Seattle Sounders FC returns home for an important three-game stand beginning Wednesday night at the Xbox pitch of Qwest Field against Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League competition.
This is a second-round match competition. The Sounders suffered a 2-1 setback last week on the road against CD Marathon of Honduras on a controversial penalty call against defender Tyrone Marshall.
On Saturday night, the Sounders play host to the Chicago Fire in an MLS match. Chicago comes in with a league mark full of sixes at 6-6-6 and 24 points. Last week the Fire saw a three-game win streak halted with a 4-3 loss at Houston.
Saturday’s match marks the first Seattle appearance of Freddie Ljungberg since his trade. Ironically, the two time All-Star Sounders midfielder was ejected only once with the Green Rave. That came against the same Chicago Fire last year in Seattle.
The homestand concludes Sept. 1 with the Sounders facing Chivas USA in an Open Cup semifinal. This contest occurs at Tukwila, Washington’s Starfire Sports Stadium.
The Sounders, who are unbeaten on the Starfire pitch, will be seeking their first-ever goal against Chivas USA in the history of the franchise.
After Monday’s training session Seattle coach Sigi Schmid commented on the fact that the Sounders will be facing home opponents in three different types of competition, MLS, CONCACAF, and the Open Cup.
“We want to win all three games,” Schmid said. “Obviously the league game is important for us because we want to get in the playoff hunt. Champions League is important because you have to win your home games.
"We are in the semifinals and would like to defend the Open Cup as well. So they are all equally important and we are going to approach each game with the idea of putting our best lineup out for each opponent.”
On the subject of Monterrey, Schmid revealed his respect for Mexican soccer teams:
“I think traditionally the Mexican teams have been the stronger teams in the (CONCACAF) competition. Most teams won at home in their first game, which is also pretty normal. But Monterrey has got some talented players.
“(Humberto) Suazo is a World Cup player who is a handful up front. I have seen him play for a lot of years now. I know he didn’t make it in Spain when he went back there but he is still a very, very good player.
"[Neri] Cardozo on the wing is a really good player. [Osvaldo] Martinez is a good player for them. They have different options underneath. [Sergio] Santana has done well for them.
“They have a lot of experience in the back with [Duilio] Davino. They have [Severo] Meza, who likes to attack on the right side. So they have got good quality players, otherwise you don’t win the Apertura in Mexico.
“It’s important for us to play well. Again, I think the Marathón game was important for our team because I think the guys who were in the competition for the first time or playing that type of game for the first time, the uncertainty left them during the game and they said, ‘Wait a second, we have nothing to fear.’”
The next subject that Schmid tackled was the important MLS match with Chicago.
“We still need to get points to move onto the playoffs and Chicago is somebody who is a direct competitor,” Schmid concluded. “So it’s a six-point game. What we look at right now is there are still some teams that have fewer games than us, just like Chicago has fewer games, and we look at if they won out, would they pass us?
“There are about four or five teams that are behind us now that even if they won out their games couldn’t pass us. Chicago is one of the teams that if they won out their games, they could pass us.
"But if we can walk away with a victory on Saturday then we put them into that same position. They can win out their games and they can’t pass us. So that’s what we are looking to do, to keep our distance, so that’s important.”
The Sounders’ coach concluded his comments by discussing the team’s recent heavy travel and how to psychologically adjust to it.
“Our approach is simply each game we want to put out the best team,” Schmid said. “We want to win every game that we enter into. My feeling has always been as a coach, and maybe in life, maybe it came down from my father to me, it’s just you deal with what you can deal with and you change what you can change.
“I can’t change the distance between Seattle and San Jose, Costa Rica, or Columbus or anything like that. It’s something we have to deal with.
"We travel more than any other team within our league already, and being in that competition of the Champions League where all the other teams are going to be south of the border, we are going to travel even more.
“At the end of the day, we can’t do anything to change it, so why worry about it? Let’s just get on with it.”