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Sounders FC News & Notes

March 25, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) Seattle Sounders FC

Back on the Road to Salt Lake

Seattle Sounders FC will revisit a Western Conference rival this weekend with a Saturday night meeting at Real Salt Lake. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. PT at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

Saturday's match will be televised on KONG 6/16 with Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller calling the action, and can also be heard on KIRO Radio 97.3. The match will also be televised live in Spanish on This-TV and can be heard on La Gran D 99.3 FM. The game will also be shown live out of market on ROOT Sports.

Sounders FC (0-2-1, 1 point) dropped its first away game of the season last Saturday, falling 1-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes. MLS Golden Boot-winner Chris Wondolowski notched the game's lone goal as Seattle keeper Michael Gspurning continued his strong start, making a season-high four saves.

To help the cause, national team players Eddie Johnson, Mario Martinez and Obafemi Martins will rejoin the team this week following World Cup Qualifiers. Midfielders Brad Evans and Shalrie Joseph are also expected to be available for selection for the weekend's match.

On Saturday, Sounders FC will return to the scene of one of its greatest victories in team history. In the team's last visit to Rio Tinto Stadium, Mario Martinez sent a blistering winner into Salt Lake's nets to help Seattle advance to its first-ever Western Conference Championship. Sounders FC also recently beat RSL twice in preseason play on its way to the 2013 FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup.

Unbeaten in its past three regular-season visits, Sounders FC will look for its first win of the season. Real Salt Lake (1-2-1, 4 points) lost on Saturday at FC Dallas, and were only able to salvage a 1-1 draw against Colorado in the lone home match of the season. Much like Seattle, Salt Lake will benefit from the return of internationals Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, Nick Rimando and Alvaro Saborio.

Following Saturday's match at Salt Lake, Sounders FC will return home to host Mexico's Santos Laguna in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals on April 2. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field. The second leg will be on April 9 in Torreon, Mexico.

Tickets to the Santos Laguna match on April 2 are available by phone at 800-745-3000 or www.SoundersFC.com .

Date Change: Sounders FC to Host Chivas USA on September 4

Seattle Sounders FC has changed the date for the next home league match. The team's April 7 match against Chivas USA has been moved to Wednesday, September 4. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field and will be televised locally on KONG 6/16. The match was moved in order to accommodate Seattle's CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal series against Mexico's Santos Laguna.

Been Here Before: Slow Start, Fast Finish

It may be a slow start to the 2013 MLS campaign for Sounders FC, but the Rave Green have been here before. And, if history can teach us anything, all will be okay by season's end.

With Saturday's result at San Jose, Sounders FC has earned just one point through its opening three games, matching 2011 for the fewest point total to start a season. Similarly, Sounders FC began the 2010 season with four points through three games. In both 2010 and 2011, Seattle turned the slow start into a strong finish, averaging 2.2 points per game over the final half of the season. Conversely, Sounders FC started strong in the inaugural campaign and last year saw the best nine-game start in club history, only to stumble over the second half of those seasons, averaging 1.67 (2009) and 1.8 (2012) points over the last half of the season.

Year Record after Three Games Record in Second Half of Season Overall Record

2009 3-0-0 (9 pts.) 7-4-4 (25 pts.) 12-7-11 (47 pts.)

2010 1-1-1 (4 pts.) 10-2-3 (33 pts.) 14-10-6 (48 pts.)

2011 0-2-1 (1 pt.) 12-3-2 (38 pts.) 18-7-9 (61 pts.)

2012 2-1-0 (6 pts.) 8-3-6 (30 pts.) 15-8-11 (56 pts.)

2013 0-2-1 (1 pt.) N/A N/A

Bounce Back: League Record Streak on the Line

Sounders FC will enter Saturday's match at Rio Tinto Stadium looking to extend its record streak of not losing consecutive games. The last time Seattle lost back-to-back league games was on March 19, 2011 - the longest stretch (736 days) in league history. The losses to Montreal and Tigres at the beginning of the 2013 season made for the first back-to-back losses across all competitions for Sounders FC since July 30, 2011.

Youth Movement: Zavaleta Debuts, Fairclough/Lund Sign

Over its first four seasons, Sounders FC has always had a good balance of veteran leadership mixed with young talent. Over the weekend, the club reaped the rewards of its youth with the debut of rookie Eriq Zavaleta (20 years old) and the signing of Jamaican defender Ashani Fairclough (20 years old) and Danish midfielder Philip Lund (23 years old).

Zavaleta came on for the final seven minutes of the team's 1-nil road loss to San Jose on Saturday. Despite the result, Seattle's top SuperDraft selection proved his versatility, playing up top after spending much of the preseason at center back. Zavaleta became the sixth-youngest player in club history to appear in a league match. And, with the additions of Fairclough and Lund, five of eight players new to the Sounders FC roster are 23-years-old or younger (Fairclough, Lund, Dylan Remick, Yedlin, Zavaleta).

The top seven youngest players to debut in a game for Sounders FC are:

Player Date Opponent Age (years-days)

Miguel Montano* 5/08/2010 vs. Los Angeles Galaxy 18 years-317 days

DeAndre Yedlin* 3/02/2013 vs. Montreal Impact 19 years-238 days

Cordell Cato* 5/9/2012 at FC Dallas 19 years-275 days

Sanna Nyassi* 3/19/2009 vs. New York Red Bulls 20 years-47 days

Amadou Sanyang 9/17/2011 vs. DC United 20 years-48 days

Eriq Zavaleta 3/23/2013 at San Jose Earthquakes 20 years-240 days

Steve Zakuani* 3/28/2009 vs. Real Salt Lake 21 years-47 days

*Multiple Appearances; Only Earliest Included

Going International: Martinez and Martins Start, Johnson Subs On

Three of Seattle's key attackers have been away on international duty for the past week. Eddie Johnson played 14 minutes and earned his 47th cap with the U.S. Men's National Team in a 1-0 win over Costa Rica on Friday evening in Denver. Johnson will remain with the team for Tuesday's qualifier against Mexico at Estadio Azteca. Midfielder Martinez started for Honduras and recorded an assist in a 2-2 comeback home draw against Mexico. Honduras will meet Panama in a road match on Tuesday. Lastly, Seattle's newest signee Obafemi Martins started and played 59 minutes for Nigeria in a 1-1 draw against Kenya. All three players are expected to return to Seattle later this week and join the team in preparations for Saturday's match at Real Salt Lake.

Nearing Full Strength

With the return of its three national team players (Johnson, Martinez and Martins) and the inclusion of injured players (Brad Evans and Shalrie Joseph), head coach Sigi Schmid may have his full complement of players this Saturday at Salt Lake. Schmid has started five different lineups in all five games in 2013, including four different backline groups, five different midfield combinations and three different forward combinations.

Seattle currently has 29 of its 30 roster spots occupied, including all three Designated Player spots and six of seven international spots. Defenders and midfielders dominate the roster, with three goalkeepers and four forwards rounding out the group.

2013 Sounders FC Roster

Goalkeepers (3): Josh Ford, Michael Gspurning, Marcus Hahnemann.

Defenders (11): Marc Burch, Andrew Duran, Ashani Fairclough, Leo Gonzalez, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Dylan Remick, Zach Scott, Djimi Traore, DeAndre Yedlin, Eriq Zavaleta.

Midfielders (11): Osvaldo Alonso, Servando Carrasco, Alex Caskey, Brad Evans, Philip Lund, Mario Martinez, Lamar Neagle, Mauro Rosales, Andy Rose, Shalrie Joseph, Steve Zakuani.

Forwards (4): David Estrada, Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins, Sammy Ochoa.

Summer Fun at CenturyLink Field

Seattle's CenturyLink Field will be busy this summer as soccer supporters from across the region will pack the stands to support club and national teams. Sounders FC will play six regular-season homes matches from June through August, plus an additional four of five league games in September at home. The U.S. Men's National Team will play a World Cup Qualifier in Seattle for the first time in nearly four decades, and the Gold Cup returns after visits to Seattle in 2005 and 2009.

CenturyLink Field Schedule - June through August

Date, kickoff (PT) Matchup Competition

June 8, 7:30 p.m. Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC MLS Regular Season

June 11, 6:30 p.m. U.S. National Team vs. Panama World Cup Qualifier

July 3, 7 p.m. Sounders FC vs. DC United MLS Regular Season

July 11, 5:30 p.m. Panama vs. Martinique Gold Cup

July 11, 8 p.m. Mexico vs. Canada Gold Cup

July 20, 1 p.m. Sounders FC vs. Colorado Rapids MLS Regular Season

July 28, 6 p.m. Sounders FC vs. Chivas USA MLS Regular Season

Aug. 3, 7:30 p.m. Sounders FC vs. FC Dallas MLS Regular Season

Aug. 25, 7 p.m. Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers MLS Regular Season

Real Salt Lake Series Notes

Sounders FC is 4-4-5 all-time against Real Salt Lake in MLS play, including playoffs. Seattle holds a 1-1-2 mark at Rio Tinto Stadium, most notably ending Salt Lake's league record 28-game home unbeaten streak in 2011. Sounders FC went 1-1-3 against RSL in 2012, with just two goals scored between the two sides in 450 minutes of play. The two teams last met in the second leg of the 2012 Western Conference Semifinals as Mario Martinez scored the late winner on the road to advance, 1-0 on aggregate.

Alvaro Saborio leads all active players in the matchup with two goals, while Osvaldo Alonso leads the way with two assists. Goalkeepers Michael Gspurning and Nick Rimando both excelled in the teams' matchups last season, both allowing just one goal in five matches (including playoffs).

About Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake has earned four points (1-2-1) through four games in the 2013 season with a -1 goal differential (three goals scored/four goals allowed). Their lone win came in a 2-0 road result at San Jose in the season opener, and the club has played just one home match so far this season, a 1-1 draw with Colorado. Since 2009, RSL has amassed 210 points (59-30-33), third in MLS behind only the LA and Seattle. The Claret and Cobalt have made the MLS Cup Playoffs in five consecutive seasons and won the MLS Cup in 2009. They also became the first MLS team to make a CONCACAF Champions League Final in 2011, falling to Monterrey, 3-2 on aggregate.

RSL Notables

Coach Jason Kreis' attack is led by forward Alvaro Saborio, who is second in MLS with three goals so far this season, including a brace in the season opener at San Jose. The Costa Rican has 43 career MLS goals since entering the league in 2010, including a career-high 17 in 2012 (third in MLS), and has recently joined his national team for World Cup Qualifiers. Kyle Beckerman patrols the midfield for Salt Lake and has made 150 starts since joining the club in 2007. The U.S. international recorded an assist in the season opener. Midfielder Luis Gil is one of four players to have started all four games in 2013, adding an assist in a 1-1 draw vs. Colorado.

Goalkeeper Nick Rimando has been one of the most accomplished keepers in MLS history over his 14-year career, ranking third all-time in career starts in goal (322) and saves (1,152), and second in shutouts (100) and wins (138).

SEA/RSL Connections

Seattle striker Eddie Johnson and Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis played together for four seasons (2001-2004) with the Dallas Burn. Both Leo Gonzalez and Alvaro Saborio began playing for the Costa Rica National Team in 2002. Saborio played for Gonzalez's rival club, Saprissa, for five seasons. Seattle's Mauro Rosales and Salt Lake's Javier Morales are from Argentina. Sigi Schmid coached Ned Grabavoy for one season at Los Angeles (2004).

Santos Update

Santos Laguna, Seattle's opponent in the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals, is currently 11 games into their 17-game Clausura in Liga MX. Santos is currently tied-third with a record of 6-2-3 (21 points). The club is undefeated at home, winning four of five, and has lost just once on the road. After defeating Houston 3-nil in the second leg of the quarterfinal series, Santos beat Atlas 2-1 on the road and will play Queretaro on Saturday at home. Santos will have games during the semifinal series with a match at Tijuana on April 6 and at home against Toluca on April 12.

Throw-ins

Come to the Downtown Pro Shop on Tuesday, March 26 from 6-7pm to meet Lamar Neagle - bring your MatchPass and earn 500 points...The referee for Saturday's match is Mark Geiger. His assistants are Corey Parker and Brian Dunn, and fourth official Allen Chapman. Seattle will wear Rave Green with Salt Lake in Claret and Cobalt...The officials for the first leg against Santos Laguna are from Honduras, led by referee Hector Rodriquez. The crew for the second leg is from Guatemala, led by referee Walter Lopez... Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning will be suspended for the first leg against Santos Laguna due to yellow card accumulation. Gspurning was issued his second yellow card of the tournament in the 86th minute of the second leg versus Tigres.

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