Sounders FC vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Saturday, July 19; 1 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: ESPN2; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; ESPN Deportes Radio, 1490 AM (Spanish)
On Saturday afternoon, Sounders FC hosts Tottenham Hotspur in an international friendly at CenturyLink Field. And while the tendency will be for people to use the match as a measuring stick for the growth of soccer in America, MLS and Seattle, Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid thinks those comparisons are a bit premature considering the two teams are in different parts of their seasons and there is nothing tangible at stake for either team.
“We’re going out there and we’re going to try to play well,” said Schmid, who has the Sounders atop the MLS Supporters’ Shield standings at 12-4-2. “To say that we’re having a good run and it’s a measure of our league, I think people read too much into it when they look at it that way.”
No matter the result on Saturday, Seattle captain Brad Evans is clear that it is not an indication of progress or lack thereof. The focus is on success in league play and the U.S. Open Cup as Sounders FC is still in play for three major trophies this season – the Supporters’ Shield, where it holds a six-point lead over the second place New York Red Bulls, the Open Cup, where it is in the semifinal for the fifth time in six seasons, and MLS Cup.
“We’re playing for an MLS Cup and whether we win 5-nothing or lose 5-nothing, that’s not a telling tale of what we’ve done this season. The mindset is different and that’s the reality, but you want to have a good showing,” Evans said. “It’s a balancing act. It’s not fun to lose games, whether you’re in training or playing Tottenham. It doesn’t matter. You want to have some fun, but you also want to get some work out of it. We face, in my mind, the second best team aside from us in the league in LA [next Monday]. That will be our focus after this game.”
While the mindset going into the match may be different, Schmid intends to open the match with a lineup that closely resembles the one he used in a 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers last week. Once those players are on the field lined up against a highly-competitive Spurs side, it will be far from an afternoon kick-around.
“Once players get on the field, even when it’s an exhibition game, the adrenaline and the competitive juices take over,” Schmid said. “I think this will be a very competitive match … but at the end of the day it’s an exhibition game.”
In Tottenham Hotspur, Seattle meets a club that finished sixth in the Premier League last season. Sounders FC has ties to the London club, with former captain Kasey Keller playing four seasons at White Hart Lane from 2001-2005. More recently, Clint Dempsey played with Spurs for the 2012-2013 season before transferring to Seattle last summer.
Dempsey looks forward to the opportunity to face a club with a storied history like Tottenham Hotspur, but admits that the emotion is much different than if it was a league match.
“It’s a chance to play against a team that I played with before and had good memories with. I enjoyed my time there and the season that we had. But it’s just a friendly game,” Dempsey said. “It’s just part of their preseason. It’s just a friendly game for us. What’s most important for us is how we do in the season.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s match is scheduled for 1 pm PT. The match is included in season ticket packages and further tickets are available by visiting SoundersFC.com or by calling 1-877-MLS-GOAL.