Sounders motivated by advancing, not revenge on Real Salt Lake
Advancement will be the best revenge, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said, heading into Friday's start of a playoff series against Real Salt Lake — a team that ended Seattle's season last year.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Real Salt Lake @ Sounders, 7 p.m., KONG, NBCSN
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TUKWILA — "We're ready."
Such was the message from Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid on the eve of his team's home playoff game, 7 p.m. Friday.
Seattle hosts the first leg of a two-game, aggregate-goals Western Conference semifinal against Real Salt Lake, an opponent that ended the Sounders' season in the same round last year.
Time for revenge? Well, yes and no.
"It's not about payback; it's about advancing," Schmid said. "We've got too much to think about to think about payback and getting even and all that. All we want to do is advance. Advancing will give us payback."
Last year, the series was just about decided in the first leg as RSL walloped the Sounders, 3-0, at Rio Tinto Stadium. It was a nearly insurmountable deficit that Seattle couldn't make up despite a 2-0 win in the second leg.
"We got spanked," midfielder Brad Evans said of the playoff opener in 2011.
"That's still fresh in everyone's mind. That's something that can't happen."
Motivation will also be drawn from this season.
The Sounders didn't score a goal in three games against Real Salt Lake — a 1-0 loss and two scoreless ties. Seattle's active goal-less drought is at 299 minutes head-to-head, dating to last year's playoffs.
RSL has only lost once at CenturyLink Field since winning the MLS Cup here in 2009.
"I've always felt over my career," Schmid said, "that it's easier to get prepared and to get up for teams that maybe you ... haven't done as (well) against, because your team is going to be motivated and focused."
The Sounders wouldn't go so far to say that they've wanted a rematch with Real Salt Lake this year. But that doesn't mean they lack confidence.
"We know we can beat this team," said defender Jeff Parke, referencing the home win in the playoffs last year.
"I don't think this team is afraid of anybody," added Evans. "We'll take anybody right now. We'll play San Jose, we'll play L.A. — whoever it is. We match up well with everybody, and we've done well against those teams all year long."
Johnson still in doubt, two defenders out
Forward Eddie Johnson (adductor strain) hasn't been ruled out of Friday's game and his availability, most likely as a reserve, if anything, will be determined before kickoff.
"We have to see," Schmid said. "Chances are he might not be able to play."
Johnson, who suffered the injury in Sunday's regular-season finale, is still expected to be ready for the second leg of the series on Nov. 8.
Defenders Leo Gonzalez (hamstring) and Patrick Ianni (calf) will not be available Friday, Schmid said.
• The Seahawks' logo and end-zone lettering will be painted on the CenturyLink Field turf for Friday's playoff game. Depending on the weather, there could also be a thick outline for the football field, though there won't be grid lines or hash marks. The Sounders have always made a point of avoiding football marks on the field for soccer games but preferred playing Friday — two days before a Seahawks home game — instead of Monday, which would've avoided the conflict.
"This was a compromise," said general manager Adrian Hanauer. "Our preference would be a totally clean soccer field, and football's preference undoubtedly was a completely lined football field ... but it's the reality of a two-sport stadium."
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @joshuamayers