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Saturday, July 7, 2012 - Page updated at 08:00 p.m.
Sounders FC starving for a victory
By Joshua Mayers
Seattle Times staff reporter
TUKWILA — Like has been the case for 3 ½ years, another big crowd is expected at CenturyLink Field for Saturday's 8 p.m. game against the Colorado Rapids.
Seattle's franchise-worst nine-game winless streak won't likely change that.
Not yet, at least.
"Our fans have been fantastic, but we don't want to test them," said Adrian Hanauer, general manager and part owner. "We don't want to test their loyalty any more than sort of the normal ebbs and flows of a high-level team in this league. We're testing them; we're pushing them right now. We'd like to turn that around and reward them for that support, as well."
What the Sounders lacked in preparation time — a quick turnaround allowed for just one practice following Wednesday's tie at Real Salt Lake — they will have to make up with urgency.
And even while it's too soon to label games as "must wins" from a mathematical perspective, impatience is growing.
"It sucks that we've had a run of nine without a win," said Hanauer, adding that the run deep into the U.S. Open Cup offers little consolation.
Added coach Sigi Schmid: "They're all must-win games for me."
If there's any time to end the long MLS winless streak, it's Saturday against a mid-level Colorado team that the Sounders have beaten in all four previous meetings in Seattle.
And for Schmid, signs of an impending turnaround have been evident in the last three games: a hard-fought road win against San Jose in an Open Cup quarterfinal followed by back-to-back road ties in New England and Salt Lake.
"We want to be a tough team to beat, and I think we've gotten back to that," Schmid said. "I think we lost that for a couple of games. ... Now it's a matter of the soccer catching up and us playing better and walking away with a win."
Saturday's match, which will be broadcast nationally on the NBC Sports Network, is Seattle's only MLS home game this month. The Sounders close out the regular season with 15 of their last 16 against Western Conference competition.
"Everything is within our own hands," said Schmid.
Open Cup scenarios
Sounders FC would host Philadelphia in the U.S. Open Cup final, but would have to play at Sporting Kansas City, U.S. Soccer announced Friday. That is depending on the Sounders winning next week's semifinal, when they host Chivas USA at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila.
Hanauer said he was told the Sounders' bid was equal to Kansas City's — something he described as a "shocker" — and that the hosting rights were then decided by a coin flip, an issue that drew the ire of Schmid earlier in the tournament.
• Schmid declined to comment on the availability of midfielder Steve Zakuani, who is in the final stage of recovery from a broken leg and related complications.
• Defender Leo Gonzalez was fined an undisclosed amount by the MLS Disciplinary Committee for embellishing contact in a first-half incident Wednesday with Real Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio. Gonzalez is the sixth Sounder to face retroactive discipline from the league this season.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @joshuamayers
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