Sounders FC vs. FC Dallas
August 3, 2013, 7:30 p.m. PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: KING 5; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish)
There are two teams with something to prove on the pitch at CenturyLink Field on Saturday.
Sounders FC will look to extend its eight-match home unbeaten streak and capitalize on its games in hand over every team in the Western Conference as it vies for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Meanwhile, FC Dallas needs to show that when healthy it is every bit as good as the team that started the season 7-1-3 and not the one that has gone 1-4-5 since.
The turning point for Dallas was a 4-2 pasting at CenturyLink Field on May 17. All three Seattle forwards – Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle – scored in that match and Dallas was only able to generate scoring chances off of set plays. The contrast between the two teams was stark and Dallas will no doubt try to exorcise those demons on Saturday.
“I think you’ll see a different team and a different attitude,” said midfielder Brad Evans. “That’s something that we’ve got to keep in the back of our mind. It’s going to be a hungry team.”
It’s also going to be a more complete team.
In that matchup in May, Dallas played without All-Star defender George John and former MLS MVP David Ferreira. Having those players back in the lineup will make them a potent squad. And while they will miss forward Eric Hassli, who is suspended for the match, Saturday may see the debut of a pair of young central midfielders for Dallas, who added Brazilian Erick and Argentine Mauro Diaz last month.
While Seattle will be wary of all of those players, it was defender Michel who caused set-piece problems for them in their last meeting, finding Kenny Cooper in the box for a goal off a free kick and scoring himself on an Olimpico.
“He was very dangerous for them on set pieces and free kicks, so not giving away unnecessary fouls is the usual thing, and making sure that we’re organized and solid with our marking on the set pieces and hope that he has an off day serving them,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said of Michel.
While Seattle is aware of what Dallas brings to the table, the team is also aware of the talent on the team. When Dallas is on, the Texas side has toppled teams 4-0, 4-2 and 3-2 as it did in three straight home matches in May and June.
Entering the weekend, Seattle is four points out of the final playoff spot with two matches in hand on Dallas and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The atmosphere is always heightened at CenturyLink Field, but with Sounders FC feeling the crunch of a playoff push, it will grow to greater heights on Saturday. The players know that a 2-1 win over Chivas USA isn’t enough to declare themselves in form.
“We’ve got to come out like it’s a playoff game again,” Evans said. “One victory doesn’t cure all the wounds.”