Seattle look to take advantage of softer June schedule

TUKWILA, Wash. — By tradition, pro athletes aren’t supposed to look ahead in the schedule. But if they did, the Sounders might like what they see.

Five matches against teams with a combined record of 11-21-29 await the Seattle in the month of June. Included in that schedule are games against with a pair of one-win teams who have just undergone coaching changes: Vancouver and this weekend’s opponent, the Chicago Fire (Saturday, 8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).

Additionally, there’s only one midweek match mixed in, the ESPN-televised Thursday night matchup with New York.

The comparatively soft schedule should give the Sounders a chance to make up ground in the Western Conference standings.

“I haven’t even thought that far ahead. Vancouver is in the same spot [as Chicago],” said defender Jeff Parke. “They have a new coach, so that’s going to be a difficult game. They are tough games, but there are points to be had. Hopefully we can get three points and maybe six between the two of them. It’s definitely a month to gain some ground and take some points when we can.”

With the US Open Cup and qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League on the horizon in late summer, the Sounders will appreciate the road given to them by the schedule-makers.

The first step is to get off on the right foot against Chicago, a team that some think is better than the record would indicate.

“It’s not like they’ve been beaten in games they’ve played,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said of the Fire. “They haven’t gotten results … but they haven’t been thrashed in any of the games.”

Parke said that Seattle hit a hot streak towards the end of the 2010 season, posting a 10-2-3 record over the second half of the season before slumping out of the playoffs. However, late-season schedule congestion might have taken a toll, which is why Seattle want to get as many points as possible now.

“Who knows how our bodies are going to be holding up at the end of the year or how the team is going to be doing,” Parke said. “You don’t want to look back and say those were points we should have grabbed.”

Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS