The Seattle Sounders have played just one game in the past 3 1/2 weeks, but they insist they'll develop a rhythm once their schedule becomes more consistent.
They have a golden opportunity to start making good on their word.
With a lengthy stretch of inactivity over, the Sounders hope to get back into a groove Wednesday night when they host league-worst D.C. United.
Seattle (6-5-3) didn't win until its sixth game of the season, but rattled off a 6-1-1 stretch that included a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Vancouver on June 8.
The Sounders then had 13 days off before falling 2-0 at Real Salt Lake on June 22, and they'll have had 10 more to sit idle before they take the pitch against United. But Wednesday's game is the first of three in 11 days, and Seattle won't have more than seven days between matches from now until the end of the season.
"We're just trying to form that chemistry. It's good to have that timing right," forward Eddie Johnson told the team's official website. "It's rhythm. It's playing game after game. Once we get our rhythm, we all know what we can do."
Johnson, tied for the team lead with four goals, played 73 minutes against Salt Lake in his first action after nearly a month with the U.S. national team. That's where Brad Evans was as well, and the Sounders certainly looked rusty in their return, failing to register a shot on goal.
Besides having Johnson and Evans back, Seattle has some injured players primed to return. Lamar Neagle, Osvaldo Alonso and DeAndre Yedlin are feeling better, and coach Sigi Schmid said he hopes to get at least two of the three back for Wednesday's match.
Schmid himself is on the mend, having had partial knee replacement surgery last week. He expects to be on the sidelines against D.C.
"We've got a set rhythm now," Evans said. "We know what our schedule is going to be the rest of the year, so there are no excuses."
There certainly won't be a viable explanation if the Sounders fail to secure three points against United (2-12-3).
D.C. rolled into the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup with a 3-1 win over New England last Wednesday, but its MLS fortunes have been vastly different. After beating San Jose on June 22 for its first league win since early March, United fell 1-0 to Vancouver on Saturday.
"After (we're) patient and (goals don't) come, we start to be nervous," recently acquired midfielder Alain Rochat said. "We miss the easy passes. Like I said, everything is against us. It's hard to find an explanation."
While the Sounders are looking forward to a busier schedule, United may be a bit overworked. Wednesday marks D.C.'s seventh game since June 8 across all competitions, and it will play in Colorado on Sunday before getting a 12-day break.
The teams played to a scoreless draw at RFK Stadium last year, and Seattle won 3-0 at home in 2011, D.C.'s last visit.
Another empty offensive performance from United would be no surprise. Dwayne De Rosario's goal at Dallas on May 11 is their only one in seven road games this season.
- Sports & Recreation