Time to rest after rigid stretch

Time to rest after rigid stretch

After playing five games in 15 days, Sounders FC has a chance to rest, and integrate some new faces into their lineup.Last week had the potential to be a monumental one for the Sounders FC.  With matches against the LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes in MLS play on the weekends and the mid-week Open Cup final against Sporting Kansas City, they had the opportunity to climb the Western Conference standings and lift a mid-season trophy for an unprecedented fourth consecutive season.

They started off the seven-day stretch strong with a resounding 4-0 trouncing of the LA Galaxy in front of over 60,000 fans at CenturyLink Field and a national television audience on ESPN2.  However, a shootout loss to Sporting Kansas City and a loss to the Earthquakes on a stoppage time goal left them feeling empty following high expectations going into the week.

Now, the Sounders are getting back to training this week with an eye on the Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday and a new opportunity to get back to the form that saw them go unbeaten in nine straight matches across all competitions.

“We’re very disappointed,” said midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, who played in all five matches in a stretch of five games in 15 days.  “We have to keep doing the job we’re doing.  Last week … it’s soccer.  We have to look forward in MLS.  We have the opportunity to make the playoffs, so we have to keep playing.”

Moving past that pair of defeats and looking ahead to the final 11 matches of the MLS regular season, the Sounders have plenty to be optimistic about.  Against teams that are in the top five of their conference and would qualify for the playoffs, the Sounders are 4-3-5, with a plus-5 goal differential.

Now with a chance to rest after playing five games in 15 days, the Sounders will also have a chance to adjust to Christian Tiffert, who has nearly as many games (three) as training sessions (four) since joining the Sounders last week in a transfer from FC Kaiserslautern in Germany.

Integrating Tiffert and left-sided midfielder Mario Martinez, who will join the team after appearing in a friendly with Honduras on Wednesday, into the lineup, make an already strong attacking group even more potent.  Adding training sessions will only further advance the cohesion of the group.

“I don’t think there’s any team in the league that we have to fear,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said.  “Hopefully we get a little bit of a rhythm and train a little bit as well.”

While the training sessions will be important, so will rest.  After their rigorous stretch, the Sounders took Monday off and will also have a day off on Wednesday before meeting the Whitecaps on Saturday.  Those days off will give the team a chance to ease the wear and tear of playing in three competitions and get into a more consistent lineup.  In their five matches since July 28, they had 20 different players make appearances, with 17 different players starting games last week alone.

“It’s tough for us.  We have a lot of people playing and we make changes in the lineup,” Alonso said.  “We have one week now to rest people and everybody will be physically and mentally good.”

Kickoff is set for 1 pm on Saturday as the Sounders resume their Cascadia rivalry with the Whitecaps.  The match will be televised on KING 5, with radio coverage on 97.3 KIRO FM.
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