Two Sounders prepare for stay in Utah

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comJune 13, 2013 

Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson might be about to play back-to-back games at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

Evans and Johnson and the rest of the Unites States national men’s soccer team will fly to the Salt Lake area Thursday to begin preparation for their match with Honduras there Tuesday.

After that, there will be a break in the team’s World Cup qualifying schedule that could allow Evans and Johnson to return to Seattle Sounders FC for its next Major League Soccer game – which happens to be June 22 against Real Salt Lake.

“Everything depends on how many minutes they’ve played for the national team and stuff like that,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “Our expectation is obviously we could use them when we play Salt Lake. But then after the Salt Lake game, we don’t play again until July 3; we would probably use a little of that time … to maybe give those guys a break.”

Most of the Sounders are taking a break this week. The team followed its Saturday win over Vancouver with three days off, then trained Monday and Tuesday before being excused again. They will begin preparations for the match at RSL next week.

“I think we need some time off,” Schmid said. “It comes at a good point. It’s kind of in the middle of the season, and guys can get away a little bit.”

Seattle is the hottest team in MLS with five wins in its past six matches. However, the Sounders (6-4-3, 21 points) are still looking up at RSL (8-5-3, 27 points) in the league standings, although Seattle has three games in hand.

Both teams are in playoff position, with Salt Lake second and Seattle fourth in the Western Conference, where the top five finishers will make the postseason.

Things also are looking up for the U.S. national team, which rose to the top of its six-nation World Cup qualifying group with a 2-0 win over Panama on Tuesday before a crowd of 40,847 at CenturyLink Field.

Evans played 90 minutes at right back, and Johnson scored the final goal of the game and his 15th for the national team, tying him with Cobi Jones for 10th on the team’s all-time list.

“It’s a dream come true,” Johnson said. “To play in the U.S. jersey first of all is an honor. To play in front of the fans I play in front of week in and week out, I couldn’t have asked for a better feeling after the goal tonight.”

After the Honduras match, the U.S. takes a break from World Cup qualifying until Sept. 6 at Costa Rica where it begins its push through the final four qualifiers.

ADDED TIME

Sounders midfielder Steve Zakuani underwent successful sports hernia surgery on his right side Tuesday, the club said. Zakuani, 25, started six league games this season, with one assist. His last appearance was April 20 at Colorado. He is expected to need six to eight weeks of recovery time. … Sounders Women goalkeeper Erin McNaulty was named W-League player of the week after being in goal for two wins and a draw on the road.

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

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