With every bit of adversity comes an opportunity.
That’s the way the Sounders FC is approaching the daunting schedule in front of them that will see them play three games in three different time zones over an eight day stretch, beginning with their match on Saturday against the Philadelphia Union.
The congested schedule provides a different sort of challenge for the Sounders as they look to improve on their 1-3-2 record.
“For us, it’s an opportunity to get nine points,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “The challenge for the group is to be focused on every game and doing the right things to regenerate between each game.”
The challenge of playing three games in one week is a task that the Sounders have navigated well in previous years. On the nine occasions when the Sounders have played three league matches in an eight-day stretch, the club has gone 12-7-7, with one stretch of time covering five games in 15 days last season.
That is as much a testament to the fitness of the club as it is the talent on the field, although squad rotation is a key factor for the Sounders, too, as Schmid utilizes the club’s depth in the tough stretches of games.
“You’ve got to look at where guys are at physically. Somebody coming off an injury can go, but can they go one, two or three games or are you going to put him in a situation where he’s going to get injured again? You’ve got to think about that and be smart about it,” Schmid said. “Some guys can take that load without a problem and other guys have a little more of a problem taking that load.”
The Sounders have several players returning from injuries, including forwards Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins and David Estrada. Bringing those three back into the mix will not only help the depth at forward, but in the midfield as well, as Lamar Neagle and Steve Zakuani were both utilized as forwards in the absence of those three strikers.
Meanwhile on the defensive side the Sounders have been solid of late, posting two consecutive shutouts while extending their total shutout streak to 235 minutes dating back to March 30. That comes in handy as the Sounders face the Union, then Kansas City at Sporting Park on Wednesday before returning to CenturyLink Field to face the 2012 Supporters’ Shield winners San Jose Earthquakes on May 11.
“It’s tough, but it’s a good opportunity to get points,” midfielder Brad Evans said.
Kickoff for Saturday’s match is scheduled for 1 pm PT from PPL Park, with television coverage on KONG 6/16 with the radio broadcast on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM and in Spanish on La Gran D 99.3 FM.