Off to a start in which they are not only unbeaten, but also un-scored upon, the Sounders are riding high as they prepare to face the Kansas City Wizards at 7:30 at Qwest Field Saturday night.
Their three wins have come against an MLS Cup finalist in the New York Red Bulls, a Western Conference finalist in Real Salt Lake and an up-and-comer in Toronto FC. All three have been held scoreless by a defense of Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyrone Marshall and James Riley in front of goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
“It’s always fun, especially being in the back,” Marshall said. “You see that zero on the board, as a defender, it’s good. It shows you came to do your work.”
Playing against the Wizards, though, will be a new challenge. While New York focused their attack on getting the ball to striker Juan Pablo Angel and Toronto FC relied on the midfield play of Dwayne DeRosario, Kansas City uses a much more balanced attack, with several offensive threats.
“I think they’re a good team. They’re a team that’s made the playoffs in the last two years. And they’re a team that’s got some good offensive potential in guys like Davy Arnaud, Josh Wolff, Herculez Gomez. They are fast and dangerous and hard-working type guys. And you got Claudio Lopez with a lot of experience,” Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said. “So they’re definitely a team that you’ve got to be sharp and you’ve got to be attentive, too.”
Arnaud leads Kansas City with two goals in their first three games and Lopez is starting to regain the scoring touch that he grew famous for while playing with Lazio in Italy and Club America in Mexico.
In addition to the defenders and goalkeeper, Seattle has also gotten help all around to keep the defensive pressure on. No ball is safe around the field from the pesky feet of the Sounders.
“The team defensively has been good helping each other out. We’re getting better and better as a unit,” Marshall said. “We just have to keep working at it and I think we’ll get better.”
The only alteration to their lineup will be the combination of Freddie Ljungberg and Fredy Montero to the starting lineup. Both have started separately, but with Ljungberg’s hip injury that held him out of the season opener and Montero missing last week’s game with the flu, they haven’t started together yet.
When they do, and it will likely happen Saturday, it will mean a change in the on-field dynamic of the team.
“Obviously if you put both (Ljungberg and Montero) on the field it changes how some other guys have to play,” Schmid said. “It changes everybody’s role a little bit. It’s just a matter of how all that mixes together. As long as everybody knows what their roles are and what their responsibilities are, and I think everybody is pretty clear about that.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30, but the festivities begin well before that. The March to the Match starts at 6:00 at Occidental Park with the marching band leading hordes of fans into the stadium. Also, the team is collecting donations for the Give Kicks program. They will be accepting new and gently used soccer equipment and cash donations that will benefit Washington Youth Soccer outside the stadium prior to kickoff.