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March 13, 2011 at 4:44 PM

Sounders FC release of team news and notes for Week 1

summit fans.jpgPhoto credit: Seattle Sounders FC

This collection of notes courtesy of the team. Interesting that Tuesday’s match is referred to as an expected sellout. I thought majority owner Joe Roth’s disapproval of the term “sellout” might change things this year.

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Season 3 Begins With Galaxy Rematch, Visit to Big Apple

Two tough tests await Seattle Sounders FC as it commences its third season and Major League Soccer begins its 16th before a capacity crowd and national television audience with MLS First Kick 2011. It all begins with Tuesday nights’ bout between Sounders FC, holders of the U.S. Open Cup, and the L.A. Galaxy, winners of the 2010 Supporters’ Shield. Kickoff is listed for 6:30 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, and ESPN and ESPN Deportes will televise it live.

Four days later, Seattle travels to face the New York Red Bulls, winner of the MLS Eastern Conference regular season crown, on Saturday evening at 4:30 p.m. PT. The match will be televised on KONG 6/16 with Arlo White calling the action from Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. Both games can be heard on 97.3 KIRO FM with Saturday’s game also on La Gran D 99.3 FM.

Seattle is hosting MLS First Kick for an unprecedented third year in a row, and Tuesday is expected to be the club’s 33rd consecutive sellout for an MLS match.

Beyond breaking MLS attendance records in its first two seasons, Sounders FC has also proven to be a formidable force on the field, qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs each season and becoming the first team in 27 years to claim back-to-back Open Cup championships.

The Galaxy, which features stars David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Juan Pablo Angel, finished with the league’s best record in 2011. In New York, French star Thierry Henry begins his first full MLS season with the Red Bulls, who also include Mexican international Rafael Marquez.

Sounders FC will be back home on March 25 to meet the Houston Dynamo at 7 p.m. PT. Tickets are available at www.SoundersFC.com and by calling 877-MLS-GOAL.

Upcoming Competition Schedule (All times Pacific)

Tuesday, March 15, 6:30 p.m. – L.A. Galaxy, Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, Seattle (MLS First Kick 2011)

Saturday, March 19, 4:30 p.m. – at New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.

Friday, March 25, 7 p.m. – Houston Dynamo, Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, Seattle

Saturday, April 2, 7:30 p.m. – at San Jose Earthquakes, Buck Shaw Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.

Wednesday, April 9, 1 p.m. – Chicago Fire, Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, Seattle

Sounders FC Invites Fans to Donate to the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief

Seattle Sounders FC will partner with the American Red Cross to collect financial donations for the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami this Tuesday, March 15 at Qwest Field prior to the first kick of the Sounders FC versus LA Galaxy.

There will be volunteers from the Seattle area American Red Cross collecting donations at various gates along Occidental Avenue and throughout the stadium. Fans can also donate online at www.redcross.org or text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

A gift to the American Red Cross will support disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific. On those rare occasions when donations exceed American Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters.

For more information visit at www.redcross.org

We Meet Again

The new season begins against the same side that ended the last one. L.A. eliminated Seattle from the Western Conference Semifinal Series by an aggregate of 3-1 (first leg 1-0, second leg 2-1). In fact the Galaxy won all four meetings in 2010, including a 4-nil road victory on May 8. However it was a Sounders FC 2-0 win in the quarterfinal round of the Open Cup which ignited a surge during the second half of the season. The Rave Green went a combined 13-2-3 in domestic competition (10-2-3 in MLS regular season) between July 7 and the start of the playoffs.

Series Notes

L.A. leads the all-time MLS series 4-1-1 (2-1-1 regular season), including a 2-0-1 mark on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field. Seattle’s sole win came at the Home Depot Center (2-0) in 2009. Steve Zakuani has scored three times plus an assist versus the Galaxy, and Nate Jaqua has three assists.

Sounders FC owns a 2-1-1 mark against New York after splitting the series last season as each team won 1-nil on the road. Fredy Montero has scored four goals in the series, including a brace in the inaugural game win of 2009. Seattle was the first visitor to win at Red Bull Arena, with Montero coming off the bench to net the decisive goal in the 85th minute on May 15, 2010.

After two seasons Seattle is 15-6-9 at home in the regular season, going unbeaten in its last seven (5-0-2). On the road it is 11-11-8, winning three of the last four in 2010.

Colombian Twist

Both the Galaxy and Seattle feature prized Colombian frontrunners. Seattle’s Fredy Montero has twice been his team’s Gold Boot winner and Juan Pablo Angel, new to the Southland, was prolific (58 goals in 108 appearances) during his four seasons in New York. Angel will likely run into another fellow countryman, Sounders FC central defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, throughout the night.

Perfect First Kicks

Sounders FC is gunning for its third straight shutout win in First Kick, having blanked the Red Bulls, 3-0, in 2009 and Philadelphia, 2-0, in 2010. Fredy Montero figured in all five goals, scoring three and assisting on the two others.

Fitting Anniversary

Saturday, March 19 will mark the second anniversary of Seattle’s inaugural match in 2009, and as fate would have it, the opponent will be the Red Bulls once more. Backed by a boisterous crowd, the Rave Green bolted to a 2-nil lead in the first 25 minutes. Since that night, the franchise became the first expansion team in 11 years to qualify for the playoffs in of its first two seasons, and the only one to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League in each of its first two opportunities. Sounders FC goes into its third year with a combined record of 26-17-17 in the regular season and 9-0-1 in domestic cup play.

Keller: The Encore Season

This will be the 20th and final professional season for Sounders FC goalkeeper Kasey Keller, 41. A native of nearby Olympia, Washington, Keller returned home following 17 years in Europe to backstop the fledgling Seattle franchise. Following last season, he signed a one-year extension. Keller has started 59 of the team’s 60 matches, posting 21 shutouts and allowing only 1.04 goals per game. He was named to the MLS All-Stars in both seasons.

Preseason Wrap: Montero Brace Beats Rapids, Claims Community Shield

A six-week preseason concluded last week with Fredy Montero scoring twice and assisting on the third goal in a 3-1 win over the Colorado Rapids in the second annual Community Shield match. With the victory Seattle finished the preseason at 5-4-2.

Montero’s two goals came in the final 23 minutes, snapping a 1-1 tie. Montero scored his first in the 67th minute after taking a one-touch pass from Erik Friberg. O’Brian White, who subbed in two minutes prior, also assisted on the score.

Montero’s second goal came in the 78th minute as he sent a shot over Colorado keeper Stewart Ceus. White and Pat Noonan assisted.

After a scoreless first half, Seattle defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado struck first in the 60th minute, heading home a Montero free kick. Colorado’s Jeff Larentowicz quickly responded in the 62nd minute on a penalty kick after Hurtado was whistled for a foul inside the box

Montero finished the preseason with a team-high four goals and one assist in nine games. O’Brian White netted three goals to go along with his three assists in eight appearances. Three other players recorded three assists as Sounders FC tallied 23 assists on 20 goals. In all, twelve different Sounders scored in preseason play. With four shutouts, the team allowed 16 goals, finishing with a +4 goal differential. Four players appeared in 10 of the 11 preseason games and 13 players appeared in eight or nine.

Stalwarts Return

While Sounders FC was the hottest club in MLS over the second half of 2010, it did so without two stalwarts from the first season. Midfielder Brad Evans and central defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, starters a combined 71 times in the team’s first 45 matches, each missed the second half last season with knee injuries. Hurtado was an MLS All-Star and finalist for 2009 Defender of the Year, and he is projected to start on opening night. Evans, the team’s No. 4 scorer two years ago, reclaimed his starting spot in the preseason. He sustained a strained hamstring in the Community Shield match but could return in time for First Kick.

New in 2011

The roster is both bigger and decidedly deeper in 2011. Among the offseason acquisitions are Jamaican forward O’Brian White and Swedish midfielder Erik Friberg. White, former MAC Hermann Trophy winner at UConn, was obtained in an expansion draft day trade after scoring a goal and an assist for Toronto FC against Seattle in 2010. Added from the draft this winter were midfielders Michael Tetteh and Servando Carrasco, and goalkeeper Josh Ford.

Originals Remain

Ten players remain from the 13 who saw action in the very first Sounders FC match against New York on March 19, 2009. Of the three players to leave, Sebastien Le Toux (Philadelphia) and Sanna Nyassi (Vancouver, then traded to Colorado) were taken in the expansion drafts.

The lineup for the inaugural match: Kasey Keller; James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyrone Marshall, Zach Scott; Sanna Nyassi (Steve Zakuani 68), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Sebastien LeToux; Fredy Montero (Roger Levesque 89), Nate Jaqua

Leader of the Pack

Sigi Schmid has guided Sounders FC to a strong start and two Open Cup campaigns which have produced silver, all the while increasing his record for MLS career coaching victories to 139 over 11 seasons with L.A., Columbus and Seattle. He is the only coach to win MLS Cups for two different teams (L.A. in 2002, the Crew in 2008). Schmid also owns the career record for postseason wins (19), and he also has a knack for getting his teams off to strong starts with a career mark of 7-0-0 in the month of March (3-0-0 with Seattle).

Fans, Fans and More Fans

The unquestioned capital of North American soccer, Seattle has long been a hotbed for the world’s game, and the community has backed its MLS club in record numbers. In 2010 Seattle shattered its own MLS season attendance record, averaging 36,173 for the regular season. It averaged 30,943 in 2009. There have been 32 consecutive sellouts, and season tickets will again be capped at 32,000 for 2011.

No Longer the Most-Traveled

With the addition of two expansion teams in the Pacific Northwest, Sounders FC will no longer hold the distinction of being the most traveled team in MLS. Instead that honor goes to Vancouver, which will compile an estimated 52,656 miles over 34 matches in 2011. New England is No. 2 (52,010) and Seattle third (50,582). In 2009 during a 32-game season the Rave Green logged 49,740 miles, excluding CONCACAF Champions League and playoffs.

The Sounders FC-Whitecaps FC derby has the third-closest closest proximity at 118 miles, trailing New York-Philadelphia (101). Next are D.C. United-Philadelphia (125), Seattle-Portland (151) and New York-New England (161).

Montero Named MLS W.O.R.K.S. March Humanitarian of the Month

Major League Soccer announced last week that Sounders FC forward Fredy Montero was selected as the MLS W.O.R.K.S. “Humanitarian of the Month” for March. The award recognizes Montero’s efforts to raise funds and awareness for the massive floods and devastation throughout his native country of Colombia.

Back in December, heavy rains caused flooding and mudslides in Montero’s hometown of Campo de la Cruz, Colombia. While the Sounders and their supporters responded with fundraisers in Seattle, Montero flew to Colombia to support his family and neighbors. More than two million Colombians have been affected by the disaster.

Mercy Corps, Sounders FC, Emerald City Supporters, Gorilla FC and the North End Faithful in addition to Sounders FC fans throughout the country joined to raise more than $29,000 to help flood relief efforts.

Three of the Sounders FC players hail from Colombia (Montero, Miguel Montano, and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado), where Mercy Corps has worked since 2007 to help survivors of Latin America’s longest-running conflict. They’re working with the most vulnerable residents – landmine survivors, displaced families, at-risk children – in the areas most affected by violence.

Montero is the third Sounders FC player to earn the honor, joining Sanna Nyassi (April, 2010) and James Riley (October, 2010).

Throw-ins

Sigi Schmid will celebrate his 58th birthday on Sunday, March 20…March 15 matches the earliest start date for MLS in its 16 seasons. Miami hosted D.C. United on March 15, 1998. The latest start was April 7 in both 2001 and 2007. All teams will begin play before the first day of spring and conclude the regular season in mid-Autumn…Through the first 15 years of MLS, 7,997 regular season goals have been scored. After the 8,000th goal is scored, MLS W.O.R.K.S, the League’s community outreach initiative, will auction off the match ball and jersey of the player who scores the landmark goal. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the player’s charity of choice.

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