Preview: D.C. United vs. Seattle Sounders
The loss of Steve Zakuani and O’Brian White to significant leg injuries figured to further inhibit a Seattle Sounders team that was already having trouble scoring goals, but they responded with an excellent offensive performance.
A trip to the nation’s capital could help them top it.
Coming off a three-goal effort without Zakuani and White, the Sounders look to extend their unbeaten run to seven Wednesday night against defensively challenged D.C. United.
Seattle (3-2-3) wasn’t exactly thriving offensively with Zakuani and White in the lineup, but it did follow consecutive shutout losses by scoring six goals during a 1-0-3 stretch.
The Sounders, though, likely lost Zakuani for the season with a broken right leg suffered in a 1-0 win over Colorado on April 22. On Thursday, they found out they’d be without White indefinitely after the striker had surgery to remove a blood clot from his left leg.
That left little room for optimism heading into Saturday’s match with Toronto FC, but Brad Evans helped create some. The midfielder set up Alvaro Fernandez’s first-half goal, then scored twice in the second half as Seattle cruised to a 3-0 win.
"We talked about before the game of kind of doing it for them, so I think that was in the back of everybody’s mind," Evans said of Zakuani and White, who accounted for four of the Sounders’ first seven goals.
Evans moved over from his usual spot on the left side of the midfield to the right.
"Brad has played on the right before, and he’s comfortable out there,” coach Sigi Schmid said. "He has a good cross with the ball, as he showed on the first goal, then obviously, he finished his goal. He was unlucky not to get a couple more.”
There could be more opportunities for Evans, Fernandez and Montero – who has three goals in four matches against D.C. – on Wednesday. United (2-4-1) has allowed a league-worst 16 goals, half of which have come in the past two matches.
D.C. seemed to be improving defensively with a 1-all draw against Los Angeles on April 9 and a 3-0 win at Toronto a week later, but it lost 4-0 to New York on April 21 and 4-1 at Houston on Friday.
"We need to kind of assess where we stand with this team," coach Ben Olsen said. "Overall, today was just men vs. boys. It’s pretty simple. We talked all week … that it wasn’t really about tactics, it’s about who is the most manly, who are the most guys that are committed and ready to do the work. … We lost every matchup on the field."
Olsen implied during Monday’s training session that changes would be coming against Seattle, but he wouldn’t get into specifics.
One possibility is moving attacking midfielder Andy Najar back into the starting lineup, but there’s less concern over who can work with Chris Pontius and Charlie Davies up front as there is with the back end.
Defender Jed Zayner is out again after aggravating a hamstring injury against Houston, leaving rookie Chris Korb as his potential replacement.
The Sounders have won both league road games against United. D.C. won 3-2 in Seattle on June 10 on Pontius’ first career hat trick.