By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
SEATTLE — The first meeting between Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas this season may have marked a turning point for both clubs.
Dallas entered that match with a 4-0-1 record, while the Sounders were 2-2-1. Since then, Dallas has gone 1-3 while Seattle has won four consecutive games — one short of the club record.
The Sounders spurt has moved them alone to the top of the Major League Soccer standings for their rematch with Dallas at 7 tonight at CenturyLink Field.
“Obviously it’s nice, but there’s still a long way to go,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “The season has swings with it. I think people should be happy and excited; but you can’t get too high, just like you can’t get too low when it goes the other way.”
The Sounders’ streak began April 12 at FC Dallas, coming from behind twice for a 3-2 win.
“When we played there, it was tough for us,” Seattle defender Djimi Traore said. “We won, 3-2, but it was like tough game. (This rematch) is a little bit of revenge for them. For us, we want to stay at the top of the table, so we know what we need to do and try to keep going to do that job.”
Two of Seattle’s goals that day came from Texas native Clint Dempsey, who leads the league in goals (8), shots (33) and shots on target (15). Also regularly contributing has been forward Obafemi Martins, who has scored in three consecutive games and is the only MLS player with at least four goals and assists.
Dallas’ streak has taken them in the other direction. The Hoops come into this match after back-to-back loses, including 1-0 at home to New York on Sunday, their first goalless match of the season.
“It just means they’re going to be motivated and driven,” Schmid said. “Are they going to come out into the game maybe a little more defensive in posture? That’s something I’m sure (coach Oscar Pareja) will decide.”
Pareja also will have to factor in the loss of team goals co-leader Je-Vaughn Watson, who is serving red card suspension. Defender Kellyn Acosta is out due to injury while midfielder Mauro Diaz is questionable.
Both teams come into the match with relatively little rest. The Sounders are in the middle of a stretch of three games in nine days, and are playing on just three days’ rest for the first time this season.
“Winning makes everything easier, no matter when the games are,” said midfielder Lamar Neagle of Federal Way. “And especially this streak we’ve been on, we just want to keep it going. We have to play and fight through adversity. Maybe some guys are tired, but I think we’ll do fine.”
The turnaround is even tighter for the Hoops, who are playing on just two days rest and spent one of those days traveling from Texas to the Pacific Northwest.
“It was a tough draw for them having to play Sunday in the heat in the afternoon at Dallas,” Schmid said. “And they ended up playing a man down for 80 minutes, so I’m sure that took a little bit out of their players. They’ve got to turn and travel. … It’s not an easy one.”
Despite his recent run of form, Martins will not be called for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He was not included on Nigeria’s 30-man roster released Tuesday. … Sydney Leroux of the Seattle Reign was selected National Women’s Soccer League player of the week. Leroux won the award twice last season and becomes the league’s first three-time winner.