Sounders ready for first road challenge of the season

The Sounders travel to San Jose for a Saturday night matchup with the defending Supporters’ Shield winning Earthquakes.

In the last four years, the Sounders FC has been the second best team in Major League Soccer away from home. 

Their record of 24-18-12 away from CenturyLink Field is behind just the 27-16-21 road record posted by the LA Galaxy in that span and those are also the top two teams in the league overall, with LA at 66-30-34 and Seattle going 59-33-38.

So on Saturday when they play their first road match of the season, it’s understandable that they would carry plenty of confidence into Buck Shaw Stadium where they will meet the defending Supporters’ Shield winning San Jose Earthquakes.

“We’ve shown ourselves to be a good team on the road in the past and we’ve got to continue to do that,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said.

Much of that success has come in Seattle’s attacking approach, even when they are away from home.

Where many teams bunker in when they aren’t in the comfort of their home stadium, the Sounders play with the same tactics at home as they do on the road.  That also eases the blow when they aren’t able to field their full roster – as is the case this weekend when midfielder Mario Martinez and forwards Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson are away on international duty.

That may test Seattle’s depth in those attacking roles, but the Sounders have shown to be up to that task over the years.

“We just keep playing and do what we always do.  We can’t change our style of play,” said midfielder Steve Zakuani.  “We’re losing really good players, but we also have good players who stayed back.  Whatever team goes out on Saturday just has to play the way we play and believe in ourselves.  There are different guys who can score on this team and we have to show that on the weekend.”

The match against San Jose precedes another difficult road test against Real Salt Lake, who are always a tough challenge at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The Sounders will leave for the Bay Area on Friday, starting the pregame process that they will repeat as close as possible in their 16 other road contests this season.  Getting into that rhythm when not in the familiar surroundings of home help make the team comfortable and further eases the transition into road matches.

“Sometimes going on the road is good early in the season because it’s a reminder that you’re in the season.  It gets you into that routine again,” Schmid said.

With those road matches in San Jose and Salt Lake, it also provides short trips for traveling support, which have typically been strong in those two road cities.

Kickoff on Saturday is scheduled for 7:30 pm PT, with television coverage on KING-5 and the radio broadcast on KIRO Radio 97.3. The match will also be televised live in Spanish on This-TV.

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