On paper, this looks like a worst-case scenario for Seattle Sounders FC. A team struggling through the first half of its season, Seattle has to play in Los Angeles tonight – the team’s third game in a week – against the Galaxy, the best team in the league.
Then again, on paper Seattle was supposed to be a playoff-caliber team this season, so maybe tonight won’t turn out so badly.
And since there is no changing the schedule midway through the season, Sounders FC players are embracing the challenge of facing the first-place Galaxy tonight. If a turnaround season is going to happen, it might as well start tonight.
“At the moment in this league, there’s no better place to play and win than L.A.,” midfielder Steve Zakuani said. “They’re the bench mark for every other MLS team, including ourselves. There’s no better place for us to play right now. And I’m confident going in there. We went there and won last year, so we have that in the back of our minds, and we’ve always done reasonably well against L.A., except that last game.”
That last game against L.A. that Zakuani speaks of was the embarrassing 4-0 loss at Qwest Field earlier this season. At the time that loss seemed like rock bottom, but Seattle keeps hitting new lows in the follow-up to its wildly successful inaugural season in 2009. After losing four of its last five games, Seattle is now 4-7-3 and in seventh place in the eight-team Western Conference. Seattle already has as many losses as it did all of last season.
“That was like a fluke year,” midfielder Freddie Ljungberg said. “We played amazingly and we have to be realists sometimes that that’s how it is.”
Ljungberg isn’t saying his team can’t improve, just that last year might have led to the bar being set a bit too high.