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Sounders off, look ahead to Dallas on Saturday

Post by Don Ruiz / The News Tribune on May 14, 2013 at 7:58 am with No Comments »
May 14, 2013 1:28 pm

The Sounders are off today, so not much news expected. Meanwhile, here are some notes from the club previewing the week ahead:

Sounders FC is set for a Western Conference clash on Saturday night as the league-leading FC Dallas visit the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT.

Saturday’s match will be televised live on KING 5 with Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller calling the action, and can also be heard on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM. The Spanish broadcasts are available on THIS-TV (KOMO 4.2) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.

Riding a wave of momentum, Sounders FC (3-3-3, 12 points) extended its unbeaten streak to five games with a pair of wins last week.

In a midweek battle at Kansas City, center back Djimi Traore scored the game-winner in second-half stoppage time to lead Seattle to its fourth late win over Sporting KC. Three days later, Sounders FC had its scoring outbreak of the young season, dropping four goals on San Jose en route to its third win in four games.

Michael Gspurning and the Seattle defense have matched the offensive power, posting four clean sheets over the past five outings. Gspurning currently holds the longest active shutout streak in MLS at 219 minutes.

Seattle will face tough opposition in the red-hot FC Dallas (7-1-3, 24 points), who are currently riding a league-best nine game (6-0-3) unbeaten streak, and have not lost since March 10. Following their 2-1 home win over DC United on Saturday, Dallas visits Seattle on Saturday for the first of three meetings this season.

Sounders FC dominated the 2012 series, earning two wins and a draw despite playing two away. Seattle holds the all-time advantage over Dallas at 4-1-4, with the lone loss coming at home in 2011.

Following Saturday’s match, Sounders FC has back-to-back trips to Los Angeles to face the Galaxy on May 26 and Chivas USA on June 1. Seattle will also enter the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at the end of the month, and will soon learn the opponent and location of the match.

Before the first team enters Open Cup play, the Sounders U23′s will take on the Coast Soccer League champions Doxa Italia on Tuesday night. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. PT at Sunset Chevrolet Stadium in Sumner, Wash.

Tickets for the Sounders U23′s match are available on www.SoundersU23.com for $10. All tickets are general admission, and season ticket holders receive admission to this match at no charge.

Single-match tickets to Sounders FC home matches are available through SoundersFC.com, all Ticketmaster Outlets, the CenturyLink Field Box Office or by calling 800-745-3000.

Heating Up: Unbeaten Streak Extended to Five
Sounders FC is heating up. The club is unbeaten over its past five outings (3-0-2) and has held four shutouts. The five-game undefeated streak is tied with New York for third-longest as FC Dallas and the Portland Timbers are both on nine-game unbeaten runs. The last league loss was on March 30, a 2-1 road result at Real Salt Lake, and Seattle’s three losses rank fourth-fewest in MLS. Seattle’s last five-game unbeaten streak lasted from August 18-September 15, 2012, going 3-0-2 over that span. Overall, Seattle has had an unbeaten run of five or more games nine times in club history, with the longest streak lasting nine games in 2011.

On Target: Sounders Scoring Goals
Sounders FC has returned to its goal scoring ways. Over the past five seasons, Seattle has scored the second-most goals (194) in MLS, and the team’s goal scoring proficiency was on display Saturday afternoon. The four-goal output was the most since August 25, 2012, in a 6-2 win at Chivas USA, and Seattle has scored at least one goal in the past four outings, totaling eight goals – four times the output from the first five matches of the season. The scoring rate is amongst the best in MLS as those eight goals have come from just 14 shots on goal. Sounders FC also extended its league-best unbeaten streak when scoring first to 36 games (28-0-8). The all-time record of 58 games, set by the New York Red Bulls, was snapped earlier this season.

Stingy Sounders: Four Shutouts in Five Games
Seattle’s offense may get most of the attention, but the team’s defense over the past month may be most impressive. Michael Gspurning and the Seattle defense have held four shutouts in the past five games, and the club ranks second in goals against average (0.78). Gspurning’s 219-minute shutout streak is the longest active streak in MLS, and he already posted the fourth-longest shutout streak this season (285 minutes from March 30-May 4).

Seattle’s defensive unit has done more than keep the opposition out of the net as the back line has contributed to the offense in the past three outings. In Philadelphia, Leo Gonzalez assisted on Mauro Rosales’ equalizer and, four days later, Zach Scott’s throw-in led to Djimi Traore’s stoppage time winner in Kansas City. On Saturday, defensive midfielder Servando Carrasco registered his first MLS assist when he found Lamar Neagle for his second goal of the game.

More Games, More Points
The Sounders prefer games over training, so when the competition scheduled gets congested Seattle plays some of its best soccer. Over an eight-day stretch, Sounders FC secured seven out of a possible nine points, including a win and draw on the road. The stretch marked the 10th occasion in club history that Seattle played three league matches in an eight-day span, and the recent run was one of the team’s best. Overall, Sounders FC improved to 14-7-8 in such matches, outscoring opponents 43-32. Seattle has also scored in all but five of those games, including 13 multi-goal games, and has held 10 shutouts.

Sounders Season Series
Saturday’s win over San Jose leveled the season series with the Earthquakes following a 1-0 loss at Buck Shaw Stadium in March. Sounders FC has won (Kansas City), lost (Montreal) and tied (Philadelphia) season series so far, and has taken the advantage on San Jose and Colorado and tied with Portland. The only season series that the team trails is Salt Lake, down by one goal following a 2-1 road loss.

Local Boy Shines: Neagle Nets Two
Lamar Neagle became the first Sounders FC player to score multiple goals in a single game this season. He is now tied with Eddie Johnson for the team-lead with three goals across all competitions, and also co-leads the team in MLS scoring with his two goals. Neagle has scored nine goals in 51 career appearances, seven of which were scored with Seattle. All nine of his league goals have been scored in wins, and his brace on Saturday marked his first league goals for Sounders FC since his hat trick on August 27, 2011.

Mauro Goes for Free
Mauro Rosales’ bending free kick marked his first goal directly from a free kick since joining Sounders FC in 2011. It was the fifth goal scored directly from a free kick in club history, and first since 2011. Rosales now has two goals and three assists in 552 minutes, including two goals and two assists in his last two starts. He has now recorded a goal and assist in the same game five times in his MLS career. Overall, Sounders FC has gone 19-2-7 when Rosales scores or assists.

Stepping Up: New Lineup, Same Result
Head coach Sigi Schmid’s lineup choices have been forced upon him this season as national team call-ups, injuries, suspensions and personal reasons have kept regular first-teamers out of the starting group. Saturday’s Starting XI marked the 13th different lineup in 13 games across all competitions. It also marked the fourth time that leading scorer Eddie Johnson played up front with top assist man Mauro Rosales on the right. In those four games, the team has scored 10 of its 14 goals with Rosales recording two goals and three assists and Johnson scoring twice with one helper. Overall, Schmid has started 21 different players and 24 have made an appearance.

Two standouts from last week were defender Zach Scott and midfielder Servando Carrasco. After a career year in 2012, Scott continues to help solidify Seattle’s defense, starting at right back at Kansas City and center back versus San Jose. His 22 clearances on Saturday were double that of any player, and he also blocked a game-high three shots. Carrasco’s three starts in eight days surpassed his 2012 season total as the 24-year-old midfielder has already played 41 more minutes than last year, and he also registered the first of his three-year career.

FC Dallas Series Notes
Sounders FC has dominated the all-time series against FC Dallas, posting a record of 4-1-4, including two wins and a draw in the 2012 season series. Seattle earned a 3-1 home win in the last meeting on October 21, 2012 behind Brad Evans’ brace, and the lone loss in the series came at CenturyLink Field in 2011. Sounders FC has only been shutout once in the nine regular-season meetings, having scored multiple goals four times. The two sides will meet again on August 3 at CenturyLink Field with the final meeting of the season at FC Dallas Stadium on October 19.

About Dallas
Dallas currently holds the top spot in the West with 21 points (7-1-3), six points ahead of second-place Portland. Dallas is tied for the league-lead with a plus-seven goal differential (18/11) and have yet to lose at home (6-0-1). However, they are just 1-1-2 on the road with a minus-one goal differential. Amidst a nine-match unbeaten streak (6-0-3), Dallas has not lost since the second game of the season on March 10. The team recently downed DC United 2-1 on Saturday, and drew 1-1 with Portland last Wednesday.

FCD Notables
Despite having scored 18 goals so far this season (tied-second in MLS), Dallas does not have a player with over three goals scored. They have, however, seen nine players score a goal and 11 record a point, led by Brazilian international Jackson with three goals and two assists. Forwards Blas Perez, who led the team with nine goals last season, is tied with Jackson with three goals, while Kenny Cooper, who was 2012 Golden Boot runner-up with 18 goals for New York, has added two. Left back Michel has recorded three assists while appearing in every game so far this season. Peruvian goalkeeper Raul Fernandez is off to a great start in his first MLS season, picking up four shutouts in nine starts and recording 44 saves in the process. He ranks 10th in MLS with a 1.11 goals against average.

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