Second Half Club

From July 1 until the end of the season, Seattle has the best record in the league over the last three years.

As the months get hotter, so does the Sounders FC.

At least, that’s the way it has gone in the last three seasons, when the Sounders have elevated their game with the mercury in the thermometer. From July 1 until the end of the season, Seattle has the best record in the league over the last three years, powered by ten-win seasons in each of the last two years.

So head coach Sigi Schmid and the Sounders were happy to flip the calendar to July and put a month of June that saw them go 0-2-2 behind them. That extended their winless streak to eight matches in MLS play, a run that started with a 1-0 loss at home to Real Salt Lake on May 12 that the Sounders will have the opportunity to avenge on Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

“It was a hard loss because I thought in that particular game that we were the better team,” Schmid said.

After solid starts to the season, both teams are shuffling for points of late as Real Salt Lake have posted three straight losses, including two at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Led by the seven goals of Alvaro Saborio and six from Fabian Espindola and a stingy defense that is fifth in the league in goals against average, RSL is second in the West at 10-6-2. Add to the 1-0 defeat earlier in the season to a 3-0 drubbing at Rio Tinto Stadium in the first leg of their playoff series last year, and the Sounders have plenty of reasons to go in to the Wasatch Mountains with a chip on their shoulder.

“It’s always one that you mark on the calendar,” midfielder Brad Evans said. “It’s been eight games and it’s time for a win. I think everybody knows that.”

The Sounders will face Salt Lake without midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, who is serving a suspension for yellow card accumulation. However, they will get Fredy Montero back in the lineup after he served a red card suspension in Saturday’s 2-2 draw against the New England Revolution.

One of the things the Sounders did with success in their 1-0 Open Cup semifinal win over the San Jose Earthquakes and their draw with the Revs last week was defend all over the field. That, Schmid said, will need to continue with Montero in the lineup for the team to have success, particularly against a team like Salt Lake.

“We know he brings skill and technique and all those things, but he has to bring some energy back onto the field, as well,” Schmid said. “Certainly Fredy’s ability to shoot from distance, his ability to score goals, and his ability to impact games at key moments is something we can always use.”

The Independence Day clash kicks off at 7 pm Pacific and will be broadcast live on KING 5, with radio coverage on 97.3 KIRO FM.

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