It has been a grueling stretch of five matches in 15 days for Sounders FC, but will come to a climax on Sunday against the club’s biggest rivals in the Portland Timbers. Head Coach Sigi Schmid is not one to label regular season games as “must-win,” but this is one his club definitely has circled on the calendar.
“Hey, this is it. This is the last game,” Schimd said of his team’s mentality as they close out the busy stretch. “Let’s suck it up. Let’s get it done.”
The series of matches started with a 2-0 win at CenturyLink Field against the Houston Dynamo and also included a 6-0 win in the semifinal of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. However, the two matches since have been a 2-1 road loss to Real Salt Lake and a 1-1 home draw with the San Jose Earthquakes. The last two results have the Sounders vying to get on the winning track against a tough opponent.
While fatigue may be an issue, it’s not one Seattle was overly concerned with after an off-day on Thursday.
The starters did a light session Friday while the rest of the team participated in full training at Starfire. One exception was Obafemi Martins, who jumped in to the full training session, according to Brad Evans.
“I think everyone’s ready to push,” Evans said. “At these critical times, you love to see that.”
Seattle used a healthy rotation of players to help cope with the mental and physical strain of the so many matches in a short period. Schmid has used 17 different starters in the first four games to keep the squad fresh and ready for each match.
Now entering the final match in the stretch, Seattle may have another edge on the Timbers—Sounders FC’s success against Portland this season.
Last month, Seattle posted a 3-1 overtime victory over Portland in the quarterfinal of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, then came back four days later and downed the Timbers 2-0 at CenturyLink Field. That came after Seattle came back from two goals down to earn a 4-4 draw against the Timbers on April 5 at Providence Park, with Clint Dempsey scoring the fifth hat trick in club history.
That draw was a turning point in the series momentum and Seattle has not relinquished control ever since.
“For us, that felt like a win and for them it felt like a loss. Anytime you can take points on the road, you want to,” defender DeAndre Yedlin said. “We did that and hopefully we can get three points. That’s what we’re looking to do every game.”
Kickoff in Sunday’s nationally televised match on ESPN2 is scheduled for 2 pm PT.