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Sounders prepare for home playoff Halloween party

SannaNyassi (ISIphotos.com) 

Photo by ISIphotos.com

By JOSE M. ROMERO

Come Halloween Night in and around the Emerald City, there figures to be tens of thousands of adults and kids dressed as ghosts, superheroes and Seattle Sounders. 

A lot those folks wearing rave green will be in their seats at Qwest Field. Seattle's first home playoff match is Oct. 31 at 5 p.m., its leg of the two-leg MLS Western Conference semifinals. Only the opponent remains to be determined. 

This is where the speculation starts and perhaps a little strategy comes into play. Do the Sounders play hard and try to win out in their last two MLS regular-season matches — the first of those is Friday night at 8 p.m. Pacific against Chivas USA on ESPN2 — and hope to maintain their streak of four MLS wins in a row? It's six straight if one counts a CONCACAF Champions League win over CD Marathon, the U.S. Open Cup final victory over Columbus and Tuesday night's friendly, a 3-1 win over Chivas de Guadalajara. 

Do the Sounders rest a few top players? Do they even consider dropping out of their current No. 4 spot in the West, which would put them against the top-seeded L.A. Galaxy, and shoot for the No. 3 or 4 seed in the East, where they'd face New York or Columbus in the opening round?

That could happen anyway. Seattle's last two regular-season opponents are two teams going nowhere, Chivas USA and Houston, but the San Jose Earthquakes, currently the the No. 3 seed in the East with 43 points to the Sounders' 45, have three games left in the regular season. Colorado, at 42 points the current No. 4 seed in the East, has two games to play. 

Coach Sigi Schmid doesn't seem to be the type to ease up on the momentum for any reason, the thinking being that he'd rather have his team going into the playoffs on a roll. The Seattle Times reported Thursday night that a first-team lineup is expected to start against Chivas USA on Fan Appreciation Night, the regular-season home finale Friday.

Schmid said he has learned not to wish for any particular opponent, but the Sounders did defeat the Crew twice in 2010, plus a draw, and split two matches with the Red Bulls. They lost twice to the Galaxy in MLS play and defeated L.A. in the U.S. Open Cup. 

Friday night completes an interesting week for the Sounders. Last Saturday at Kansas City, the club secured its second straight playoff berth after defeating the Wizards 2-1. Midfielder Sanna Nyassi, who is having an October to remember, scored the opening goal. 

On Tuesday, the club played a match at home for the first time without a dominant advantage in the stands, as Las Chivas had thousands of supporters among the 41,047 in attendance.

"Hopefully we convinced some of the Chivas fans that the Seattle Sounders are worth supporting as well," Schmid said.  

Members of the team's largest supporters group, the Emerald City Supporters, boycotted the match because, according to them, the team is/was involved in three competitions (MLS, CONCACAF and U.S. Open Cup) already and the timing of a "meaningless" friendly against Chivas was unnecessary, given that the team is headed for the MLS playoffs and needs its first-team players in top form.

The gesture was one of protest against the front office, which scheduled three international friendlies this season, while the ECS stated its opinion that there should only be one given the team's already-packed schedule. The ECS did encourage its ranks to donate unused tickets to a local Boys & Girls club.  

That meant more tickets for others who might otherwise not get to experience a Sounders game, and both the Latino and non-Latino communities responded with a big crowd for a weeknight match. 

"Certainly our fans have been there the whole time and I'm not going to get on their case," Schmid said. "They've supported us the whole time and I expect them to be behind us full force on Friday night when we play Chivas USA."

Seattle has yet to beat Chivas USA in MLS play in its history. The Sounders are 0-2-2 all-time against Chivas USA and have never scored against the Goats. Seattle defeated Chivas in a U.S. Open Cup match 3-1 on Sept. 1.

Comments

  1. Montero played 15 min. Nyassi 2 min. Fernandez 45 min. Jaqua 75 min.

    Jaqua and Fernandez needed to get minutes, they hadn’t been playing 90 minutes consistently.

    “[they] all took needless tackles and risked injury.”
    They are paid professionals. I didn’t hear them or management complaining. I think this was just an attempt for the supporters clubs to attempt to throw weight around.

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  2. playoff system far better. keeps more people interested in league longer. this is why the EPL gets boring as far as cup chase midway through the year.

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  3. The match was originally scheduled at a time when our playoff status wasn’t assured and when we still were in the running for advancing in CCL. The boycott was in the works since the day the friendly was announced.

    Futhermore, Fernandez, Montero, Nyassi and Jaqua – all players that will presumably see significant, meaningful minutes in the playoffs – played in the friendly and all took needless tackles and risked injury.

    Ultimately, the decision by our FO to play a meaningless match this late in the season with key fixtures surrounding it is asinine regardless of how things worked out and the point needed to be made before 2011’s schedule is drafted.

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  4. Heading out toward Qwest in few minutes. Although the retarded playoff format means we’re technically better off falling to seventh, it’s probably better to try and maintain this ridiculous form and ride into the playoffs in fifth gear. Playing like we’ve been playing since early July there’s not a team in the league we should fear. Besides, karma tends to bite teams in the *ss when they get too cutesy with this stuff. And with San Jose only 2 points behind and possessing a game in hand, we could very well fall to seventh even trying to win out.

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  5. Boycotting game because too many games on schedule…? Hilarious…and pointless. ..especially considering only fringe players played in that Chivas friendly. It is good/important for bench players like Boss, Estrada, Seamon, Graham, Fucito, Montano, etc to get significant minutes against a quality opponent. What a ridiculous protest…though it was nice of them to give the tickets to some kids.

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  6. This is how I think the playoffs should work:

    1. LA Galaxy vs 8. Colorado Rapids

    2. Real Salt Lake vs 7. San Jose

    3. FC Dallas vs 6. Seattle Sounders

    4. NY Red Bulls vs 5. Columbus Crew

    This is how the MLS playoffs work:

    East:

    NY Red Bulls vs Colorade Rapids

    Columbus Crew vs San Jose

    West:

    Los Angeles vs Seattle Sounders

    Real Salt Lake vs FC Dallas

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  7. The U-18 Sounders Academy is playing the U-17 MNT before the game at Qwest. For some reason it is closed to the public (even those with a ticket to the first team game), which is an absolute shame.

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  8. The players need to rest. It’s been a grueling season thus far. Between MLS play, US Open Cup, Champions League, and friendly matches, the top players have earned a little time off. It’s going to be a tough playoff match up, no matter what seed they’ll have so there is no need to risk injury (especially with them having to play on turf).

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  9. Terrible time for a playoff game for those with younger kids.

    Unless someone is a little bit banged up they should play. I could see sitting a player out for the last game to prevent a dumb red card from happening

    Reply

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