By John Boyle Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Just as one blowout loss is not cause for panic, one feel-good road victory is hardly a sign that everything is perfect in the world of Sounders FC.
As midfielder/forward Steve Zakuani pointed out following both his team’s 4-0 home loss to L.A. two weeks ago, then again this week after Seattle’s 1-0 win in New York, teams are rarely as good, or bad, as everyone says they are.
“I learned that a long time ago both as a team and an individual,” Zakuani said. “When you play well, it lifts everyone. So you have to keep a sound mind, because when you don’t play well, everyone is going to say you’re not good and point out your weaknesses and deficiencies. … We don’t panic. If we lose a game here, win a game here, we know if we’re on course, and so far we are.”
Still, even if Seattle is trying to keep an even keel despite the ups and downs of the early season, Zakuani admits “a win (today) would be great for our confidence and our fans.”
Oh yes, the fans.
If Seattle needed any motivation beyond simply trying to win another game when it hosts San Jose this afternoon, the players certainly feel like they owe an inspired performance to Sounders FC fans. The last time Seattle played at Qwest Field was in that loss to the L.A. Galaxy, a game so embarrassing ownership decided to offer season ticket holders a one-game credit towards renewals for next season. Seattle’s last home win was more than a month ago — a 1-0 victory over Kansas City that came on a stoppage-time goal.
“We need to win this game because we’ve gone a couple of games at home without winning,” goalkeeper Kasey Keller said. “… Our last home game was the worst home game in the history of this franchise, and we want to put that right more than anything else.”
In the Western Conference, first-place L.A. has a monstrous lead, but Seattle (3-3-3) is just one point behind a group of four teams tied for second, including San Jose.
“What we’re looking at now is that if we do win this game (today), we’ll be at 15 points through 10 games, and that’s a point-and-a-half a game,” Zakuani said. “That’s playoff pace.”
While Sounders FC can make a big jump in the standings today, it is also just two points clear of last place in the West, a position the team held prior to its win in New York.
That bunched-up conference race only amplifies the magnitude of this early-season game, even if Seattle is trying to keep single games in perspective. A second straight victory could vault Sounders FC into sole possession of second place, making the Galaxy loss a distant memory. Another home loss will kill any momentum gained in New York last weekend.
“The difference a week can make is tremendous,” Keller said, noting it will be a shame “if we don’t continue to concentrate on what we improved on to get the victory.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.