Mark Twain and coach Sigi Schmid agree that statistics sometimes lie.
Here are Schmid’s takes on some of the numbers relevant — or maybe not — to the Sounders’ match Saturday at Chivas USA. (Some answers edited for space and clarity):
* Chivas has a better record on the road (4-2-4) than at home (3-7-2).
Schmid: “That’s a little bit hard to explain. Some teams are a little more conservative when they play away from home, so that puts a little more pressure on the home team to be able to break down a team that’s sitting back or is a little more organized. And offensively — whether they’ve been at home or away — they haven’t scored a lot of goals. So now breaking down a team that has a little more of a conservative game plan becomes maybe more difficult for them. And then playing away from home when a team is attacking you, then it opens up a little for you if you have some people – (Juan) Agudelo has some speed, (Juan Pablo) Angel is good at getting on the end of crosses — who can get into flank areas before the other team gets organized, and they can take advantage of that.”
* The Sounders have the best record in MLS when scoring the first goal (11-0-1), but are 0-6-4 when conceding the first goal.
Schmid: “Every team has a phenomenal disparity in their record as to when they score first and when they don’t score first. So even though we have the best record, there’s a lot of good records that way. Scoring first is just important because it changes the game and forces the other team to be a little more aggressive, a little more offensive. And it changes for the team with the lead because now spaces open up a little bit, you play with a little more confidence and so forth. We’ve had some opportunities for comebacks. We haven’t taken advantage of those in the same way that we did last year, but I’d rather not have us be a team that has to come back week after week. San Jose has done it a lot this year, and their record shows it, and they’ve been very successful. But sometimes that luck runs out on you and you can’t always come back. So, we always want to score first; it just makes the game easier. But we also believe if the opponent scores first that we have the capabilities of coming back.”
* Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning leads MLS with a 0.57 goals-against average, but is second to last (among keepers with a minimum of 700 minutes played) with 23 saves.
Schmid: “Stats are a funny thing. (Although Gspurning was credited for no saves in the 2-0 win over Vancouver last week) I think he was called upon to make a couple of plays and a couple of saves for us as well. It wasn’t exactly a save-less game. … But I’m very happy with the fact that we got a shutout. I’m very happy that we’re limiting opportunities.”
* Chivas USA averages 13,559 fans per home game, second-to-last (New England) in MLS.
Schmid: “It’s a tough market. It’s been tough for Chivas really playing mostly in the shadow of the Galaxy in the same building. I know they’re probably working toward – and probably a good solution for the club – is getting their own stadium, and as a result with that maybe more their own identity. But the L.A. market is definitely a lot tougher. If you don’t have a good half, it’s very possible you get booed as you come off the field at halftime. If you don’t have a good game or a good result, it’s possible that you’re booed at the end of the game. Whether you say ‘I can deal with that’ or not, it leaves a little bit of an impression.”