During the eight-month MLS regular season, each team is bound to remain at home or on the road for extended swings. For instance, due to a multi-million dollar renovation to BMO Field, Toronto FC spent its first seven matches on the road, not playing at home until just this last weekend.
Though not nearly as bizarre as Toronto’s, Sounders FC also finds itself in an unusual situation.
Following a three-game road swing that concludes Saturday at Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the Rave Green will host four of their next five opponents at CenturyLink Field. After playing just one home match in almost two months, Seattle will host three of them in nine days.
“We’ve got to remind ourselves of that,” captain Brad Evans said of the upcoming home stretch. “We’ve got to be good going away from home, and if that means playing a bit more defensive, then that’s what it means. But the most important thing is to get a result on the road, whether that’s a tie or a win. I think after a long road stretch, you’d take either of those and then focus on the three games at home.”
Sounders FC returns to CenturyLink Field on May 23 to face Sporting Kansas City, a member of the Western Conference for the first time since 2004. Seattle then plays a midweek tilt with the Colorado Rapids on May 27 before hosting the New York Red Bulls four days later.
The Rave Green began their current road swing with a 3-1 win over New York City FC, followed by a 3-2 defeat to Columbus Crew SC this past weekend. Sigi Schmid’s team was disappointed in its performance on Saturday, but the Sounders also understand they are in difficult circumstances.
“Playing three away from home is always going to be tough,” Schmid said this week. “We’re a good road team, but it’s tough to imagine that you’re going to go 3-0-0 on the road.”
This weekend’s clash with Vancouver isn’t just another ordinary road match. The Sounders are extra eager to do battle with their rival Whitecaps, who clinched the 2014 Cascadia Cup by virtue of a 1-0 win at CenturyLink Field in October and are unbeaten in their last five matchups with Seattle.
Not to mention, Vancouver is currently in first place, four points ahead of the Rave Green.
“We want to close that gap. I think that’s the motivation for the game,” Schmid said. “I don’t think we have to look to last year for motivation – we just have to look up at the standings.”
Saturday’s match is the first of three meetings between the Sounders and Whitecaps in 2015. The game will kick off at 4:00 p.m. PT with local television coverage on Q13 FOX.