Lowly D.C. United still no gimme victory for Sounders
United is having one of the worst seasons in league history, but Seattle players and coaches insist they aren’t overlooking their opponent.
Seattle Times staff reporter
D.C. United @ Sounders7 p.m., KONG
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TUKWILA – The two teams that lost in last year’s conference finals, just one step short of the MLS Cup, meet Wednesday. Though it’s hard to believe D.C. United was one of them.
Sounders FC’s opponent 7 p.m. at CenturyLink Field has already had a 2013 to forget.
The offense? Horrible. D.C. has scored a league-low eight goals all year (the next fewest is Toronto FC’s 14), and six players in MLS have that many. Only one of those goals has come on the road, where United is the league’s only team without a win.
The defense? Not much better. D.C.’s 27 goals allowed are the most in the Eastern Conference and a league-worst 16 of those have come in the first half.
Not long ago, United was mired in a 13-game winless streak, one of the longest in MLS history.
Throw in a couple key injuries to Dwayne De Rosario (the 2011 MVP) and Nick DeLeon (2012 Rookie of the Year runner-up) and the Sounders might be forgiven for looking past this game to Saturday’s Cascadia Cup bout with Vancouver.
Players and coaches insist that won’t be the case.
“In the game of football, you can’t look past anyone,” said forward Eddie Johnson. “It’s going to be a difficult game. ... Their backs are against the wall.”
Sigi Schmid admitted his answer would sound like coach-speak but described last-place D.C. as “always dangerous.”
“They’re a team that’s played better as of late,” Schmid added. “They’re a team that continues to battle and fight. There’s talent on that team ... and the moment you think it’s going to be easy, it’s going to be super hard.”
What has been most difficult for the Sounders has been getting to full strength.
Injuries and national-team call-ups have been a seasonlong story line, and midfielder Osvaldo Alonso is expected to miss a third straight game with a quad strain. There was good news, though, as forward/midfielder Lamar Neagle and defender DeAndre Yedlin should be available after recovering from hip and shoulder injuries, respectively.
Still, Schmid is longing to have all his weapons available at the same time. July is a busy, five-game month with a favorable schedule, which seemingly provides a great chance to leap up the standings.
“It’s just about us trying to get our rhythm this week and get our understanding now and making sure we’re sharp, ready and healthy,” Schmid said.
• Another day passed with no resolution to Mario Martinez’s situation after the midfielder’s loan with the Sounders expired Sunday. The team has been in talks to bring the Honduran international back, but indications have not been good.
Schmid said the issue could be resolved Wednesday or Thursday, while putting some of the onus on Martinez, who was a no-show at practice last week. “It’s a little bit of desire, how badly he wants to be here,” the coach said.
• Rookie forward Eriq Zavaletahas returned on loan to San Antonio, where he’ll play Thursday for a chance to win the second-division NASL championship.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com. On Twitter @joshuamayers.