With CONCACAF Champions League in the rear view, the Sounders fully shift their focus to league play. It starts on Sunday afternoon against FC Dallas.
“It’s very important,” Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said following a training session on Saturday evening. “Now our only objective is to get as many points as we can to make the playoffs, and this is a Western Conference foe. This game is massive.”
At the end of a week-long trip that began with a flight to Guadalajara on Monday morning, a good result in Frisco would be huge for club morale. The Sounders went all in on CONCACAF Champions League, as stars Clint Dempsey and Chad Marshall rested in the 1-0 loss to LAFC on March 4.
It proved to be an unsuccessful venture, though. The Sounders were knocked out of CCL play after a difficult 3-0 loss to Chivas on Wednesday night in Guadalajara.
“After a disappointing game you want to play as soon as possible,” midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikrem said on Saturday. “Now we have a game and hopefully we can get a good result.”
For as important as it is to get a result this weekend, it comes against a tough opponent. The Rave Green haven’t won at Dallas since April 2014, posting 0-5-3 mark at Toyota Stadium in their past eight meetings, including a 0-2-1 record in the postseason.
“They’ve had a long rest, so they will be prepared,” Schmetzer said. “Oscar [Pareja] has had 10 days to get prepared. We are doing the best we can to make sure we are prepared ourselves. This is going to be a good game, this is a good rivalry.”
This preparation comes both on the field and off. In addition to a training session at the Toyota Soccer Center on Saturday afternoon, the squad did a team-centric outing in Guadalajara on Thursday to turn the page from Wednesday’s disappointment.
“It was a bad way to end a CCL competition,” Schmetzer said. “At the end of the day, we lost and we have to move on. That’s just a fact. We had a team bonding event in Guadalajara – Gonzalo [Pineda] took us to one of his favorite restaurants down there. That got guys in better spirits. We have to move on.”
After a long trip, the squad has a chance to get back on track in league play on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s been a lot of travel,” Wolf Eikrem said. “As long as we can play some football in the end, it’s always nice.”