The Seattle Sounders are far from an offensive juggernaut, and without two of their key attacking contributors, will need to continue their solid defensive play of late to stay in contention for the top seed in the Western Conference.
Seattle seeks a sixth victory in seven matches while extending its unbeaten streak to 11 over last-place Chivas USA on Wednesday night.
The Sounders (12-8-4) are in third place and trail Real Salt Lake by eight points for the West lead, but they have four games in hand and have played the fewest league matches.
Seattle posted its second straight shutout and third in five contests after Eddie Johnson scored in the 14th minute of Saturday's 1-0 win over Columbus. The Sounders have recorded nine clean sheets overall while conceding a conference-low 26 goals to overcome scoring only 32, which is seventh in the West.
"One of our team goals is defending top to bottom,'' Johnson said. "If we can defend good for 90 minutes-plus we know one goal can get us a victory."
Johnson, who left the game in the 61st minute with tightness in his hamstrings, will miss this match along with Clint Dempsey after both were named to the 23-man United States roster for World Cup qualifiers versus Costa Rica on Friday and Mexico next Tuesday.
Midfielder Brad Evans, dropped from the U.S. team after suffering a calf strain in Saturday's win, is unlikely to play, and left back Leo Gonzalez will miss this match after getting a red card in the 7th minute on Saturday.
"We're still going to approach the game trying to win," coach Sigi Schmid told the team's website after practice Monday. "We have to look at where we are physically and try and get a team out on the field that's ready to play - that has the experience, but is also physically in a good frame."
Striker Obafemi Martins - tied with Johnson for the team lead with seven goals - may be in line for a return after missing the last three matches with an ankle injury. He could be partnered up front with Lamar Neagle - the two have combined for four goals and five assists in five matches, with the Sounders going 4-0-1.
Chivas (5-14-7), which has dropped four straight to Seattle after a 2-1 road defeat July 28, has one win in its last six matches (1-3-2) after settling for a 2-all draw with Vancouver on Sunday. Erick Torres scored both goals, including one on an overhead bicycle kick, in the opening 14 minutes to give him four in his last two matches.
Coach Jose Luis Real, though, wasn't pleased his club couldn't hold on for a much-needed victory after conceding the equalizer in the third minute of injury time in the second half.
"I'm happy with the development of Chivas in the game, but angry for the result because 2-0 was a big opportunity to win the game,'' Real said. ''Maybe two mistakes on defense and we lost the opportunity to get our second win (in a row).''
Torres, who scored in the July loss to Seattle, has six goals in seven MLS matches since arriving from Chivas' Mexican team last month.
Chivas is 0-6-4 since beating Seattle 1-0 on June 6, 2009.
- Sports & Recreation
- Chivas USA
- Real Salt Lake