Preview: Seattle, DC clash with huge playoff implications

Seattle Sounders vs. D.C. United

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CENTURYLINK FIELD, Seattle, Wash.
9 p.m. ET (KONG; CSN-MA; watch LIVE online)
September 17, 2011 (WEEK 27; MLS Game 261)

Seattle Sounders FC can all but secure a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs when they play host to D.C. United — in a vital game for their playoff ambitions — on Saturday evening at CenturyLink Field. With a win, and results in Portland and Houston going their way, Sounders FC will secure their spot in the top 10, despite a 2-1 home loss to Real Salt Lake last week. United are holding onto the final wild card spot, in 10th place overall, after their 3-0 win at Chivas USA.

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REFEREE: Kevin Stott. SAR (bench): Eric Boria; JAR (opposite): Anthony Vasoli; 4th: Yader Reyes
MLS Career: 208 games; FC/gm: 25.8; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 57; pens: 43

INJURY REPORT: SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC — OUT: GK Terry Boss (concussion); MF Michael Seamon (lateral ankle tendon); MF Steve Zakuani (R leg fracture); FW O'Brian White (leg surgery); QUESTIONABLE: MF Erik Friberg (hip flexor strain); PROBABLE: MF Brad Evans (hamstring strain); MF Osvaldo Alonso (adductor strain) ... D.C. UNITED — OUT: MF Branko Boskovic (L knee ACL tear); MF Chris Pontius (R tibia fracture); DF Jed Zayner (L knee sprain); QUESTIONABLE: GK Steve Cronin (R shoulder strain); DF Dejan Jakovic (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: GK Bill Hamid (R hamstring strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: SEA: Servando Carrasco (caution accumulation; through Sept. 17); Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (through Sept. 17)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: SEA: Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Fredy Montero, Tyson Wahl
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: SEA: Alvaro Fernandez, James Riley, Zach Scott ... DC: Austin da Luz, Charlie Davies, Dwayne De Rosario, Brandon McDonald, Ethan White

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (5 meetings): Sounders FC 2 wins, 9 goals ... United 2 wins, 9 goals ... Ties 1
AT SEATTLE (2 meetings): Sounders FC 0 wins, 5 goals ... United 1 win, 6 goals ... Ties 1

  • In the first meeting this year, goal from Josh Wolff and Charlie Davies on either side of halftime sent United on their way to a 2-1 victory, May 4 at RFK Stadium.
  • It was United's first win against Sounders FC at RFK Stadium. Seattle had won their previous two league meetings in the nation's capital, as well as the 2009 U.S. Open Cup Final, the first of historic back-to-back Open Cup titles for the club.
  • Sounders FC have yet to win on their home ground, though, against D.C. United. The teams played to a draw in their first meeting in Seattle, then United came away with a victory last year.
  • Coaches record: Sigi Schmid v DC: P29 W15 L10 D4 ... Ben Olsen vs. SEA: P1 W1 L0 D0

LAST MEETING (MLS)
5/4: DC 2, SEA 1 (Wolff 31; Davies 52 — Evans 71)

  • United struck first in the 31st minute. Andy Najar's through ball found Davies in space down the right flank. After shrugging off the challenge of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Davies squared a perfect ball for Josh Wolff, who slammed a shot first-time past Kasey Keller.
  • The same offensive trio teamed to double D.C.'s lead in the 52nd minute. Najar once again created space on the ball, and slotted in Wolff on the right wing. Wolff this time played provider, sending in an inch-perfect cross for Davies to tap home for his league-leading sixth goal of the season.
  • Sounders FC pulled a goal back when Fredy Montero won a penalty, and Brad Evans converted from the spot, but Seattle could not maintain their perfect record at RFK Stadium.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-4-2): Bill Hamid — Perry Kitchen, Ethan White, Dejan Jakovic, Daniel Woolard — Andy Najar (Fred 77), Dax McCarty, Clyde Simms (Stephen King 82), Chris Pontius (Santino Quaranta 49) — Charlie Davies, Josh Wolff.
  • SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-1-3-2): Kasey Keller — James Riley (Mauro Rosales 59), Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl — Osvaldo Alonso — Brad Evans, Erik Friberg, Alvaro Fernandez (Leo Gonzalez 76) — Fredy Montero, Nate Jaqua (Roger Levesque 64).

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

Seattle Sounders FC saw their unbeaten streaks come to an end, falling 2-1 to Real Salt Lake at CenturyLink Field. Sounders FC have 48 points from 28 games on the season, in second place in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Real Salt Lake were handed a stunning lead after 13 minutes. RSL's Fabián Espíndola sent in a seemingly harmless cross from the left, but Keller all but through it into his goal while looking to put it over the line for a corner.
  • Sounders FC had a chance to pull level in the 16th minute, but Mauro Rosales put his penalty kick wide after striker Mike Fucito was taken down in the box by RSL defender Jámison Olave.
  • Both teams then went a man down in the space of four minutes. RSL's Tony Beltran received a second yellow card for a challenge against Rosales in the 35th minute, but Seattle's Jhon Kennedy Hurtado saw a straight red in the 39th minute after a foul on Alvaro Saborío.
  • Yet the home side were able to hit for the equalizer in first-half stoppage time. Rosales turned the corner on the left and sent a return pass back across for Fredy Montero, who converted from close range.
  • But after the break RSL again took the lead. Álvaro Saborío took a pass in the area, and after his first attempt was blocked and Sounders FC defender Tyson Wahl failed to clear, he again latched onto the ball and sent it to the back of the net.
  • Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid made one change to the team that rolled to a club-record 6-2 win against the Columbus Crew at CenturyLink Field. Alvaro Fernandez came into the midfield for Lamar Neagle.
  • SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-1-3-2): Kasey Keller - James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (sent off 39), Tyson Wahl - Osvaldo Alonso - Mauro Rosales, Erik Friberg (Servando Carrasco 31), Alvaro Fernandez (Lamar Neagle 65) - Fredy Montero, Mike Fucito (Pat Noonan 73).

TEAM NEWS

  • Sounders FC lost for the first time in league play since May 25 at CenturyLink Field in their 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake, putting an end to their four-game league unbeaten streak (eight games in all competitions).
  • "Everybody is still catchable. This league is always a streaky league, so for us now it's just a matter of — you know, just like after the game against Houston — we've just got to get back after it and take care of business the way we want to," said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid.
  • For the third time in eight penalty attempts this season, Sounders FC failed to score. For the club's history, they are 6-for-12 from the spot in league matches.
  • "It's been different people, so I don't what else to do in terms of that," said Schmid. íI mean, when we miss PKs in games, it costs us. We missed one in LA and ended up with a tie. We missed one against Chivas and ended up with a tie. (Against RSL) we missed one, and it would have given us a tie. So obviously that's disappointing. I think right now it's maybe in people's heads because we have missed some."
  • Sounders FC were forced into an early change when Erik Friberg had to come off just after the opening half hour. "He felt something. I don't know exactly if it was his groin or his adductor, but obviously we had to take him out," said Schmid.
  • Keller's own goal was the first credited to a goalkeeper this season, and the eighth in league history.
  • "It was a good cross into the box, and I scrambled to get it, and it kind of checked off the turf a little bit," Keller said. "I didn't want to leave a rebound out in the middle, so I tried to hook it out for a corner and just got too much on it and ended up hooking it into my own net. Simple at that ó it was my fault."
  • Sounders FC could become the second team to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs this year, with a victory against D.C. United, and a loss by the Portland Timbers (Friday vs. New England) AND a loss or a tie by the Houston Dynamo, Saturday vs. San Jose.
  • "The sooner we can achieve our goal of advancing to the quarterfinals of CONCACAF then that allows us to focus a little more on our goal in MLS," Schmid said. "Right now we're trying to keep both goals in our sight but the game Saturday against D.C. is very important for league, the game against Herediano at home is also very important, and the game on Wednesday is like a bonus game so if we can get three points out of that it's a huge bonus."
  • On Wednesday, Sounders FC maintained their perfect record in the CONCACAF Champions League after a 2-1 win against CS Herediano in Costa Rica. Fredy Montero put Seattle ahead after just three minutes, and after Jose Cancela converted a penalty kick just before halftime to level terms, Montero restored the advantage nine minutes into the second half.
  • Here's the Sounders FC team: Kasey Keller, Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, Roger Levesque (James Riley 90), Servando Carrasco, Alvaro Fernandez, Lamar Neagle (Amadou Sanyang 83), Fredy Montero, Nate Jaqua (Pat Noonan 73).

D.C. UNITED

D.C. United rebounded from a loss, strolling to a 3-0 victory against Chivas USA on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. United have 34 points from 25 games on the year, sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • United took the lead after just 11 minutes. Dwayne De Rosario pounced on a loose ball in the center circle and set Chris Pontius free on the right flank. He raced downfield before driving a low ball across the face of goal that a sliding Charlie Davies hooked into the goal.
  • United doubled their lead just four minutes later. A failed clearance by right back Ben Zemanski fell right onto the foot of Pontius, who sent a square ball to Davies in the area for the simplest of finishes.
  • The visitors put the match out of reach in the 66th minute as Pontius and Davies combined one last time on a counter, Pontius this time freed down the left by De Rosario before sliding over a pass for Davies to thump home to complete his hat trick.
  • Just seconds later, David Junior Lopes clattered in Pontius and was shown a red card, Pontius carried from the field on a stretcher.
  • United coach Ben Olsen made four changes to the team that fell to a 1-0 defeat by Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park. Bill Hamid returned from suspension for Joe Willis, Ethan White replaced Dejan Jakovic in central defense, and there was an all-change strike pair of Charlie Davies and Dwayne De Rosario, replacing Blake Brettschneider and Josh Wolff.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-1-3-2): Bill Hamid - Perry Kitchen, Ethan White, Brandon McDonald, Daniel Woolard - Clyde Simms (Stephen King 46) - Andy Najar, Santino Quaranta (Austin da Luz 62), Chris Pontius (Marc Burch 73) - Charlie Davies, Dwayne De Rosario.

TEAM NEWS

  • D.C. United's Charlie Davies moved into third place in the MLS Golden Boot standings with his hat trick in the 3-0 win against Chivas USA, his first goals since June 25.
  • "This past week after the break did a lot for me. I was able to really clear my mind, get fit, and this whole week I've worked really hard. I finally felt 100 percent mentally and 100 percent physically, and I hadn't felt like that in a long time. ... [Dwayne De Rosario] was really harping on me being a hard worker and making my runs and it showed today."
  • Chris Pontius set up all three goals with the primary assist, and De Rosario added a secondary assist on two of the Davies finishes.
  • "We worked on running in behind, and I thought our movement was good. I saw Charlie Davies back today, which is a great sign for the club. Dwayne was himself, just making big time plays. And the defense [did well] in getting a shutout. It was overall a good night for us," said United head coach Ben Olsen.
  • But seconds after setting up the third Davies goal, United's Chris Pontius suffered a non-displaced fracture of the tibia on his right ankle that could put him out for the remainder of the season.
  • "The chemistry we had in that one game together, it was like we had been playing together for years," said Davies to The Washington Post. "It's sad to see because the lineup we had out there was so dynamic and we were playing at our very best. Now we're losing a tremendous player for us all year."
  • It marked the third time in the last five games that United have scored more than three goals in a game. They are now fourth in the league with 1.48 goals per game (37 in 26 games), after scoring a league-low 21 goals in 30 games last season.
  • "We were confident with our front four or five guys that we were better than their backs. We thought we could get at them," said Santino Quaranta. "The energy was good and the partnerships we created were pretty good. We wound up scoring goals and that makes the game a lot easier. [Sometimes] you come out and you're all over a team but you don't score and you keep them in it."
  • After the trip to Seattle, United return home for back-to-back games, beginning with the reverse fixture against Chivas USA. They start the week holding the final wild card spot, 10th overall with 34 points, having played the fewest number of games of any team in the league.
  • "We know the playoffs are nine games away. We want to be in the top three, forget the wild card. The push starts now," said Davies. "We know this was a very important game. Chivas has 31 points, we had 31 points. We came out and showed that if we work hard we're a very tough team to play against. We just got to keep it going and make sure we stay healthy, that's the biggest thing."