Sounders relish opportunity to build playoff rhythm at home

After a month-long period that saw road contests in Trinidad, Honduras, Canada, Texas, and Oregon, Sounders FC looks forward to several home matches in the month of October.

After a trying month on the road, the Sounders will reintroduce themselves to the Seattle fans in the month of October.

From August 30 to September 29, the Sounders FC played road matches in Couva, Trinidad; Frisco, Texas; Portland, Oregon; San Pedro Sula, Honduras; and Vancouver, Canada.

That’s five road matches in four countries, covering 17,290 air miles and 632 ground miles while going 2-0-3 on the road and 3-1-3 overall.

Meanwhile, over their next four matches in MLS and CONCACAF Champions League play, they won’t leave the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field.  More importantly, they’ll spend nearly the entire month of October sleeping in their own beds.

“It’s unreal.  I don’t know what to do with myself,” midfielder Brad Evans said.  “You’re itching to get back to practice and that’s a good feeling.”

The Sounders have been successful at home, too.

In 2009, they went 7-2-6 at home, following that up with an 8-4-3 record in 2010.  Last year, they finished the year 9-4-4 at CenturyLink Field and already this year they are 9-4-1.  Add to that their 2-0-0 record in CONCACAF Champions League, including a victory over Mexican frontrunners Santos Laguna, and a 3-0-0 record at home in the US Open Cup, albeit at Starfire Stadium down the road in Tukwila.  Their only home losses this year have come to the San Jose Earthquakes (twice), Real Salt Lake and the Columbus Crew and only their loss to the Crew was by more than one goal.

Now nearing a fully healthy lineup, the Sounders will not only benefit from playing at home, but also a less rigorous schedule, with eight days between their previous game and Sunday’s meeting with the Portland Timbers at CenturyLink Field.  After that, they will have another extended time between games, not facing Real Salt Lake until October 17.

“We’re getting guys healthy, getting guys back and now we’ve got five days between each game to prep and I think that will benefit us,” Evans said.  “We don’t use it as an excuse, but the reality is that travel takes a toll on the legs and all that goes into the travel takes a toll on performance.”

While the calendar may be easier for the Sounders, their schedule is far from a cake walk.

After Sunday’s crucial Cascadia Cup match against the Timbers, who will take home the trophy with a win or tie against Seattle, the Sounders will meet Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy, who are fighting for playoff seeding, FC Dallas, who is battling to get into the playoffs, and a CONCACAF Champions League match with Marathon from Honduras.

With so many days between games in their next two matches, the Sounders are relishing the opportunity to build a rhythm before the playoffs.

“Having a good training rhythm, being able to mix some rest with training, as well, and making sure we’re physically right going into those games is important,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said.    

The Sounders are currently three points behind Real Salt Lake and one point behind the LA Galaxy in the standings, but will play four more matches in league play this month while LA and Salt Lake will only play three.

The match on Sunday against Portland will kick off at 6 pm from CenturyLink Field with national television coverage on ESPN and the local radio broadcast on KTTH 770 AM.

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