TUKWILA, Wash. — The two clubs find themselves on opposite ends of the Western Conference table, but the Seattle Sounders know that visiting Chivas USA will be motivated when the two teams play Saturday afternoon (4 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“It’s another one of those games where we’re playing a team with their backs against the wall,” said defender Tyson Wahl. “They’re kind of toward the bottom of the table but they are still a tough and threatening team.”
The weekend fixture marks the first time these two teams have faced off in 2011, a rarity so late in the MLS season. Head coach Sigi Schmid opined about having a more balanced schedule in the future — one round of games against all opponents, followed by another round. But this season, Seattle play Chivas USA twice late in the season.
With a Goats squad that has reinforced themselves, that may be a challenge for the Sounders.
“Obviously Chivas is a different team now than earlier in the season,” Schmid said. “They’re a team that is more confident. They’re playing better soccer, better football now, so if you had the advantage to meet them earlier in the season that’s an advantage.”
“If you’re meeting them twice late in the season like we are it means we are meeting a tougher team,” Schmid added.
Chivas USA boast a pair of dangerous scorers, Justin Braun up front and Nick La Brocca in the midfield. Each player has seven goals on the season, while Braun has tallied a pair of hat tricks.
“Justin is a dangerous player,” Schmid said. “The ability to get those hat tricks shows that he can explode and so you have to be aware of him. If you’re not aware of him then he can hurt you.”
Chivas USA have also added 32-year-old French midfielder Laurent Courtois into the mix.
To combat these dangerous players, defender Jeff Parke preaches concentration. Seattle’s troubling defensive woes of late have abated somewhat — one goal allowed in the past two competitive matches.
“As a team, we’re doing better,” Parke said. “Back when we were leaking goals, there were some individual mistakes. You admit them, and some of them obviously don’t go in, but as a group we’re doing a lot better, working harder at practice, demanding more out of each other.”
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS