SEATTLE — With the date of Seattle’s playoff opener at Qwest Field set for Halloween, other MLS teams have to be frightened at the prospect of facing the surging Sounders in a two-game series.
After bagging a comprehensive 2-1 victory over Chivas USA on Friday night, Seattle have now posted a perfect 5-0-0 record in their past five league matches.
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The Sounders, whose average attendance of 36,173 in league matches in 2010 broke the MLS record they set last season, showed their love for the 36,356 supporters on hand on Fan Appreciation Night by soundly defeating the Goats.
“We said before the game, it’s the last game before these fans,” said Steve Zakuani, who scored his 10th goal of the season. “We won’t be back here until the playoffs, so we wanted go out with a bang."
Chivas USA coach Martín Vásquez is building his squad for 2011, but there was little to like on Friday night. With the exception of a strong period of possession in the second half, the visitors were outclassed.
The Goats did manage a late goal, but Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid admitted that the Sounders, up 2-0 at the end of the first half, relaxed in the second 45.
[inline_node:321003]“Early in the game, we played very well,” Schmid said. “I thought our two goals were well-taken goals. I was pleased pretty much with what we did for 60 minutes, [but] was a little bit displeased in the last 30.
“Sometimes, when you get to this stage and things are going well for your team and you feel you have a team in hand, maybe you take your foot off the gas pedal a little bit.”
With the postseason just one game away, it seems that Seattle will stay in the Western Conference and end up playing either Los Angeles or Real Salt Lake. Schmid, though, won’t make any indications as to whom he would rather face in the first round.
But no matter whom the Sounders draw, Schmid assures the motivation to succeed will be there.
“Like I said – and I’ll keep saying it all the way through – it doesn’t matter to me who we play,” Schmid said. “I think there are motivating factors for us on anybody we match up with.
“With Los Angeles, we want to show them that we’re a better team than those two results [4-0 and 3-1 losses in league play] showed,” added Schmid. “If it ends up being Salt Lake, it’s a team that we tied twice and we feel that we were unfortunate, definitely, up there [at Rio Tinto Stadium].”
The Sounders will now prepare for a trip to Houston next Saturday to close out the regular season, but striker Fredy Montero will not play in that match due to a yellow card suspension.
Though his status is currently unclear, Patrick Ianni could potentially miss the match against the Dynamo. The central defender came off early in the second half against Chivas USA with a right ankle injury that appeared to occur early in the game, when he came down awkwardly after contesting for a header.
Though the Sounders have long-secured their playoff spot, early indication is that they will use their starters in Houston as they attempt to keep momentum heading into the playoffs.