The Sounders FC has experienced so much in their first two matches. Nearly all of it has been positive, too. Among the things they have yet to learn of though, some will come to an end this week.
They have yet to play on the road and that undoubtedly will change on Saturday when they play Toronto FC at BMO Field in Seattle’s first away match of the season after two home wins against the New York Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake.
“It’s a little bit different pressure,” said goalkeeper and captain Kasey Keller. “We can go there and play spoilers, they like to say in England. We can just go and do what we need to do to get a result. I have no problem going into Toronto and not necessarily playing as well as we want to, but getting a result. It’s up to Toronto to make the game attractive for their fans. For us, it’s to just get points.”
After two home matches, the Sounders FC has yet to face a hostile crowd. In Toronto, they will face the reigning kings of crowd noise. Only in their third season in the MLS “The Reds” are already considered to have one of the rowdiest crowds in the league.
“The first road trip will be a good test. We know they’re going to be sold out and they’ve seen our fan base so that might make it a little bit more rowdy. But we’ve got a lot of guys that have faced similar environments, so I’m sure we’ll be ready,” midfielder Brad Evans said.
Former Toronto defender Tyrone Marshall has been on both sides of the field at BMO Field and he said it would be a similar atmosphere to Seattle, though Qwest Field has been louder to this point.
“It’s going to be like that from Minute 1 to Minute 90,” Marshall said. “They’re going to want to prove that they are a better crowd than ours but we have to prove them wrong by scoring a couple of goals and taking the fans out of the game. At the end of the day, if we win the game, their fans can cheer as much as they want.”
Head coach Sigi Schmid has plenty of experience coaching against Toronto. While with Columbus, he coached the Crew to an unbeaten record in the Trillium Cup derby between Columbus and Toronto, going 3-0-3 over two years.
Having Toronto as Seattle’s road opener while “The Reds” are playing their home opener just creates another challenge for Schmid and the Sounders FC.
“I’ve always felt that there are two things that are fun to do. One is to really get your home crowd excited and the other is to quiet down the away crowd,” Schmid said. “In this case silence is golden.”
In addition to playing an unbeaten schedule in two home games thus far, the Sounders FC has yet to allow a goal and has two MLS Player of the Week honors. Fredy Montero scored two goals and added an assist to earn the POTW in Week 1, while a five-save performance in a shutout gave Kasey Keller the award.
“It’s great to have an expansion franchise have the player of the week two weeks in a row,” Schmid said. “It speaks well to how our team’s done so far in the season. But it’s only two games … there’s still a long way to go. We’re satisfied with what we’ve done, but there’s still a lot ahead of us.”
If nothing else, the club hopes to carry the momentum from those two wins to the road with them.
“There’s confidence, but we won’t get too confident,” Evans said. “But you can’t argue with six points. We’re sitting nice right now, but there’s still 28 more games and 15 of them are on the road. Our crowd’s been behind us - it’s the talk of the league so far.”
The game against Toronto FC kicks off at 1 pm on Saturday and is televised on Fox Soccer Channel.