Over the years there have been advances in air travel, but Seattle has not moved closer to the east coast. Despite that simple fact United concludes its stretch of four consecutive road matches in ten days Friday in Seattle against the Sounders.
It’s life in MLS. The schedule provides challenges for all teams and this is the second time this season United has had a road trip that went from east to west in matter of days. Back in May the Black and Red played at New England on a Saturday and then had to jet to Portland for a Wednesday match.
To be sure United is a disappointed with its elimination from the U.S. Open Cup Tuesday in Philadelphia, but can take pride in the four points it secured in the previous league road matches in Toronto and Chicago.
Friday’s match between United and the Sounders screams importance with positioning for the Supporters Shield on the line. United tops the table for best overall record in MLS with 35 points from 20 matches or 1.78 standings points per game. Vancouver is right with United with 32 points from 18 matches and Seattle is in third at 1.61 standings points per game.
- 1. Beware of timing is everything. On paper Friday seems like the right time for United to play Seattle. The Sounders are in the midst of a three-game MLS losing streak for only the third time in team history. Clint Dempsey has served a two-game suspension for an incident in a U.S. Open Cup game, but is with the USMNT at the Gold Cup. Brad Evans also is with the American side at the Gold Cup and Marco Pappa is there with Guatemala. Obafemi Martins is sidelined with a groin injury. With no Dempsey or Martins, Seattle will be missing its top two goal scorers. The Sounders have only scored one goal during their three-game losing streak, but have quality to turn to. Chad Barrett and Lamar Neagle are expected to step in for Dempsey and Martins. All time Barrett has scored 54 goals in MLS play and Neagle has bagged 28 in a little over four seasons.
- Finish strong.After Friday United does not play again until a road game July 18 in Dallas. There is so much to like about the way United is playing. In goal Bill Hamid will be going for his third consecutive shutout in league play. Second-year defender Steve Birnbaum is coming off arguably one of the best games of his career against Toronto and in attack United has been consistently dangerous. Fabian Espindola will need to be a force against Seattle. Chris Rolfe will need to be more involved than he was in Toronto.