TUKWILA, Wash. — Two sides determined to climb the table take to the pitch on Saturday night (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online) at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. D.C. United hope to capitalize on their games in hand to strengthening their playoff position in the Eastern Conference, while the Sounders are hoping to keep pace with the LA Galaxy in the Supporters’ Shield race.
With a win and some help, Seattle could secure a playoff spot, but it’s too early for head coach Sigi Schmid to worry about that.
“We just want to keep getting points and continue to hold on to what we have right now, which is second place,” said Schmid. “We want to maintain that and be there if there are any slipups on the Galaxy's part that we can take advantage of."
Similar to the midweek CONCACAF Champions League match against Herediano, Seattle come into Saturday’s match still looking to settle their central midfield. On Friday, Schmid said that Brad Evans and Osvaldo Alonso, who skipped the midweek trip to Costa Rica, got through the week of practice OK. Their presence would take on added significance, given that Servando Carrasco will miss the United match with yellow card accumulation.
Another central midfielder, Erik Friberg, is listed as questionable on the injury report with a hip flexor injury and seems less likely to participate. On the bench, Schmid confirmed Josh Ford’s status as the team’s No. 2 goalkeeper, while recent signing of Bryan Meredith will provide additional depth.
DC come into the match with injury concerns of their own. Chris Pontius, who suffered a broken leg against Chivas USA on Sept. 10, is likely out for the season. The 24-year-old had locked down the left midfield spot opposite Andy Najar and gave United one of the league’s best outside midfield combos.
No matter who fills in for Pontius, it could take away from a DC side that’s been potent offensively in recent weeks. In three of the past five games, United have scored three goals or more.
Seattle’s defense, which is missing Jhon Kennedy Hurtado due to a red card against Real Salt Lake, will have its hands full with that offense, which is spearheaded by Dwayne De Rosario and Charlie Davies. Zach Scott or Patrick Ianni will likely replace Hurtado, pairing with Jeff Parke in the center of the defense.
The visitors are currently holding onto the final wild card playoff spot, meaning they will be motivated to scratch out a result on the road. The Black-and-Red have had good success in the past in Seattle, posting a 1-0-1 all-time record with six goals scored.
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS