SEATTLE – Tuesday night’s friendly against Chivas de Guadalajara certainly fell during a busy, crucial time for the Seattle Sounders, who are jockeying for position in the upcoming MLS Cup Playoffs.
But after Seattle beat the Mexican powerhouse 3-1 while fielding a team of reserves, coach Sigi Schmid was emphatic that fatigue won’t affect his team’s performance in matches that matter.
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“We'll be ready to play Friday night,” Schmid said, referring to Seattle’s Friday-night tilt with Guadalajara’s MLS sister club, Chivas USA. “It's not going to affect us.”
With the starters resting Tuesday, Seattle fielded essentially the same lineup they sent out in their previous two CONCACAF Champions League games. Once again, that group was successful. If it weren’t for a three-goal meltdown in Monterrey, Seattle’s “second” team would have claimed three consecutive wins.
“The guys came out and gave a great effort [and] played pretty well,” said backup goalkeeper Terry Boss. “Scoring two early goals always helps.
“I think it was a situation where halftime, [up] 2-0, [we were] exact same situation we were in Monterrey [in CCL play last month]. So I think that it was really nice to come out and remain focused and, even though we gave up a goal, we bounced back and got another one and solidified the victory.”
Michael Fucito, who opened the scoring against Chivas, was once again the spark plug for Seattle. With his continued goal-scoring exploits, the striker could be a key figure in the postseason – or a possible target in the expansion draft.
Still, Schmid thought Fucito faded from the game, especially in the second half – an assessment Fucito did not refute.
"I think first half, I was more effective,” said Fucito, who is coming off an ankle injury. “I think I ran out of gas a little bit towards the end.”
“I would've liked to be a little more effective in the second half, but that comes with fitness. I think now that my ankle is better I'll be fine going forward."
The rest of the story took place in the crowd, where Seattle outdrew the concurrent US national team friendly at PPL Park near Philadelphia by more than 30,000 fans.
Part of that attendance figure is because of the Guadalajara fans who packed Qwest Field.
According to some eyeball estimates, approximately 50 percent of the 40,000-plus crowd was rooting for the Mexican team.
"A couple comments before the game started is that we are the away team today,” said Sounders midfielder David Estrada. “Obviously at the end, it's the enjoyment of the fans, and I think everyone enjoyed it.”