Sounders Back In Playoff Contention Image

Resurgent DC squad not to be taken lightly

The Sounders will welcome D.C. United to CenturyLink Field on Wednesday night, a match that the club knows it should win.

Sounders FC vs. D.C. United
July 3, 2013, 7 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: KONG 6/16; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; KOMO2 (Spanish); La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish)

Eight months ago, Sounders FC and D.C. United were in strikingly similar circumstances. Both teams had aspirations of reaching the MLS Cup final and were on the brink in their respective conference finals only to fall to repeat MLS Cup opponents the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo.

Since then, though, DC has struggled mightily, holding the worst record in MLS at 2-12-3. A recent victory over the San Jose Earthquakes halted their winless streak at 13 games, but they followed it up with a 1-0 defeat over the weekend against Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

Sounders FC, meanwhile, is 6-5-3 and are 6-2-2 in their last 10 matches.

While their paths since their untimely ends in 2012 have been drastically different, on Wednesday night their courses will intersect at CenturyLink Field in the only meeting of the season between the two clubs. And Seattle isn’t about to take their Eastern Conference foes lightly.

“They’re a team that hasn’t done well, but a team that’s always dangerous,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “They’ve played better as of late. They continue to battle and fight and there is talent on the team.”

For that reason, Sounders FC has taken to approaching D.C. as a team that nearly represented the East in the MLS Cup finals last year and this year has stormed to the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Seattle, for all of their recent successes, can’t afford a two-game losing streak after falling to Real Salt Lake two weeks ago.

“If we look at it as a team who’s sitting at the bottom of the table, we’re going to get stomped on,” midfielder Brad Evans said. “But if we come out and really press and play our game and play like a playoff team, we’ll find ourselves in a good position.”

Working in Seattle’s favor is their stellar record at home, where they are 3-1-2 and haven’t lost since dropping the season-opener to the Montreal Impact on March 2. In their last three at CenturyLink Field, they topped the San Jose Earthquakes 4-0, FC Dallas 4-2 and the Whitecaps FC 3-2.

Those high-scoring affairs are indicative of a team that is highly motivated by the raucous crowds at their home stadium and the team is looking forward to getting back to CenturyLink Field for just the second time in 47 days.

“You talk about that energy on gameday, going to the stadium and seeing all the scarves and Sounders jerseys, you feel the pride of playing for this franchise,” said forward Eddie Johnson, who scored in his last two appearances at CenturyLink Field – one for Sounders FC and one with the U.S. National Team in a win in a World Cup qualifier over Panama. “For a forward, there’s nothing more beautiful than scoring a goal and hearing how loud it is here. You miss that.”

Sounders FC will look to the match on Wednesday to set the tone for a busy month of July that will see them play five matches, including three at CenturyLink Field. After playing just three matches in June, they are looking to gain some ground in the standings with their busy month and that starts Wednesday against D.C.

“This is a big month for us,” Schmid said. “We have a chance to win some series with teams and that’s always a goal. It’s about getting our rhythm this week and getting our understanding down and making sure that we’re sharp, ready and healthy.”