Preview: Seattle open MLS season at home against TFC

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC vs TORONTO FC
CENTURYLINK FIELD, Seattle, Wash.
March 17, 2012 (WEEK 2, MLS Game #14)
7 p.m. PT (KONG; SNET One)

Two teams who have had their attention on the CONCACAF Champions League in the last two weeks finally kick off their 2012 MLS campaigns, when Seattle Sounders FC meets Toronto FC at CenturyLink Field. Sounders FC saw their CCL dreams come to an end, falling to Mexico's Santos Laguna on aggregate at midweek, but Toronto FC have advanced to the semifinals after dumping the defending MLS champion LA Galaxy out of the competition.

REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. SAR (bench): Jeff Hosking; JAR (opposite): Mike Kampmeinert; 4th: Ramon Hernandez
MLS Career: 144 games; FC/gm: 27.0; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 42; pens: 54

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INJURY REPORT:

  • SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC - OUT: GK Josh Ford (knee pain); FW O'Brian White (leg surgery); MF Steve Zakuani (leg fracture)
  • TORONTO FC - OUT: FW Nicholas Lindsay (L knee surgery recovery); DF Dicoy Williams (R knee surgery recovery); DF Jeremy Hall (sports hernia surgery recovery); QUESTIONABLE: DF Adrian Cann (R knee surgery recovery)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: TOR: Matt Stinson, Doneil Henry (CAN U-23)

SUSPENDED: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (6 meetings): Sounders FC 4 wins, 9 goals ... Toronto FC 1 win, 4 goals ... Ties 1

AT SEATTLE (3 meetings): Sounders FC 2 wins, 6 goals ... Toronto FC 0 wins, 2 goals ... Ties 1

LAST YEAR (MLS):

4/30: SEA 3, TOR 0 (Fernandez 9; Evans 52, 75)
6/18: TOR 0, SEA 1 (Montero 90)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • Sounders FC have won the last three meetings between the teams, including both encounters in 2011. TFC has been shut out in four of six meetings all-time with Seattle.
  • Coaches record: Sigi Schmid vs. TOR: P12 W7 L1 D4 ... Aron Winter vs. SEA: P2 W0 L2 D0

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

  • Seattle Sounders FC begin their fourth season aiming to get over the hump and advance deeper into the MLS Cup Playoffs than ever before. The club has attracted record-setting crowds to CenturyLink Field, though each of the three MLS seasons thus far have come to an end at the Western Conference Semifinal Series.
  • Sounders FC were dumped out of the CONCACAF Champions League at midweek, losing 6-1 to Club Santos Laguna at Estadio Corona in Torreon, Mexico, dropping the tie 7-3 on aggregate.
  • Herculez Gomez and Christian Suarez each scored twice and Oribe Peralta and Carlos Ochoa scored for Santos. Alvaro Fernandez pulled a goal for Seattle just before halftime to level the series, before the home side scored four goals after the break.
  • Here's the Sounders FC team: Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez (Christian Sivebaek 77), Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez, David Estrada (Eddie Johnson 62, Roger Levesque 81), Fredy Montero
  • The loss was the worst loss in a competitive match in the club's MLS history.
  • "Defensively I thought we had a poor game today," Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said. "I think they won the duels. ... When they win all the 50-50 balls, it's tough for your team to gain momentum. Like I say, it's easy to point fingers and say this guy or that guy didn't have a good game. Us as a coaching staff, we need to look at it and we need to see what we need to do to avoid these kinds of things in the future."
  • It was a difficult baptism for goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, signed in the offseason to replace the retired Kasey Keller. He made his Sounders FC debut in the first leg the week earlier.
  • "I don't care about the result or anything after it's over," Gspurning said. "What I care about and what the team cares about is Saturday and our opening game of the season. ... We have to keep our head up and work on Saturday."
  • In the first leg, David Estrada scored his first competitive goal for Sounders FC and Brad Evans tallied early in the second half to give Seattle a 2-1 win at CenturyLink Field.
  • Here's the Sounders FC team: Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Alvaro Fernandez (Eddie Johnson 78'), David Estrada (Marc Burch 93'), Fredy Montero
  • Forward Cordell Cato has been called by the Trinidad & Tobago U-23 national team for the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament and will away for likely the next couple of weeks.
  • Sounders FC could be without offseason signing Eddie Johnson for the MLS season opener. He came on in the 62nd minute of the game in Mexico, but had to leave less than 20 minutes later with a hip flexor injury.
  • "We expect Eddie to have a very good season for Seattle. Obviously he missed the majority of our preseason and our fitness and all that. We want to bring him along in the appropriate way so that he can play all season and not suffer a setback," Schmid said before the game in Mexico.

OFFSEASON TRANSACTIONS

  • IN: G Michael Gspurning (12/7: free/Skoda Xanthi); D Marc Burch (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/D.C. United); D Adam Johansson (12/29: free/Gˆteborg); M Christian Sivebaek (1/11: free/Midtjylland); D Andrew Duran (1/12: SuperDraft); F Babayele Sodade (1/12: SuperDraft); D Tim Pontius (1/17: supplemental draft); M Andy Rose (1/17: trade from Real Salt Lake); F Cordell Cato (1/18: free/Defence Force FC); F Eddie Johnson (2/17: trade from Montreal); G Andrew Weber (3/2: free)
  • OUT: G Kasey Keller (11/2: retired); D James Riley (11/23: to Chivas USA, via expansion draft); D Tyson Wahl (11/23: trade to Montreal); GK Terry Boss (12/2: retired); D Taylor Graham (12/2, retired); F Nate Jaqua (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/New England); F Pat Noonan (12/12: Re-Entry Stage 2/LA Galaxy); M Erik Friberg (12/12: transfer/Malmˆ); F Mike Fucito (2/17: trade to Montreal); M Lamar Neagle (2/17: trade to Montreal)

TORONTO FC

  • Toronto FC has a very expressed goal heading into their fifth MLS season - reach the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time. A year ago, TFC again finished outside the postseason chase, ending the season in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 33 points.
  • Before playing their first league game of the year, Toronto FC perhaps pulled off the shock result of the year, knocking out the LA Galaxy in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. TFC won 2-1 at The Home Depot Center, winning the tie 4-3 on aggregate.
  • Ryan Johnson scored his second goal of the series in the first half to put TFC ahead, then after an own goal leveled terms once again, Nick Soolsma scored midway through the second half to give the Reds an historic victory.
  • Here's the TFC team: Milos Kocic; Richard Eckersley, Ty Harden, Miguel Aceval, Ashtone Morgan; Torsten Frings, Julian de Guzman (Luis Silva 63'), Ryan Johnson; Nick Soolsma, Danny Koevermans (Aaron Maund 69'), Joao Plata (Terry Dunfield 46').
  • "I'm very proud because it was a great victory," TFC head coach Aron Winter said to The Toronto Star. "We played like a team. We won like a team. And, we made history."
  • The Galaxy had not lost at home in more than a year and went undefeated over the entirety of the 2011 season in all competitions at The Home Depot Center - but lost twice in four days with the CCL defeat.
  • In the first leg, Ryan Johnson and Luis Silva knocked in goals in the first 18 minutes to give TFC the lead, but Mike Magee turned home a deflected cross from Sean Franklin in the 29th minute, then Landon Donovan scored the leveler from a goalmouth scramble off a corner kick with just two minutes to play.
  • Here's the Toronto FC team: Stefan Frei; Ty Harden, Torsten Frings, Miguel Aceval; Richard Eckersley, Terry Dunfield (Matt Stinson 91+), Luis Silva (Aaron Maund 88'), Ashtone Morgan; Ryan Johnson, Danny Kovermans, Joao Plata (Reggie Lambe 58').
  • The match was played in front of a crowd of 47,658 at Rogers Centre, the regular home of the Toronto Blue Jays and CFL Toronto Argonauts.
  • "It was amazing, everyone enjoyed it. It was fantastic playing in front of a big home crowd and of course it was a shame for us and for the people that they tied it in the last minute. If you ask me we should make BMO bigger or move here so we can always play in front of 40,000 people." Danny Koevermans said.
  • Defenders Matt Stinson and Doneil Henry have been called into Canada's U-23 national team for the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

OFFSEASON TRANSACTIONS

  • IN: D Jeremy Hall (11/29: trade from Dallas); M Reggie Lambe (12/7: free/Ipswich Town); M Luis Silva (1/12: SuperDraft); D Aaron Maund (1/12: SuperDraft); D Geovanny Caicedo (1/26: LDU Quito); D Miguel Aceval (1/30: Universidad de ConcepciÛn)
  • OUT: D Kyle Davies (11/23: waived); M Matt Gold (11/23: waived); M Leandre Griffit (11/23: waived); F Javier Martina (11/23: waived); D Demitrius Omphroy (11/23: waived); D Eddy Viator (11/23: waived); M Gianluca Zavarise (11/23: waived); D Danleigh Borman (12/5: Re-Entry Stage 1/New England); M Nathan Sturgis (12/29: Trade to Houston) F Mikael Yourassowsky (1/18: waived); D Andy Iro (1/20: declined extension); F Peri Marosevic (1/20: declined extension); M Elbekay Bouchiba (2/28: waived)