Fitness a major factor for Sounders

sounders fc: Two days of recovery time since last match could affect club in U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comJune 26, 2012 

San Jose and Seattle will meet in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match at 7:30 tonight – three days after the Earthquakes’ last game, and two days since the Sounders’ latest game.

That’s a quick turnaround for both clubs, but those extra hours offer a real advantage for the Quakes, according to Dave Tenney, the Sounders’ fitness coach.

“There’s a significant difference,” he said. “From a physiological sense, 48 hours after, players are still recovering. It’s individualized enough: You will see some individuals who do have the ability to recover. … We’re going to do what we can do (to) maximize that recovery. And we can have those guys we know are fast recoverers come back and be able to turn around in time.”

U.S. Soccer designated this date for its quarterfinal matches on June 2, before the surviving clubs were determined.

In this pairing, it turned out to be the Earthquakes, who played a 6 p.m. match Saturday at Salt Lake, and the Sounders, who played a 2 p.m. match Sunday at Portland.

Tenney said the 20-hour difference can be a big advantage in such a short turnaround. However, he acknowledged things could have been worse.

“If you can play at 2, you’ll still be able to have a good night’s sleep,” Tenney said. “If you play at 7:30-8, then you’re still kind of going at midnight. We find that the later the game is, then the more that affects the guys’ sleep. We (had) a 2 p.m. game, then the long bus ride back. Guys should (have been) able to get a good night’s sleep in their own beds, which I think enhances the recovery.”

Sounders coach Sigi Schmid lived up to his promise before the Portland game to go with a lineup that would provide the best chance to beat the Timbers. But despite sending something close to his top 11 onto the pitch, Seattle lost, 2-1.

Now, the three-time defending U.S. Open Cup champion Sounders will go into this single-elimination quarterfinal with a lineup cobbled together from fresh reserves and recovering players willing to weather the quick turnaround.

“Obviously, it’s an advantage for (San Jose) to get the extra day of rest,” Schmid said. “It’s going to be very hard on our guys physically, but we’ll make do. It is what it is. … We’ll have to see what we can put out there for that game.”

Tenney predicted that any Sounders player asked to suit up would give it his best shot. And forward Fredy Montero quickly confirmed his willingness after the loss to Portland – especially because he picked up a red card in that game and is therefore ineligible for the Sounders’ next Major League Soccer match – Saturday at New England.

“If coach says I’m going to play, I play,” he said. “I’m ready always. I want to play always.”

Schmid sees the quick turnaround is unnecessarily demanding, and he has suggested that U.S. Soccer should have a rule against scheduling any club for an Open Cup game less than three days after a league game.

At lower levels of the sport, even shorter turnarounds sometimes occur.

“In the USL days I remember one game we played in Minnesota on a Saturday night, we flew to Montreal and played Sunday afternoon there,” Seattle’s Roger Levesque said. “That Sunday afternoon game didn’t go so well, but we were still out there and we still battled and we still fought. And that’s what this team will do … whoever’s out there.”

The Sounders had appealed to U.S. Soccer and the Earthquakes to push this match to Wednesday, however the date stayed firm. The Earthquakes say they were unable to secure a stadium for Wednesday.

SOUNDERS GAMEDAY

SOUNDERS FC (7-5-4 IN MLS) AT SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (10-3-3 )

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m., Kezar Stadium, San Francisco

Broadcast: 97.3-FM, 99.3-FM (Spanish); webcast at sjearthquakes.com, and audio at SoundersFC.com.

HEAD TO HEAD: This is their first Open Cup meeting. In MLS, the Earthquakes won, 1-0, March 31 in Seattle. The clubs will meet in two more league games: Aug. 11 at San Jose and Sept. 23 at CenturyLink Field.

NOTES: This is a quarterfinal match of the 99th U.S. Open Cup, the oldest annual team tournament in the United States. It is open to all amateur and professional clubs affiliated with U.S. Soccer. … Seattle has won the past three Open Cup titles. No club has won four in a row. The furthest San Jose has advanced is the tournament semifinals in 2004. … Seattle has never lost in 16 Open Cup matches, outscoring opponents by a combined 38-9. … This is the only quarterfinal match pairing MLS teams. Seattle advanced by defeating the Atlanta Silverbacks, 5-1, and Cal FC, 5-0. San Jose beat the Minnesota Stars, 1-0, and Fort Lauderdale Strikers, 2-1. … Sounders forward Fredy Montero is eligible. His one-game suspension following a red card at Portland takes affect in the next MLS match. … San Jose has the best record in MLS, while a seven-game winless streak has dropped the Sounders to fourth in the West. … Kezar Stadium was the home of the San Francisco 49ers until 1970, but that stadium was demolished and recreated as a 10,000-seat venue for soccer, football, lacrosse and track.

NEXT: The Sounders return to MLS play at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at New England. If they advance to the Open Cup semifinals, they will meet the winner of the Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro)-Chivas USA (MLS) match at 7 p.m. July 10 at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila.

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com 253-597-8808 blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

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