Seattle Sounders Play Final Two Matches, Then On To MLS Playoffs
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Sigi Schmid has requested that Seattle Sounders fans delay their Halloween trick or treating.
The Sounders had their ticket punched for their second successive season of playoff activity with their recent win at Kansas City October 9, but it remains to be seen which team they will oppose. The date is set for October 31 at the Xbox Pitch of Qwest Field, hence the concern on the part of Seattle’s coach over delaying trick or treating.
The team has already chalked up a better record than last season and with a win against the Houston Dynamo Saturday can boost their point total from a current 48 to 51. This is a worthy goal to shoot for, demonstrating a season of great achievement, but before that there is one more order of business.
That order of business is Tuesday night at 7 p.m. PT with the final round of CONCACAF competition slated as Seattle Sounders FC hosts Saprissa of Costa Rica. The Sounders hope for payback since the first road match between the teams ended with Saprissa shutting out the Emerald City squad 2-0.
The loss was particularly irritating to one player, Seattle defender Leo Gonzalez. The earlier match marked his first visit home since becoming a Sounder. Gonzalez received a red card in the first half and his evening’s play was over on an evening when he wanted to make a good impression on family and friends.
Schmid has been innovative when it comes to filling out his starting lineup card for CONCACAF competition with the requirement of seeing that his regulars receive sufficient rest to be able to withstand a long MLS campaign. This was a point he discussed following his team’s Monday workout:
“Our obligation is to ourselves. Every time we step on the field we want to win. The team we put on the field against Marathón certainly won. It’s not like that team is going to be much different in this game.
“We are not trying to shirk our responsibility. We are committed to winning every time we step on the field. It’s a great learning experience for our team but we also have to be smart on the same token and not play injured players. So that’s an important part and not overwork our players at this stage in the season.”
The Sounders are in a position to play spoiler against the tough Costa Rican team. A win would deprive Saprissa of advancing to the knockout quarterfinal round of CONCACAF play. Seattle has been in every match thus far but has been able only to win the Marathon encounter, a home triumph.
On the possibility of finishing third in Group C competition, Schmid said:
“I don’t think we are a last place team. I know that’s what the standings say but I don’t think we are a last place team. So it would be nice not to finish in last but it is what it is. We are not going to advance. It doesn’t matter where we end up since we are not advancing. All that matters is that we learn from this year and we need to incorporate our lessons into next year when we play in the Champions League again.”
The Sounders earned the right to play in next year’s Champions League competition by winning for the second successive year the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Schmid’s point is well taken. The tough competition embodying CONCACAF play enables teams to improve.
As for Saturday’s road opponent Houston, the Dynamo closes out a difficult year after winning the MLS Cup in 2006 and 2007. Houston has gone 1-4-3 in its last eight home encounters. It is 2-1-1 in its last four outings following a 1-0 road win at San Jose this past weekend.
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