match up one man.

Steve Zakuani scored in the 22nd minute, the team’s first goal since July 11. Brad Evans beat Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter and crossed the ball to the far post where Zakuani knocked it past Donovan Ricketts.

Seattle scored its second goal in the 54th minute after a corner kick by Vagenas was headed by Nate Jaqua and volleyed in by forward Fredy Montero. Each team lost a man in the final minutes. Tyrone Marshall was ejected on a second yellow and the Galaxy’s Eddie Lewis was sent off for a rough tackle on James Riley three minutes later. Seattle played the match without two of its MLS All-Stars. Midfielder Freddie Ljungberg sat out because of illness while defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado missed the match due to yellow card suspension. Seattle wore its blue kit for the first time at Los Angeles.

Sounders FC 1, Galaxy 1 – May 10, 2009 – Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field

Sebastien Le Toux scored his first MLS goal to help the Sounders FC hold on for a point despite playing final 30 minutes down a man. The opening goal came in the 22nd minute and was set-up by midfielder Steve Zakuani, who chipped over the L.A. defense to Nate Jaqua. Beating Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts to the ball, Jaqua tapped it left to Le Toux to stroke into an open net from 15 yards. The Galaxy’s equalizer in the 35th minute came Alan Gordon, who headed past Kasey Keller from 8 yards from a Mike Magee cross. Defender James Riley was sent off the field with a red card in the 57th minute after being judged to have struck Gregg Berhalter. Moments earlier he had drawn a yellow card.

MLS Announces 2010 Expansion Draft Date and Procedure

Major League Soccer will hold the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft on November 24, at 11 a.m. PT. The League’s 17th and 18th teams, Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Portland Timbers, will each select 10 players during the 10-round draft. Through the Expansion Priority Draft, Portland earned the first selection in the Expansion Draft.

Each current MLS club will have the opportunity to protect 11 players from their 2010 roster. Generation adidas players (who will not graduate at the end of the 2010 season) and Home Grown players are automatically protected and do not count against a team’s 11 protected roster spots. Designated Players do not have to be protected unless the player has a no trade clause in his contract.

Sounders FC to Host College Combine in Las Vegas

Sounders FC will hold its second annual invitational combine for top college seniors in Las Vegas from December 17-19.Sessions will be held at the Kellogg Zaher Soccer Complex and Sounders FC will select all of the participants. Sigi Schmid and his staff will be on hand to evaluate players.

In 2009 the Sounders FC combine attracted eight players currently on MLS rosters, including Tim Ream, Eric Alexander, Steven Beitashour and Seattle’s David Estrada. In all, 12 combine participants were chosen in the MLS SuperDraft. Among them were Sounders FC selections Estrada and Jamel Wallace,

Academy: U18s Sweep California Road Tests

The Sounders FC Academy U18s won both matches in southern California while the U16s split its games with the academy teams of the L.A. Galaxy and Chivas USA.

A hat trick from Darwin Jones led Seattle to a 5-0 win over the Galaxy in the U18 match. Jamael Cox and Drew White also got goals, and Brandon Brockway helped the visitors preserve the shutout.

Sounders FC remained unbeaten (2-0-2) by coming from behind to defeat Chivas USA, 2-1, on a pair of penalty kicks by Sean Okoli in the final 15 minutes. The latter penalty came after Nick Palodichuk was pulled down by the keeper in the 88th minute.

The U16s sustained their first loss, 3-0 at L.A., despite several point-blank saves by keeper Connor Adkisson. The Galaxy went up 2-nil after goals in the 32nd and 44th minutes.

Jesse Klug scored early and again late in the 2-0 victory over Chivas USA. He converted a through ball from Jordan Thompson to go up a goal in the 12th minute and then added insurance in the 78th following a feed from Stefan Bangsund. The U16s are now 3-1-0.

The academy teams return home for their first matches against Northwest Division foes. The San Jose Earthquakes and California Odyssey visit Starfire on November 6 and 7, respectively. The U18s play at 12 noon both days, followed by the U16s at 2:30 p.m. PT.

Sounders FC Roster

The following players are currently training with Sounders FC: Goalkeepers (3): Terry Boss, Kevin Guppy+, 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; +MLS emergency goalkeeper

Throw-ins

This eight-day break from the final regular season match to the playoff opener is the longest competitive break since the 17 days in June for the World Cup intermission. Seattle has played twice weekly since early September…Each of the last two losses have come after scoring first on the road…For the second year in a row the postseason foe is a team Sounders FC knocked out of the Open Cup earlier in the year. Seattle beat Houston in the 2009 semifinal…James Riley celebrates his 28th birthday on Wednesday, October 27. Nate Jaqua turns 29 on Thursday, October 28…Steve Zakuani won his second MLS Goal of the Week for his brilliantly taken opener against Chivas USA. Zakuani beat four defenders, regained his balance and then cut past Zach Thornton to score into an open net. It was the third straight week that a Sounders FC player won the award and the eighth time altogether…Sounders FC was 4-1-2 in the last seven against Western Conference members after starting 0-4-3…Since the adoption of the two-game, aggregate format for conference semifinals in 2003, only five of the 28 series have been extended to extra time. Three of those were eventually decided by penalties. Three series have involved a single goal scored…Only four No. 4 conference seeds have advanced to the MLS Cup Final, however three of those have occurred in the last five seasons, with L.A. lifting the cup in 2005 and Real Salt Lake last year. Colorado (1997) and New York (2008) were runners-up…The top defensive team has always qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs. Real Salt Lake was this year’s leader, allowing 20 goals. In fact, the top defensive team has advanced to the MLS Cup Final eight of 14 times, winning five…James Riley became the third defender to score this season, joining Tyrone Marshall and Leo Gonzalez. Riley (3), Marshall, Gonzalez, Tyson Wahl and Jeff Parke also have assists.

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