Sounders' final games offer chance for easier roads in MLS Cup, Champions League playoffs
With advancement to the MLS Cup playoffs and Champions League quarterfinals clinched, two games this week hold mainly seeding implications.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Playoff fever is growing in Seattle.
In the Sounders FC locker room following Sunday's 3-1 win over FC Dallas that clinched a top-three seed in the Western Conference, it was clear that players and coaches were already getting mentally prepared for an upcoming playoff series with Real Salt Lake.
"I think we're hungry, more than anything," said midfielder Brad Evans. "We are not overconfident, but I know the players we have, and I am confident with what we can do."
Added assistant coach Brian Schmetzer: "This team is good enough that if we play up to our potential, and we worry about ourselves, we have a chance to beat anybody in this league."
But first, there are two games to play before the postseason arrives.
And while Wednesday's CONCACAF Champions League group game and Sunday's MLS regular-season finale mostly just have seeding implications, that doesn't make them meaningless.
A home win Wednesday over CD Marathon of Honduras would give the Sounders a 4-0 record in Group 4 and ensure that Seattle would avoid some of the region's top powers in the quarterfinal round. In this year's CCL format, the eight group winners are ranked and matched up according to performance in the group stage.
"Obviously there are some guys we'd like to avoid," said coach Sigi Schmid, alluding to top Mexican teams Santos Laguna, which eliminated the Sounders in the 2011-12 CCL quarterfinals in March, and CF Monterrey.
In MLS play, a road win Sunday against the Los Angeles Galaxy would all but lock up the Western Conference's No. 2 seed in the playoffs.
Finishing with 59 points could also mean a top-three finish overall in MLS, which would give Seattle a better chance of hosting MLS Cup (the final is hosted by the participating team with the best record), and also a bigger likelihood of qualifying for the 2013-14 CCL.
Evans wins MLS Player of the Week
Evans' two-goal performance Sunday earned him the first MLS Player of the Week award of his six-year career, the league announced Monday. The 27-year-old midfielder also played two defensive positions in Wednesday's 0-0 tie with Real Salt Lake.
"Nobody else in the league scored two goals, so I think it was automatic," joked Evans, who deflected credit to the team.
"Sometimes people underappreciate Brad," Schmid said. "So it's nice to see a player like that get the recognition, because he's not the only player in the league like that."
Martinez explains tweet of frustration
Mario Martinez drew attention for the wrong reason Sunday night, when he expressed frustration on Twitter about his playing time, indicating he was considering leaving the Sounders.
"Yes, I was unhappy not being able to play, but I want you all to understand that I'm really happy with the team," Martinez explained Monday through an interpreter. "Unfortunately, there are a lot of good players, and I have to wait for my opportunity.... What I said already happened, so now we need to concentrate on the game on Wednesday."
Martinez, who has deleted the tweet, added, "I want everyone to understand that I want to help the team and support the team."
Schmid said he would talk to Martinez about the issue: "We'll sort that out."
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.