Sounders FC, Chivas USA: MLS West's best meet Saturday
Saturday's Sounders FC match at Chivas USA is already being labeled "The Best of the West Showdown. " Chivas (3-0-1) is in first place in...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ Chivas USA, 7:30 p.m., Ch. 5
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Saturday's Sounders FC match at Chivas USA is already being labeled "The Best of the West Showdown."
Chivas (3-0-1) is in first place in Major League Soccer's Western Conference with 10 points, and it has a chance to go five games in a row unbeaten to start a season for the first time in its five-year history. Seattle (3-1) is right behind Chivas with nine points. Saturday's winner, if there is one, would not only have the conference lead but the most points in all of MLS.
Sure, it's only mid-April and the MLS season is just five weeks old. But don't tell Sounders FC players that this game isn't big.
"Even though it's only four games in, every game counts," midfielder Brad Evans said. "This game is extremely important, and I think the guys know that."
Evans came to realize how critical each regular-season game is as a member of the Columbus Crew team that won the MLS Cup last season.
"Maybe teams that miss the playoffs by one or two points say, 'Shoot, if we would have tried harder then, if we would have treated every game as important as the last,' " he said.
Perhaps Sounders FC wishes it could have caught Chivas next week instead. Chivas hosts Seattle Saturday, plays Wednesday at Toronto FC, which means a cross-country trip, then has to come back to Los Angeles to play FC Dallas on April 18. Chivas is already injury-depleted, with nine players listed either out or doubtful for the Seattle game.
Those include forward Ante Razov, midfielder Sasha Victorine and one-time USL Sounders forward Maykel Galindo, who is coming back from sports hernia surgery and has played in half of one match this season. Also, midfielder Paulo Nagamura won't play after picking up two yellow cards in last week's tie with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid is nevertheless impressed with what he has seen.
"I know everybody's talking about 'they've got some guys injured,' " Schmid said. "But those guys have been injured for a while. So they've got a team rhythm with the guys that they're playing right now, and the guys that are on the field."
The Chivas match has been on Sounders FC players' minds since right after the loss to Kansas City last week. Schmid told the players in the postgame locker room that three points (the total given for a win) were lost, but those points could be regained on the road with the next game.
Seattle and Chivas play a similar attacking style that features ball movement and control.
"I don't think they have their ideal lineup right now, but when you work hard, any results can happen, and I think they've shown that," Evans said.
That Sounders FC is even in position to lead the league in points is still a bit of a surprise. The team took MLS by storm with three straight wins to start the season before last week's loss, and that loss came with 10 players on the field for 65 minutes after goalkeeper Kasey Keller was issued a red card.
"You saw it in preseason. We got good results against good teams," Evans said. "They [team decision-makers] made it challenging on us in finding good opponents for us to play and preparing us the best they could, and I think that's paid off. Certainly happy to be here in this position, for sure."
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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