Seattle road trip a familiar challenge for optimistic DC

While the frenetic crowds and energy in the Pacific Northwest can overwhelm and trouble some visiting teams, D.C. United have enjoyed success there.

DC haven’t lost to the Sounders at CenturyLink Field in two previous trips to Seattle, and they’ll put that mark to the test again on Saturday (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online) against a Seattle team with Supporters’ Shield aspirations.

“I’m excited,” former Sounder Stephen King said of the matchup. “I think it’s such a fun atmosphere with their fans and for the game to be in such an important part of the season for us.”

DC’s previous trips have produced wild encounters. Last year a Chris Pontius brace powered United to a 3-2 win, and DC erased a 3-1 deficit to come away with a point and a 3-3 draw in Seattle’s expansion season,

United come into the latest matchup fresh off a 3-0 win over Chivas USA last weekend, but they’re under no illusion that this second road outing in the span of a week will be as easy as the first one.

“We feel good about what we did against Chivas, but by no means can we get at all complacent,” King said. “We need to stay focused, and if anything, ramp it up a little bit and intensify our workouts and keep this thing going.”

The visitors have trained in Los Angeles all week and will look to take the field, relax and enjoy the atmosphere – all while fighting for a result. They’re currently in the 10th and final playoff spot, two points behind the Houston Dynamo and one point ahead of both the New York Red Bulls and Portland Timbers.

“If we go in there and relish the moment, have a good time, and enjoy what we’re doing it gives us that much better of a chance to get out of there with some points,” assistant coach Chad Ashton told MLSsoccer.com.

Since the teams met back on May 4 at RFK Stadium (a 2-1 win for DC), Seattle have evolved into one of the league’s toughest sides to play this season. In the month of August, the Sounders went 7-0-1 across all competitions before losing last weekend against Real Salt Lake in league play.

That loss was the third in 14 league games this season at home for the Sounders. D.C. United, meanwhile, boast a 5-4-4 record on the road this season, tops in the Eastern Conference and fourth best in the league.

This weekend’s game comes in the middle of Seattle’s grueling CONCACAF Champions League schedule, and the club played in Costa Rica on Wednesday. DC are hoping to take advantage of their opponents’ short week and take the initiative on the Sounders’ home turf.

“We are catching them at a time when they’re playing a lot of games, so we’re hoping that some of that travel and some of those games will tax on them a little bit and slow them down,” Ashton said.

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.