The Sounders are coming up to an interesting month of their schedule where they leave league play a little and begin meeting teams of different levels: Wednesday against the Timbers, mid-month against Chelsea, early next month against Barcelona.
I asked Kasey Keller about the stretch a little bit on Sunday, and while he admitted pressure when Seattle visits Portland, he also pointed out that there would be no pressure when the Sounders meet Chelsea
"Actually it’s kind of cool, to be honest," he said. "I mean let’s not kid ourselves, this Open Cup game on Wednesday is a big deal. But after that you’re looking at the Chelsea game, which is fun. There’s no pressure there, we’re supposed to (lose), and it doesn’t mean anything. So for us, it’s an opportunity to get some guys a chance to play against some world-class opposition, and test themselves. So that’s kind of a fun week just to kind of switch off mentally and just be ready physically."
And really he’s right, even forgetting the perceived level of any of the teams, simply because Portland is cup play, while Chelsea is a pure friendly.
But then this afternoon, I was interviewing Portland coach Gavin Wilkinson, and he also weighed in pretty heavily with the expectations game, saying all the pressure will be on Seattle on Wednesday.
"Seattle cannot lose to Portland," he said. "Seattle is an MLS team. For us it’s a matter of going in, enjoying the experience and playing the game. For Seattle, they’re taking a huge step in going to MLS, and this is a game they must win. The urgency of the game, while I think they’re looking forward to it, they also understand the seriousness of the event."
Anyway, I think it’s a fascinating part of the schedule coming up, and that’s what I wrote about in the Tuesday paper.