By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
TUKWILA — Seldom has a team been happier to flip the calendar from August to September than Chivas USA.
Last month, the Goats went 0-4-1 without scoring a goal. The winless and scoreless runs actually date to July. In all, it has been 546 minutes — more than six games — since their last goal. That’s the longest dry streak in Major League Soccer this season, and the fourth-longest in league history.
Next up are the Seattle Sounders, the league leaders who are streaking the other way heading into their Wednesday visit to Chivas USA.
“I really don’t know what their mentality is,” Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “It can go either way: They’re very frustrated or they’re very motivated. I think we have to focus more on ourselves: make sure that we’re organized defensively, limit their chances and I’m sure our quality will come to the top.”
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid cautions that there is quality on the Chivas side, too.
“Even when they’re struggling, they’re still professional players,” he said Tuesday before the Sounders flew to Southern California. “When you’ve got guys like Felix Borja, who’s played a lot of year in some of the top European Leagues; you’ve got a guy like (Nigel) Rio-Coker, who spent a lot of years in the Premiership; (former Sounder) Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, we know what he’s capable of; and (Dan) Kennedy, their goalkeeper. There’s still a lot of quality there. For some reason it hasn’t come together, hasn’t resulted in wins.”
One name missing from Schmid’s list is forward Erick Torres, who has 14 of Chivas’ league-low 21 goals this season. He also leads the Goats in shots (78) and shots on target (27).
Torres will miss this match while on duty with the Mexican national team.
Also absent is assists leader Mauro Rosales, who was traded to Vancouver.
There are openings along the back line, too, as captain and center back Carlos Bocanegra hasn’t yet been cleared after suffering a concussion July 20 against D.C. United. Also unavailable is center back Eriq Zavaleta, who is on loan from Seattle under terms that prevent him from playing against the Sounders.
With all that working against the Goats, Schmid would like to quickly challenge any belief that September will start better for them.
“If we can get up a goal or two, then some of the bad memories will come up for them,” he said. “But that’s work. You saw in their (3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy), for 42 minutes it was pretty much an even game: 41 minutes until (Gyasi) Zardes got the goal, and then their will broke a little bit.”
Seattle will be without midfielder Marco Pappa, who is away with the Guatemala national team at the Central American Cup. Otherwise, the Sounders seem in good health with most key players available.
They also go into the match on a three-game unbeaten run and with Frei coming off his career-high and league-leading eighth shutout Saturday against Colorado.
“I think we take pride in it as a defensive unit,” he said. “At the beginning of the season we were leaking some questionable goals, but we were lucky to have that offensive power to compensate for it. Now if we can clean those mistakes up, which we’ve been doing I think, it takes a bit of pressure off our guys to not have to score four goals every game. But if they want to, they can keep doing that.”