By John Boyle Herald Writer
SEATTLE — While the first weekend of May is hardly time to panic for Seattle Sounders FC, these next two games certainly loom large for a team that hasn’t gotten off to the start it was hoping for.
Seattle hosts the Columbus Crew tonight and the Los Angeles Galaxy next weekend—two of the league’s top teams—and Sounders FC hopes that a pair of home games can jumpstart a season that hasn’t started according to plan.
Seattle managed just one point for a draw on last week’s two-game road trip, and is now in third place, five points behind the first-place Galaxy despite having played one more game. Sounders F.C. is now 2-2-2, certainly not a disastrous start, but not what a team with title aspirations was shooting for.
“This game is very important for our season,” midfielder Steve Zakuani said. “This is a very important game to win. I think having two of the best teams in the league coming here is going to bring the best out of us. We’re going to see how we measure up.”
Despite playing in front of the league’s biggest—and perhaps loudest—crowds, Seattle hasn’t been dominant at home of late. Seattle struggled to score at Qwest Field late last season, and despite a 2-1 record at home so far this year, Sounders FC still has not found its scoring touch at home. A couple of wins in the next two weekends would certainly change the early-season outlook for the team.
“When you get the opportunity to play a couple games in a row at home, you have to take advantage of that,” goalkeeper Kasey Keller said. “It’s difficult to pick up points on the road, in any sport, for any teams. You need to take advantage of your home form. We had great home-form last year and we want to improve on that. We were disappointed with our early loss to New York and we were so happy to be able to come back and win the game against K.C. in the last minute. We really want to put our authority back at Qwest for the next couple games against two good teams at the top of their divisions. We need to make sure we set that tone.”
But while these next two home games are important to Seattle, Sounders FC players also know that tonight isn’t a do or die situation; it’s far too early for that. With a season that stretches well into fall, a fast start is hardly a requirement for success in Major League Soccer.
Seattle need only look as far as its next two opponents for examples of that. Columbus, the 2008 champs, started last season with a surprising 0-2-5 record through seven games, yet still finished with the league’s best record. The Galaxy, meanwhile, looked like a team that never met a tie they didn’t like early in the season, starting 1-1-9, but got hot late in the season, finished with the best record in the west, and made it to the MLS Cup final.
Seattle signed forward Miguel Montano Friday, adding the young Colombian to the roster more than a month after he first started training with the team. Montano, 18, joined the team March 17, but his international status caused the delay in the process of signing him. Montano isn’t expected to be an immediate impact player, but rather is viewed by the team as a player that could develop into a star down the road.
Midfielder Stephen King was traded to D.C. United for a second round pick in the 2011 draft. King, who came to Seattle in last year’s expansion draft, appeared in 10 games in 2009, starting three, but has not seen playing time yet this season.
Herald Writer John Boyle: email@example.com.