By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
Major League Soccer’s World Cup break is over, but the Seattle Sounders are heading into another lull in league play.
After their 2-0 win over Portland on Sunday, the Sounders headed into a 14-day break in their MLS schedule before the Los Angeles Galaxy visits on July 28.
The only match before then is a friendly against Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League at 1 p.m. Saturday at CenturyLink Field. The club reported Monday that ticket sales have topped 52,000.
The break comes at a time when Seattle remains at the top of the MLS table, seven points clear of D.C. United, and 10 points ahead of Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference.
“I don’t even look,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “I just look at our own points, and I’m happy to see us continue to get points. … Hopefully one day we will look at the standings and say, ‘Hey, we have qualified for the playoffs.’ For now, it’s about continuing to play well.”
The Sounders were off Monday, return to training Tuesday, and then will be off again Wednesday before resuming work for the friendly.
Schmid said his team’s top priorities will be staying in rhythm and returning to health. Players such as Brad Evans (knee), Leo Gonzalez (hamstring), Djimi Traore (adductor), Dylan Remick (adductor) and Andy Rose (knee) are all reported making progress. Schmid said some are possible for this weekend and most are likely for the return to league play at the end of the month.
That would continue an upward trend for the Sounders, who on Sunday welcomed back Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin from World Cup duty, and forward Obafemi Martins from a hamstring injury.
Yedlin went the full 90 minutes, while Dempsey scored his team-high ninth goal of the season.
“I think we did the right thing by giving Clint the week off,” Schmid said. “It gave him time to spend with his family. … DeAndre had some time off, and he will have a few more days off after the Tottenham game, because I think you need to do that. Clint felt fresh when he came back … and DeAndre is a young kid and doesn’t know how to feel yet.”
Meanwhile, Martins’ second-half appearance was cited by both sides as a turning point in the match.
“You could see that that Martins, Dempsey — these guys were fresh,” Timbers coach Caleb Porter said. “When Martins came on and paired with Dempsey, they gave us a lot of problems. I think our back line just looked like they were tired, and you can’t be tired running against Dempsey and Martins. And Dempsey proved why he’s one of the best players in our country and scored a couple of goals in the World Cup.”
The drumbeat for Tottenham’s visit begins at midweek with regional charity and publicity events. The promotions gain steam Friday when the English club is tentatively scheduled to hold a 4:30 p.m. free public practice at CenturyLink Field between 2:45 p.m. fish throwing at Pike Place Market and a 7 p.m. question-and-answer session at the George &Dragon Pub in Seattle featuring former Tottenham stars Ledley King and Steffen Freund and former Sounder and U.S. national team goalkeeper Kasey Keller.