Sounders' bye week offers chance to regroup, refocus
After ending their long winless streak and getting their new DP forward Obafemi Martins back, Seattle can focus on making up ground.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ Philadelphia, 1 p.m., KONG
Latest from the Sounders FC blog
Weekend watch: Must-see matches from around the world NEW - 8/29, 04:00 PM
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The Sounders woke up Sunday morning in the same position they were in before their long-awaited first win of the season — last place in the Western Conference.
So while Saturday's breakthrough was nice, perspective wasn't lost following the 1-0 road win against the Colorado Rapids.
"Of course our situation is better, but it's not good enough," said goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.
Seattle (1-3-2) has played fewer games than nearly every team in MLS due to participation in the CONCACAF Champions League, and that imbalance will increase following the Sounders' upcoming bye week.
As a result, coach Sigi Schmid knows his team will have plenty of opportunities to make up ground in the competitive West.
"People keep beating each other, so if we can win the games we have in hand, we're going to be back in the mix for a playoff spot," Schmid said.
Optimism is also growing after Obafemi Martins, the team's newest designated player, opened his scoring account with the winning goal Saturday. Two weeks off before a May 4 road game in Philadelphia should also allow for the forward's lingering knee issue to heal.
Schmid felt Martins' quality extended beyond the goal.
"He was very influential in the first half, drew a couple of fouls and kicks, and I think our fans could see what he brings to the table," Schmid added. "Now we've got two weeks to make sure he's ready and hopefully he'll also show Philly what he brings to the table."
Zakuani comes "full circle"
The memories started coming back to Steve Zakuani as soon as the plane landed in Denver.
That's when it fully hit the Sounders midfielder that he was back where he suffered a horrific broken leg two years ago and would be matching up with Rapids defender Brian Mullan, whose tackle caused the injury on April 22, 2011.
"I don't know if you guys saw, but as the game started, a section of Colorado fans were singing my name," Zakuani said, "and that's probably the most emotional moment I've had on the pitch, having opposing fans singing my name."
Mullan and Zakuani talked before and after the game, but it was mostly just regular banter, Zakuani said.
On Twitter, Zakuani described the return as a two-year saga coming "full circle."
• Brad Evans said in the visitor's locker room that he'd return to Seattle before shaving his thick beard. The midfielder was waiting to cut it until the Sounders won an MLS game. Asked if he had a fresh razor ready, Evans quipped, "my wife has it all set up."
• Shalrie Joseph had a personal MLS winless streak of 0-16-7 end Saturday. The veteran midfielder last won July 8 with the New England Revolution. Joseph said, smiling, that he didn't know it had been that long: "I don't remember the last time I won, to be honest, but this feels great."
• The Sounders host San Jose in an MLS Reserve League game 8 p.m. Tuesday at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila.