Friday is scheduled as the fun day in Tottenham Hotspur’s visit to Seattle.
Saturday is game day, and the Seattle Sounders know firsthand that isn’t always fun. Not if you get mauled; not even in a friendly.
That was the case in 2011, when Seattle played host to Manchester United — then champions of the English Premier League — and got overrun, 7-0.
“Oh yeah, that one,” Sounders veteran Brad Evans said when asked about the beating. “… That game obviously was embarrassing, to say the least. And I think we’ve come a long way since then in our mentality with these games and how we’re going to approach it.”
Seattle trailed the Red Devils, 1-0, before making eight lineup changes at halftime and even more as the game played out. United greeted the newcomers with goals in the 49th, 51st, 69th, 71st, 72nd and 88th minutes.
“I think maybe the Man U game was just one of those one-offs with maybe the timing of the game … and us maybe trying to get everybody onto the field to have the experience, and them brining on some subs that were a lot better than our subs,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “So it got out of hand. I think this will be a very competitive match.”
Schmid said some Sounders will play the entire 90 minutes against Tottenham — something no one did against Man U — and he will not clear his bench just to get everyone experience against an EPL team.
He said the different approach isn’t because of what happened against Manchester United, but rather because of where this game falls within the Major League Soccer season.
The Sounders want to maintain a roll that currently has them at the top of the table. And this friendly is being greeted as a way to maintain rhythm between the league win Sunday against Portland and the next MLS match coming up July 28 against Los Angeles.
“It allows us to put our players on the field,” Schmid said. “There are maybe certain guys that we maybe don’t want to put as many minutes on as some others. There’s also some guys that we haven’t been able to play that we can maybe step on the field and see where they’re at. So there might be a few tweaks to what was our starting lineup in the last game, but in general I think that’s the lineup you’ll see.”
Schmid and Evans agreed the match shouldn’t be seen as a meaningful measurement of how close MLS is to the EPL, or even how close the Sounders are to Tottenham. The teams have different priorities and are at different points of training, with MLS in the middle of its season, while the EPL is just beginning its preseason.
Both also agreed that — friendly or not — competitiveness will kick in for whatever players are on the pitch.
“It’s a balancing act of having fun while also taking the game serious, because you don’t want to have people watching on TV and have you wiped across the board,” Evans said. “Obviously that’s not fun, to lose games. Nobody wants to lose games, whether you’re playing in training or you’re playing Tottenham.”
The time for fun comes Friday, when Tottenham will make several public appearances across Seattle.
Two Sounders and Spurs will meet at 2:45 p.m. at Pike Place Market for tea, fish tossing, and helping out on the rooftop urban garden. From 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. former Sounders star Kasey Keller and former Tottenham star Ledley King will sign autographs and meet fans at the CenturyLink Field Pro Shop. And from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tottenham will hold a free and open training session inside CenturyLink Field.
Sounders and U.S. national team members Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin are expected back at training Friday after attending the ESPYs sports awards ceremony Wednesday in Los Angeles. … The Sounders have sent forward David Estrada on loan to the Charlotte Eagles of USL Pro.