Sounders look to extend Dallas’ skid

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comAugust 3, 2013 

The last time FC Dallas came to Seattle, the Hoops were 7-1-3 and atop the Major League Soccer standings.

Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid also pegged them as a team about to tumble.

He was right, as the Sounders beat the visitors, 4-2. And as Dallas returns to CenturyLink Field on Saturday, the Hoops are on an eight-game winless streak that has dropped them to sixth place in the Western Conference.

Schmid was asked what he saw in May when he predicted Dallas was destined to fall back into the pack.

“They were a team that got off to a good roll,” Schmid said. “They had a lot of games at home in the early part of the season, which usually happens with Dallas because (of the climate) — they tend to get more home games at the beginning of the season. They were on a good roll, and it’s a streaky league. Eventually everybody goes into a streak, and when they hit that streak it takes some guys longer or shorter to get out of it. And Dallas, historically now when you look at them over the last few years, they’ve had pretty much long streaks. So it’s just happened that way. But they’re still a very, very talented team.”

The timing could be right for Dallas’ streaky season to turn again, because the club is close to full strength.

“(David) Ferreira was in and out during that period of time when they were going into that losing streak,” Schmid said. “They had some injuries, as well. Jackson, I think, was out with a concussion for a little bit. There was a yellow-card situation with some players. George John was in and out of the team; (Matt) Hedges was out for a while, so they were playing rotating center backs. So, I think all that had an impact at the time. But obviously, we expect them to be pretty healthy on Saturday.”

Dallas forward Blaz Perez also is expected back from CONCACAF Gold Cup duty with runner-up Panama, and goalkeeper Raul Fernandez is back after starting the MLS All-Star game Wednesday.

Seattle is also creeping closer to full strength. Forward Eddie Johnson is back from duty with the Gold Cup champion United States national team. Rookie defender DeAndre Yedlin is expected to be available after playing 24 minutes in the All-Star game.

Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, who has been out with a hamstring injury, practiced Thursday and Friday, and Schmid said Hahnemann’s availability as either a starter or reserve will be a game-time decision.

Seattle’s two-game unbeaten streak, combined with Dallas’ eight-game winless streak, have pulled the Sounders to four points behind the Hoops and the Vancouver Whitecaps, who open the weekend in the fifth and final Western Conference playoff spot.

The Sounders’ climb also has been boosted by an unbeaten run at home that dates to mid-March. A win or tie Saturday would establish a club-record nine-game unbeaten streak at CenturyLink Field.

“Every time a team comes here, they’re looking forward to (beating us), because let’s face it, we have the best fans in the country,” forward Eddie Johnson said. “Anytime you can come and play in a stadium in front of 40,000-plus, you don’t need any more motivation as a soccer player here in this country or anywhere in the world. We know it’s going to be a tough game, but the guys have gotten two good results (in the past two games).”

SOUNDERS GAMEDAY

FC DALLAS (8-5-8; 32 points) At Sounders FC (8-7-4; 28 points)

7:30 p.m., CenturyLink Field

TV: Ch. 5. Radio: 97.3-FM.

Head to head:The Sounders lead 5-1-4 overall and 3-1-1 in Seattle, including a 4-2 win on May 18. The clubs will meet again Oct. 19 in Frisco, Texas

Notes: Seattle is looking to extend its club-record home unbeaten streak to nine games. … Dallas is 1-4-5 on the road. … Dallas and Seattle are sixth and seventh, respectively, in the MLS Western Conference, where the first five finishers qualify for the playoffs. … Dallas is on an eight-game winless streak (0-3-5). … Sounders coach Sigi Schmid called the availability of goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann (hamstring) a game-time decision. If he is unable to go, Andrew Weber likely would make his fourth straight appearance, because No. 1 keeper Michael Gspurning (forearm) has been out since July 13. … Blas Perez leads Dallas with six goals, and David Ferreira leads with six assists. … Defender George John, who attended the University of Washington from 2005-2008, leads Dallas with a plus-8 goals rating. … Dallas forward Eric Hassli is out, serving a one-game suspension for violent conduct. … Seattle forward Eddie Johnson is back from national team duty, and defender DeAndre Yedlin is back from playing in the MLS All-Star Game. … Dallas leads MLS in fouls suffered. … Seattle defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado is one yellow card away from a one-game suspension for accumulation. … The referee is slated to be Edvin Jurisevic.

Quotable: “They’re dangerous on their … set pieces and corners, because they’ve got so many big guys they send forward. ... When you play Dallas. it’s usually an open game, because they like to go forward and they like to attack, and they leave themselves a little open sometimes in the back because of that.” — Schmid on FC Dallas

Next: Sounders FC visits Toronto FC at 4 p.m. Aug. 10.

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt

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