Sounders hoping to continue turnaround at Real Salt Lake
Worst start? What worst start? Sounders FC could match its best record through 14 games with a road win Saturday against Real Salt Lake.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ Real Salt Lake, 6:30 p.m., KONG
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Seven weeks later, a resurgent Seattle (6-4-3) could actually match its best record through 14 games with a win in Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. road game at Real Salt Lake.
“Hard to believe, huh?” coach Sigi Schmid quipped.
Truth is, Schmid never felt his team was that far out of it during struggles in March and April.
“You’re going to have good streaks and you’re going to have bad streaks as you move forward,” he said. “At the end of the day, you can measure it once both of them are over. But I think our team has been pretty consistent over the last two months. ... Our team has stabilized.”
Adding to that stability is the return of three players from international duty.
Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans were away contributing for the U.S. national team, as each scored a goal in an important stretch of three World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras — all wins.
Mario Martinez is back from duty with Honduras, which went 1-2 in qualifiers.
All three are expected to be available Saturday, though their roles are yet to be determined following Tuesday’s U.S.-Honduras game plus travel from Salt Lake City and back.
“Our team has formed a lot of chemistry and been doing well since we’ve been away,” said Johnson, “so if it’s coming off the bench or if it’s starting, whatever my role is I’m going to go out and give my best.”
Evans said he’s also ready to play, “wherever that may be.” The versatile veteran has been playing right back for the national team and could assume a similar role for the Sounders with regular starter DeAndre Yedlin away with the U.S. for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.
Either way, the Sounders will be returning to where they hit rock bottom earlier this season.
A March 30 game at Rio Tinto Stadium saw Seattle at its worst, particularly in the first half of a 2-1 loss that dropped them to 0-3-1. Afterward, the team had a 15-minute, closed-door meeting in the visitors’ locker room.
Schmid called the performance “a wake-up call,” and the Sounders since have gone 6-1-2, the best record in MLS in that span.
Though RSL has been second-best at 6-2-1.
“It’s something that we feel better about,” Schmid said, “but I’m sure they feel better about things, too.”
• The U.S. kicked off the U-20 World Cup with a 4-1 loss Friday to tournament favorite Spain, and Yedlin played all 90 minutes. The U.S. continues group play Monday against France and then Thursday against Ghana.
• Reports from Spain say the Sounders have made an offer to defender David Navarro of Levante UD, the former team of Seattle forward Obafemi Martins. The MLS transfer window opens again July 9. The Sounders declined to comment on that matter through a team spokesman.