TUKWILA, Wash. — If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of Chicago this weekend.
With temperatures expected in the 80s and 90s, the Seattle Sounders are taking extra precautions for their Saturday night match against the Fire. Even with kickoff after dusk (8:30 pm ET, MatchDay Live), Sounders defender Jeff Parke knows it will take a while to adjust to the heat.
“We’re out in the rain and 50-degree weather every day,” Parke said about playing through the temperature change. “It will take a good 15 to 20 minutes before you start breathing.”
Energy conservation and in-game substitutions could play a vital role at Toyota Park. But with recent injuries and lineup changes, several probable starters have only recently gone 90 minutes in an MLS match.
Forward Nate Jaqua turned in his first full match of the 2011 season last week against Real Salt Lake, as did Mike Fucito three days earlier against FC Dallas. Coming off an injury, midfielder Brad Evans gutted out the full 90 against RSL, while fellow midfielder Mauro Rosales has played an entire match only once in his Seattle career.
“It will be a little different for our guys,” head coach Sigi Schmid said Tuesday. “I’m just happy it’s at night and not during the day.”
It looks like the Sounders won't have to deal without the rain that seems to accompany them wherever they travel. Many of Seattle’s away games this year have been rainy affairs — the club was greeted by precipitation in Philadelphia, Columbus, DC and Salt Lake City. The Sounders are 1-1-2 in those matchups, including last weekend’s win at Real Salt Lake.
With that in mind, the clear skies and warmth will be something Seattle should take into account.
“You have to let the ball do the work and not chase as much,” Parke said. “[We have to] defend well as a group.”