Sell out crowds are nothing new for Seattle Sounders FC home soccer games. A pair of matches at CenturyLink Field this week will lure the attention of thousands more fans both in person, and viewing on national television.
Saturday night Seattle renews its Cascadia Cup rivalry with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Thanks to a 4-match ticket promotion the Sounders expect more than 50-thousand in the house. The “rave green” have performed well in front of audiences in excess of 40-thousand, with a 6-0-2 MLS record.
“Our stadium is always loud an raucus, and it’s always pro-Sounders and gives you a great feeling”, said Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid. “When there are more people in there, it’s a little more electric and louder. For us, it’s also a chance to showcase ourselves to some people who don’t always get to see us play live.”
NBC Sports Network is bringing its “A team” with play-by-play announcer Arlo White, and color analyst Kyle Martino. First kick was moved to 7:30 to be part of a nationally televised soccer double-header.
After a slow start Sounders FC had a superb month of May with 4 victories in 5 league matches. Seattle now has 18 points, good enough for 6th place in the MLS Western Conference table. Vancouver Whitecaps FC are just one place below Sounders.
The Northwest clubs are also looking to wrestle the Cascadia Cup away from last year’s winner, the Portland Timbers. Seattle plays 4 of 6 Cup matches on its home pitch.
Sounders FC will be a bit shorthanded for the Whitecaps match. Midfielder Osvaldo Alonzo is still out with a groin injury. Steve Zakuani will miss several weeks following surgery for an abdominal injury.
Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans will not play for Seattle either. Both were called up to compete for the US National Team in World Cup qualifying matches, including one against Panama next Tuesday, June 11th in Seattle. Nearly 35-thousand tickets have been sold for that game.
FIFA rules require that game to be played on a grass surface, so sod is now covering the synthetic turf of CenturyLink Field. Coach Schmid believes his Sounders players will be able to adapt quickly.
“You prefer to get on it ahead of time, but we also want the grass to be as good as possible,” said Schmid. ”Mending the seams together and getting them to mesh right is a little bit of work. The sod comes in at a certain length, and it takes time to mow it down. We hope to take the players out early before the match to get a look at it.”
Sounders FC did get some good news this week when Major League Soccer reversed a red card ruling for striker Obafemi Martins. That means he will be in the lineup Saturday night against the Whitecaps.