Traveling to the Pacific Northwest in MLS signifies three obstacles for teams: rain, turf fields and loud crowds. FC Dallas face the trio on Wednesday in their visit to the Seattle Sounders (10 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live).
“It's different," midfielder Andrew Jacobson said of the trip to Qwest Field. "I’d say the turf is more difficult than the fans. I think, honestly, the fans will get both teams up for the game. I don’t think it scares anyone — definitely not on our team.”
According to Jacobson, everyone on the team has played in an environment like Qwest Field, and with such a short turnaround between games, the crowd will actually help energize FCD. As for the weather, FC Dallas have had their share of that lately.
“We will have to see what the weather will be like,” goalkeeper Kevin Hartman told reporters after Sunday’s draw with Real Salt Lake. “We are certainly acclimated to playing in the rain at this point. I think we’ve probably had more rain delays and lightning delays than I’ve ever had in my career in the past three weeks.”
Weather forecasts project rain as usual in Seattle, with temperatures in the 50s. But even if it’s not raining, the Sounders’ grounds crew create a home-field advantage.
“If it’s not raining, they’ll spend two hours watering the field down so it becomes very, very slippery,” head coach Schellas Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com via phone on Tuesday afternoon. “So early in the game, they’ll put immediately a high level of pressure on you trying to force you to make mistakes in the back third. You have to kind of survive through that.”
Weather aside, the turf is always a subject of conversation when talking about Qwest Field.
“Seattle’s always a difficult place to play,” said Hartman. “We are going to play on turf, which is never exciting for anybody.”
FC Dallas have not won at Qwest Field in two visits. In 2010, David Ferreira used some late-game heroics — an 87th-minute volley smashed past Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller that was Goal of the Year nominee — to leave Seattle with one point.
In 2009, Dallas visited Seattle in the last game of the regular season needing a win to get into the playoffs. Atiba Harris gave FCD the lead, but Seattle responded with two goals themselves, leaving FC Dallas on the outside looking in.
Ten weeks into the 2011 season, FCD sit in front of Seattle on the Western Conference table by one point with a game in hand. With only two days between games, the game plan is simple.
“Our expectations are to come out and compete from the start,” said Hyndman.
If they do, FCD may leave Seattle with three points for the first time in three visits.