TUKWILA, Wash. – Given there are six months left in the season, there’s no such thing as a literal “must-win” game in April.
With one point through four matches, though, the Seattle Sounders are keenly aware that Saturday’s home game against the New England Revolution comes pretty close (4 pm ET, Univision Deportes, MLS Live).
“We need to go out and start showing we can win some games,” Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer told MLSsoccer.com. “If we dinged five off the post and crossbar and lost, OK that happens. But we need to go out and have a decent performance.
“It’s not a must-win game on Saturday, but we have to start collecting points.”
Hanauer pointed out that while the math isn’t particularly daunting at the moment, things could get dicey soon.
As it stands now, Hanauer figures the Sounders need to average about 1.63 points per game for the rest of the season to get to a comfortable playoff position. In their four previous seasons combined, the Sounders have averaged about 1.67.
But Saturday’s game is followed by three road games and the arithmetic could look very different in a few weeks.
“You want to get it,” said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid, who went as far as “guaranteeing” a victory during a radio interview on Thursday. “We want to get this one at home. We want to get it for ourselves, we want to get it for our fans. We want to get it for us as a team.”
Beyond the math, there’s also a psychological component. All teams suffer through slumps, but there’s an added urgency that build when the first column in the standings is a zero.
“It’s huge,” Sounders midfielder Shalrie Joseph said. “You should always win your home games. Going on the road in a couple weeks, it’s going to be even more frustrating if we’re not able to get this win on Saturday.”
The Sounders seem to have gained some confidence from their performance in CONCACAF Champions League where they were one goal away from advancing to the finals, battling to a 1-1 draw against Santos Laguna in Mexico on Tuesday but falling 2-1 on aggregate.
They also know any momentum they built is only as good as what they do with it.
“They don’t like where they are at right now,” said Schmid, noting that the Sounders aren’t just in last place, but “dead last” in the overall table. “They don’t like that they’re winless. They feel like they’re a better team than that, and we have to show that on the field.
“We can talk about it, we can rant and rave in the locker room all we want, they can be upset about it at home and everything else, but at the end of the day it’s all on the field. We have to give it on the field on Saturday. Tuesday [against Santos Laguna] demanded a big effort from us, but we’ve got to come up with another big effort – that’s just the way it is.”