The next two matches for the Rave Green focus on the international landscape. During its league bye week, the Sounders visit Honduras for the group stage opener of the CONCACAF Champions League on Thursday against CD Marathón. First kick is 7 p.m. PT.
Seattle hosts CF Monterrey of Mexico August 25 on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field to begin a three-match home stand across all competitions. League play resumes August 28 as the Chicago Fire and former Sounder Freddie Ljungberg come to town.
Seattle Sounders FC is in a shifting competitive mode with activity being balanced between the Major League Soccer race along with that of international competition.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Open Cup semifinal with Chivas USA occurs September 1 at Starfire Sports Stadium in the Seattle suburb of Tukwila.
Unbeaten in nine matches with a 6-0-3 mark and allowing only three goals since July 7, Sounders FC had its four game MLS win streak snapped with a scoreless road draw at Chivas USA last week. Seattle is 10-8-7 overall and fourth in the Western Conference at 8-8-5 with 29 points.
This week’s foray marks the second trip to Central America this month. Sounders FC secured a place in Group C by drawing, 1-1, in a preliminary round game against Metapán in San Salvador on August 3 and winning the overall aggregate 2-1.
Three of the first four group games are on the road. Marathón visits Seattle September 29.
Sounders FC has yet to lose a non-MLS competitive match, winning all six of its Open Cup-related contests en route to the title in 2009 and going 1-0-1 in both the Open Cup and CCL so far this summer.
Marathón began the Honduran Apertura campaign by drawing twice, 1-1 at home to Deportivo Savio and 2-2 away to Platense El Monstruo Verde (the Green Monster).
After Monday’s training session, coach Sigi Schmid discussed some important issues, including Seattle star scorers Fredy Montero and Steve Zakuani.
Montero sustained a thigh contusion in a collision with burly Chivas USA goalkeeper Zach Thornton. Zakuani stayed home in Seattle and missed the Chivas USA encounter due to a pelvic injury.
“It’s sort of a day-to-day thing with both of them,” Schmid explained. “With Fredy obviously today we wanted to keep him away from impacts and things like that. But his quad is coming along and we think he is okay. He hasn’t had any real symptoms, so we think he’s okay that way. With Steve it’s just that we wanted to see what he could do today and see how he responds tomorrow.”
Seattle’s mentor waxed enthusiasm about the challenge of international competition.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for our club,” Schmid said. “For our players, it gives them an opportunity to get exposure internationally, for the first time in Honduras for many of our guys, guys on our team who have aspirations of maybe one day going on to play for the national teams of their respective countries.
“Anytime you get into international competition it allows that national team coach to see how you measure up, how you deal playing away from home, how you deal playing against foreign competition. So there are so many pluses to it. As a club, we want to go as far as we can in any competition we enter and we view it as an honor and a privilege, not as a burden.”
Coach Schmid also discussed the transfer window issue.
“I think we’re good,” Schmid concluded. “Obviously adding [Blaise] Nkufo up front has been helpful. Even though he doesn’t have a goal yet he’s still a very key player and an important player for us.
“Then the addition of [Alvaro] Fernandez has already paid dividends with the couple of goals he has gotten. I think we were able to make a couple of good additions that have helped our team and we also got ourselves on a roll a little bit in July and August. Now we just have to continue to go forward and build on that.”