With Chelsea, Sounders don't expect repeat of 2011's 7-0 loss
Coach Sigi Schmid expects to field a better lineup than the one that was blown out by Manchester United last year.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TUKWILA — The result of the last year's friendly in Seattle read more like a punch line than a final score, and it won't be soon forgotten.
Manchester United 7. Sounders FC 0.
Hardly an enjoyable night for the hometown team.
So is there any lasting impact 12 months later, when the Sounders host another world-class international opponent in decorated English club Chelsea FC?
"The lasting impact is you don't want that to happen again," said coach Sigi Schmid, whose team kicks off against the UEFA Champions League winner at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
"We're a proud team," added general manager Adrian Hanauer, "and we don't like getting beat by anyone — much less taking a seven-spot. ... For sure, we'd like to make it competitive for our fans."
A crowd of more than 50,000 is expected at CenturyLink Field to watch the spectacle, and there are many reasons to believe things will be different this time — despite what appears to be a mismatch on paper.
First off, Chelsea is just beginning its preseason preparation and won't have its full complement of stars available until later in its U.S. tour.
Schmid also indicated the Sounders starters will play more minutes this time around, something a busy schedule didn't allow in 2011 when Manchester United scored six goals in the second half, mostly against Seattle's reserves.
"What's nice is we don't have a game on the weekend after this one," Schmid said of being able to take a more competitive approach.
Minutes will be extra meaningful for a couple of Sounders on Wednesday.
Steve Zakuani is one who would benefit from playing time as he continues an extensive recovery from a broken leg and related complications. He has played only four minutes with the first team since suffering the injury last April, and Schmid said there's a good chance the midfielder will see action against Chelsea.
Zakuani, who grew up in London, has history with the Blues, having played in the youth-development system of crosstown rival Arsenal.
"I've been around Chelsea my whole life; some of my best friends are Chelsea fans," Zakuani said. "It's not a team I liked growing up because I was an Arsenal fan, but I'm happy that Chelsea's here."
The Sounder of the night, however, will be Roger Levesque, who has announced he'll retire after Wednesday's game, ending an unforgettable career that dates to 2003 in the United Soccer Leagues.
"It will be a little bit emotional just because the last nine years of my life have been completely dedicated to the Sounders organization," Levesque said. "The fans and the players and the front office, anybody and everybody has given back so much and been such an influence and effectual in my life to get to the point where I am today. So, a lot of thank yous, a lot of hugs, maybe a few tears, but I'm really looking forward to it."
• Former NASL Sounders great Roger Davies, the league MVP in 1980, has returned to Seattle and will be honored Wednesday with a Golden Scarf.
• Reports circulated late Monday that Sounders FC midfielder Alvaro Fernandez was headed to Colombian club Deportivo Cali on a one-year loan. "There are a lot of rumors swirling about," Hanauer said. "Clearly we'll announce things if and when they happen, but for now we're very happy to have Alvaro Fernandez as a part of (the) team."
• Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning (hip) will be a game-time decision. Midfielders Cordell Cato (left MCL sprain) and Alex Caskey (hamstring strain) were added to the injury report this week.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @joshuamayers