Sounders FC (6-5-3) vs. D.C. United (2-12-3)
Wednesday, July 3, 7 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.
TV/radio: KONG 6/16, KIRO-FM 97.3 (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)
Spanish TV/radio: THIS-TV (KOMO 4.2), La Gran D 99.3 FM
Referee: Allen Chapman
KEY D.C. PLAYERS
F Chris Pontius — It’s not that he’s had an especially good year (one goal, two assists), but he will be the focal point of an offense that is without former MVP Dwayne De Rosario and former Rookie of the Year runner-up Nick De Leon. Pontius is healthy and has had some big games against the Sounders with three games all-time in the series. Nearly had a hat trick here in 2010.
M Perry Kitchen — The No. 3 pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft has played and started every MLS game this season. He’s second on the team with 1,513 minutes and has been a mainstay in the lineup since Day 1. Another Akron standout, expect the game to come to him as a defensive midfielder on a last-place team. We’ll see if he can take hold of more of the game with Osvaldo Alonso (quad) out for Seattle.
GK Joe Willis — Regular starter Bill Hamid has been called up by the U.S. for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, so the third-year pro is in line to play. He’s made two starts this year (losses at Chicago and Dallas) and 15 overall since being drafted in 2011. The Sounders should be somewhat familiar with him as he started a scoreless tie between these teams last season at RFK Stadium.
Mauro Rosales vs. Alain Rochat — Seattle’s DP hasn’t factored into a scoring play with a goal or assist in his last four starts on the right wing, but we’ll see if he can connect with the team’s vaunted forward duo of Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins — maybe on a set piece. D.C.’s new left back has started three-straight games after being acquired in a trade with the Whitecaps.
Lionard Pajoy vs. Djimi Traore — Pajoy’s two goals will be the most of any active player on D.C. United, believe it or not. And with the offense riddled with injury, he could be in line for a start (he’s only had one since the end of April). Almost certain to start is Traore, the steady veteran newcomer who leads all Sounders’ field players with 1,170 minutes played.
Lowly D.C. vs. looking ahead — Nothing has gone right for D.C. this season, as I covered in my preview story. The offense has scored eight goals all year — just one on the road. The defense isn’t much better. The key for the Sounders will be getting off to a fast start and seize control of the game early, as D.C. is 0-11-1 this season when allowing the first goal.
July is setting up for a chance to make a run if you’re the Sounders, and that will need to start with a home win against the worst team in the league.
Maybe that adds a little pressure to the home side, but there is absolutely no reason to lose this game against a poor team that is without arguably four of its best players. Seattle won’t have guys like Alonso, Steve Zakuani or Mario Martinez, but should have more than enough to get the three points.
Sounders FC 3, D.C. United 1
SEA — Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales) 23′
SEA — Brad Evans (pk) 47′
DC — Chris Pontius (un) 54′
SEA — David Estrada (Servando Carrasco) 78′
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What do you think? How do you see this one playing out?