Rapids in town as Sounders look to gain ground in the West
Posted by: Matt Gaschk
Colorado currently sits a place above the Sounders, though it has played a whopping four more league matches.
Sounders FC vs. Colorado Rapids
July 20, 2013, 1 p.m. PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: KONG 6/16; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; KOMO2 (Spanish); La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish)
Sounders FC has a rare opportunity on Saturday afternoon.
A pair of streaks are on the line, one of which goes clear back to 2010 as Seattle will look for their club-record fifth-straight home victory when they face the Colorado Rapids. It would also be an MLS-record eighth straight victory over the Rapids.
More important than either of those streaks for Seattle, though, is their current run that has seen them drop three of their last four matches, a trend they will look to bring to an emphatic halt at CenturyLink Field on Saturday.
“Right now, all that’s important for us is that we need to get a win on Saturday for the current run that we’re in,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “If that means that we’re the first team that wins eight, tremendous. But we’re not worrying about what’s happened before or what’s going to transpire after. Our whole focus is on this game.”
Although they will have Osvaldo Alonso in the lineup after his red card against the San Jose Earthquakes was rescinded and Obafemi Martins will make his return after missing that match with a calf injury, Seattle is still riddled with absences.
Eddie Johnson is with the U.S. National Team for the quarterfinals in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, facing off with El Salvador in Baltimore on Sunday. In addition, goalkeepers Michael Gspurning and Marcus Hahnemann, defender Djimi Traore and midfielders Steve Zakuani, Shalrie Joseph, Alex Caskey and Andy Rose are all not expected to play on Saturday.
For the players available, the match on Saturday is about the players who are on the field and not those who aren’t.
“We just stay focused. We know a lot of players are injured, but we have no choice but to continue to train and focus on the game,” Martins said.
Against Colorado, they meet a team that has been hot and cold all season.
The Rapids started off the season winless in their first five matches, but posted a six-match unbeaten streak and are now on a streak of four matches without a loss after a 2-1 win over the New England Revolution on Wednesday. They have found a steady mix of young players and veterans to help them to an 8-7-6 record that puts them sixth in the Western Conference.
“He’s got a team that’s playing with a lot of energy because of the youthfulness of the team. That energy has gotten them some good results,” Schmid said.
Among their more recent acquisitions that has made an impact is midfielder Nathan Sturgis, who played for Sounders FC in 2009 and 2010 before being selected in the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft. He was immediately traded to Toronto FC and has since added the Houston Dynamo and Rapids to his collection of jerseys.
After scoring just once in 80 matches before he landed with the Rapids – on a penalty in 2010 for Sounders FC – he now has four goals in the last 10 matches for Colorado, including a stretch of three goals in four matches in May and June.
His role there, Schmid says, isn’t much different than how he played in Seattle in 2010.
“Sturgis, when he had a very good year for us, played as a deeper midfielder and a guy who could orchestrate the game from deep,” Schmid said. “That’s what Colorado is relying on him to do. That role suits him.”
Saturday’s match kicks off at 1 p.m. PT, and fans are encouraged to arrive early to ensure smooth access into the stadium.