Seattle Sounders FC (7-8-4, 25 points, 4th in West) vs. Houston Dynamo (5-8-5, 20 points, 7th in West), at Qwest Field in Seattle.
11 p.m. ET; MLS Direct Kick; KONG (Seattle), KHOU/FS (Houston)
Five games in one season certainly breeds familiarity, if not a little contempt. The Seattle-Houston rivalry exploded in 2009 as the Sounders knocked the Dynamo out of the US Open Cup in July, only to be bounced from the MLS playoffs by the men in orange a few months later. The matches often turned into physical affairs, too—the Sounders' dismissal by the Dynamo caused them to attempt to get tougher over the offseason.
Houston, though, are winless in league play since May 22. In light of their opponent's struggles, the Sounders have to be thinking they can take three points Sunday night.
Seattle Sounders FC
After a rough start, the Sounders have ridden Fredy Montero’s great form (7 goals, 8 assists) to a 3-0-1 record in their past four league matches. Montero’s performance can only be helped by the arrival of designated players Blaise Nkufo and Uruguayan international Álvaro Fernández, who scored a key goal in Seattle’s midweek COCNACAF Champions League match.
Fernández may not yet be ready to start, according to head coach Sigi Schmid, but should play a role. With Jeff Parke and Patrick Ianni forming a solid partnership in front of goalkeeper Kasey Keller, the defense has also improved. As a unit, they have only allowed three goals in the last six competitive matches.
The Dynamo received some good news as do-everything midfielder Geoff Cameron played about 20 minutes in Thursday night’s SuperLiga match against Morelia. Originally thought to be out for the season, Cameron’s extended absence has coincided with some rough results for the Orange.
Sometimes, finding enough able bodies has been tough for Houston. With the Seattle game looming, head coach Dominic Kinnear adjusted his lineup against Morelia, saying, “We have some concerns about some players that we have to talk about with our training staff.”
Brian Ching may not play for Houston because of Seattle’s artificial surface.
Heroes & Villains
Nate Jaqua vs. Eddie Robinson: Twice bloodied against the Dynamo in 2009, Jaqua always seems to find himself in the middle of a kerfuffle with his former teammates. Jaqua, though, often has the last laugh.
He scored the tying a goal in the 2-1 Open Cup semifinal win. A few weeks later, he was on target again as Seattle traveled to Houston and drew 1-1. Depending on Jaqua’s role, he could find himself in another tussle with Dynamo enforcer Robinson.
Stat that makes you go “Hmm..."
Eight: With a win, Seattle would go eight points above the Dynamo. That cushion could prove critical as the battling for playoff spots gets underway.