Sounders FC may find spark for turnaround in hard work
In an attempt to regain the team's early-season form, coach Sigi Schmid has taken a back-to-basics approach.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ Revolution, 4:30 p.m., KONG
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The first half of Sounders FC's regular season comes to a close Saturday in a 4:30 p.m. game at New England, and a roller-coaster first 16 games have already showcased Seattle's dazzling best and utter worst.
The highs have never been higher (a 7-1-1 start was a franchise best), but the lows have also never sunk lower (a current 0-4-3 run is the team's longest MLS winless streak).
In an attempt to regain that early-season form, coach Sigi Schmid has taken a back-to-basics approach.
"Hard work with maybe average soccer has a chance to win," said Schmid. "Great soccer with not enough hard work underneath it, you have a better chance to lose. And hard work with good soccer gives us an excellent chance to win."
Ideally, a team has both. Recently, Seattle hasn't had much of either — at least until Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal against San Jose. Despite fielding a makeshift lineup, the Sounders were able to claw out a character-building 1-0 win against the best team in MLS.
"We hope that carries into our game on Saturday," said Schmid.
It will have to.
The Sounders will be without two of their top three scorers against the Revolution — forward Fredy Montero will serve a one-game suspension after earning a red card late in Sunday's game against Portland, and forward David Estrada is out with a broken left foot.
And Seattle's midfield, which boasted 33 of the team's league-best 56 goals in 2011, has scored just once in the run of play this season.
Issues also extend to the defense, as Seattle hasn't recorded a shutout in its last seven league games, the second-longest streak in team history (it went nine straight without a shutout in 2009).
"There are not going to be pretty games for us every single game," said defender Zach Scott. "There are going to be games where it's going to take effort and tackles and winning second balls and stuff like that. If teams want to play a possession style against us, we'll go at it. If they want to come in hard with some hard tackles, we'll go at that, as well."
"We can't panic," added forward Eddie Johnson. "This team has been real consistent over the last three years, won three Open Cups. We've still got a long season. It's a streaky league, like the manager always says. We'll get one win and then we'll go on a run."
• New England features one of the league's top rookies, midfielder Kelyn Rowe of Federal Way. The 20-year-old has played 12 of his team's 15 games and has two goals and an assist.
• Schmid said defender Adam Johansson could be available Saturday after missing four games with a hamstring injury.
• Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning has been downgraded from doubtful to out on the injury report this week, but Schmid said the injured starter has had a good week of recovery.
"He feels good," Schmid said of Gspurning, who has missed nine games with a hip injury. "He feels sore from doing the workout, but not sore as it relates to the (hip) injury, so we're very encouraged about that."
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @joshuamayers