Sounders will need all of that defensive depth
The Sounders head into Saturday's 7:30 p.m. game at Chivas USA with several concerns on defense — especially injuries.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ Chivas USA, 7:30 p.m.
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TUKWILA — Defensive depth, a pillar to Sounders FC's success this season, has just about dried up.
It was during an exceptional 7-1-1 run to start the year — including six shutouts — when coach Sigi Schmid beamed at an ability to interchange seven different defenders in the lineup without losing quality.
Heading into Saturday's 7:30 p.m. game at Chivas USA, however, three of those defenders are injured: Adam Johansson (hamstring), Patrick Ianni (back) and Leo Gonzalez (thigh). And that's not all. Starting goalkeeper Michael Gspurning (hip) is also out and midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, a defensive stalwart and two-time team MVP, has been suspended two games by MLS for a dangerous tackle in Wednesday's loss to Columbus.
"We're a little bit thin in the back," said Schmid.
As a result, the Sounders have had to come up with a contingency plan on defense if needed Saturday, which could include midfielder Brad Evans and Andy Rose, or versatile veteran Roger Levesque.
Starters who are healthy haven't had it easy, either. Seattle has played seven games since April 28, part of the busiest stretch in team history, and center back Jeff Parke has played every minute. Left back Marc Burch has started the past five games.
It's no coincidence, Schmid said, that the injuries have come at the cost of performance. Seattle has allowed more goals in the past three games (five) than in the previous nine (three).
"We're definitely looking forward to getting back out there, because we know that we're a better team and we know that we can play better," Evans said of a quick turnaround from Wednesday's defeat.
"The only way we can do that is by getting back on the field and showing ourselves, most importantly, that we can play better."
MLS salaries for the 2012 season were released by the players union Friday. Forward Fredy Montero remains Seattle's highest-paid player at $600,000. Midfielder Mauro Rosales, who became a designated player with an offseason raise, makes $200,000.
Gspurning makes $200,000, the most of Sounders FC's newcomers, who also include Johansson ($175,000), forward Eddie Johnson ($100,000), midfielder Christian Sivebaek ($99,996), Burch ($65,000) and goalkeeper Andrew Weber ($51,996).
• Alonso is the fifth Sounder to receive retroactive discipline this season. Midfielder Alvaro Fernandez (embellishing contact) and Johnson (inappropriate gesture) both received fines. Gonzalez and Zach Scott were each suspended one game and fined for dangerous tackles.
• Chivas USA features two former Sounders: defender James Riley and midfielder Peter Vagenas. "We look forward to seeing James again," Schmid said. "He had a great run here and we really appreciate everything he did for us. We hope he does well, but not too well.
"With Pete, he's been in and out of the lineup, so we'll see. I'm sure we'll see him there. I'm sure he'll have something to say."
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @joshuamayers
|Sounders FC's defense will be without five key contributors Saturday at Chivas USA.|
|Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso||Suspension||11|
|Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning||Hip injury||7|
|Center back Patrick Ianni||Back injury||6|
|Right back Adam Johansson||Hamstring injury||6|
|Left back Leo Gonzalez||Quadriceps injury||4|