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Sounders return to LA in hopes of righting ship against Chivas

Back in California for the second time in a week, the Sounders will look to bounce back against Chivas USA.

Sounders FC @ Chivas USA

June 1, 2013, 7:30 pm PT, The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

TV/Radio: KONG 6/16; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; THIS TV 4.2 (Spanish); La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish)

CARSON, Calif. – This weekend is one of opportunity for the Sounders FC.

With regular starters Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson away on international duty with the US National Team and Shalrie Joseph serving the first game of a two-game suspension for a red card foul in last week’s loss to the LA Galaxy, at least three players will have the chance to earn more playing time when the Sounders meet Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center on Saturday.

However, the same can be said for Chivas USA, who parted ways with head coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola this week, giving their whole roster a fresh start and a chance to earn their way onto the field.

In addition to a group of hungry players the will see a fresh opportunity in front of them, the short time to prepare also means that Sigi Schmid and the Sounders aren’t sure what playing style to expect when Chivas takes the field for the first time under interim coach Sacha van der Most.

“I think it makes them all the more dangerous,” Schmid said.  “We’re going into the game and we don’t know what changes the interim coach is going to bring.  Is he going to switch to four in the back?  Is he going to have them play more of a traditional formation?  Is he going to have them play as aggressively in terms of playing forward and making runs forward as the team did before?  Those are all now unknowns.  From that standpoint, the topsy-turvy week they’ve had makes it a little more difficult for us to prepare.”

As little as can be known about the Chivas team that will take the field, what is known is that they struggled prior to the coaching change.  After a 3-1-1 start, they stumbled to the bottom of the Western Conference with a seven-match winless streak.  That, combined with Seattle’s unbeaten record in their past eight matches against Chivas USA, would have made this match one that would have the Sounders licking their chops.

However, along with the changes at Chivas, the Sounders are also faced with some struggles of their own.  Coming off of a six-match unbeaten streak in MLS play, the Sounders fell 4-0 to the LA Galaxy on Sunday, then 1-0 to the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the US Open Cup on Wednesday.  Getting back on track will be important for the Sounders as they look to salvage their nine-day road trip.

“You’re only as good as your last game.  Every day is a new challenge for all of us—for the coaching staff, for the players on the field,” Schmid said.  “People have short memories oftentimes, so right now it’s about us getting people to think about this game on Saturday against Chivas and how we did in this game and forgetting about the other two.”

Getting back to the form that saw them win three straight against Sporting Kansas City, the San Jose Earthquakes and FC Dallas could be a simple task – with the basic advice to keep things simple.

Against the Galaxy, the Sounders struggle to keep possession of the ball and were never able to generate an attack because of it.  Getting back to that ball-control game, as they did when recovering from an 0-3-1 start.

“We have to defend with good concentration, we have to anticipate things defensively, but when we win the ball we also have to keep the ball,” Schmid said.  “We have to keep the ball, we have to be goal dangerous, but more so than anything we have to keep the ball and make the other team adapt their formation to us, rather than us having to adapt to them because we’re giving possession away so much.”