Sounders FC vs. FC Dallas
May 18, 2013, 7:30 pm PT, CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: KING 5; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; THIS-TV 4.2 (Spanish); La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish)
Over their last five matches, the Sounders FC has been among the hottest clubs in Major League Soccer.
On Saturday night at CenturyLink Field, they will meet another streaking team when MLS-leading FC Dallas comes to Seattle in a meeting of two teams that are on lengthy unbeaten runs. With the Sounders 3-0-2 in the last five matches after a slow start and FC Dallas racing out to an incredible start to the season and riding a 6-0-3 unbeaten run, it’s bound to be a good test for the Sounders.
“It’s another game for us to get better as a team,” said Seattle forward Eddie Johnson, who has been integral in unlocking the offense since his return to game action two weeks ago. “We’ve got a bit of a run going on right now where we’re really starting to come into ourselves and really find ourselves, so it’ll be a good test.”
The match comes one week after the Sounders capped a string of three games in eight days with a 4-0 thrashing of the San Jose Earthquakes.
With that result comes a lot of momentum for the Sounders, but Dallas has been equally impressive. Facing a struggling DC United squad last week, FC Dallas played without midfield virtuoso David Ferreira and top centerback George John, but still toppled DC 2-1 to halt a streak of consecutive draws. That short-handed victory is a confidence-builder for an already poised Dallas team.
The Sounders aren’t bent on slowing Dallas as much as they are on maintaining their own string of success.
“The guys are always eager to play,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Dallas is the top team in our division, so it becomes a good measuring stick for us. But most important for us is that we want to keep accumulating points.”
In Dallas the Sounders will meet a team that has found a rhythm of their own. If Ferreira is able to play – and coach Schellas Hyndman hinted that he wasn’t likely to start earlier this week – he gives them one of the best attacking playmakers in MLS. The 33-year-old Colombian was the MVP of the league in 2010 when he posted eight goals and 13 assists in his second MLS season. He has since been slowed by injuries, but has still managed 22 goals and 33 assists in 93 matches for Dallas.
“I think he’s one of the best players in the league and he brings a different dynamic to the team,” said Seattle midfielder Brad Evans.
This year, Ferreira has one goal and three assists in 10 matches, but missed last week’s match with a hamstring injury suffered in a mid-week game against the Portland Timbers. Without him in the lineup, Dallas turns into a more rigid 4-4-2, though their outside midfielders and outside backs have a tendency to get forward, creating space behind them for counter-attacking opportunities.
Perhaps their greatest danger, though, comes on the set piece.
With the additions of Kenny Cooper and Eric Hassli at forward and Michel as an option in the midfield and defense, Hyndman has a dangerous team off of the dead ball.
“We’ve got to be careful on set pieces,” Schmid said. “Michel serves a good ball so with guys like (defender Matt) Hedges and Blas Perez and Cooper or Hassli they have a number of good targets.”
For their part, the Sounders are gaining in confidence and cohesion as they get healthier and play more matches together. However, they are far from complacent in their recent success.
“There are still a lot of things we need to work on,” Evans said. “As long as we keep a level head and know that we have to work for all of our victories, hopefully we find ourselves on the right side of results.”