By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said he hopes his club learned something in the must-win pressure of U.S. Open Cup play on Tuesday that will carry over to Major League Soccer play today.
“We showed a lot of character and a lot of resiliency, getting back to the idea and the understanding that we have to be a tough team to beat,” Schmid said. “I’ll be the first one to say it wasn’t our best soccer of the season for sure. But right now we needed to establish again that hard work with average soccer has a chance to win. Great soccer with not enough heart underneath it, you have a better chance to lose. … We hope that carries into our game (today at New England), and that we understand the hard work has to continue.”
Over their past 10 games, Seattle has been a different club in Open Cup competition than in MLS play.
The Sounders take the Gillette Stadium pitch today under the weight of a club-record seven-game MLS winless streak. Meanwhile, the club is 3-0 in Open Cup games, with wins over the Atlanta Silverbacks, Cal FC and this week’s 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes.
There was no carryover last time Seattle returned to MLS play following Open Cup success. After winning their first two USOC games by a combined score of 10-1, the Sounders were mauled in Montreal, 4-1.
“(The San Jose) win is a lot different than the other two wins,” Schmid said. “The other ones came against an NASL team and an amateur team that was on a good run. This one came against a team that right now is number one in our league. … Hopefully, that will provide us some backdrop as we move forward.”
Today marks Seattle’s third game in seven days, while the Revolution’s last match came exactly a week ago. Schmid tried to mitigate the fatigue factor by using a reserve-heavy roster on Tuesday.
“The most important thing for us was to be fresh on the field and have guys that can compete,” he said. “… Every game we’re going to try to put the lineup out that’s going to help us win the game and is going to make the most sense in terms of avoiding injuries, as well. So you have some of those guys you’re going to see as we move down the line. Some you might see more, some you might see less.”
Another difference in today’s game could be atmosphere. After a passionate rivalry at Portland and the loser-out intensity against San Jose, the Sounders play today in the league’s emptiest stadium. New England averages the second-lowest attendance in the league: 11,819. That tops only San Jose, whose home stadium has a capacity of 10,500.
Schmid says it helps that just 20,000 seats are made available for MLS games in Gillette Stadium, which is home to the NFL’s New England Patriots.
“The way they changed the configuration around is a lot more intimate than it was a few years ago,” he said. “I don’t know what kind of crowd they’re going to have this weekend, but it hasn’t been like it was two, three years ago. It’s definitely been a stadium that’s had more atmosphere the last couple of years.”
Sharlie Joseph (adductor) is listed as probable for New England. He has three career goals against the Sounders, including two game-winners. Leo Gonzalez, Adam Johnasson, Steve Zakuani and Jeff Parke all are listed as questionable for Seattle. Fredy Montero is out after receiving a red card Sunday in Portland. Osvaldo Alonso and Eddie Johnson are one caution away from yellow-card suspensions.