Things were looking bleak for Jon Snow and his army in “Game of Thrones” this past weekend. Then help came galloping over the hill.
It was a stirring moment in the HBO series, and in dozens of Westerns that came before. But Seattle coach Sigi Schmid implied this week that it’s no blueprint for his Sounders.
Yes, a new transfer window is opening in about 10 days, and yes, general manager Garth Lagerwey has indicated that the club plans to sign a couple of difference-making players. But international moves can take a while, and so can settling into a new team and a new league. It could be weeks — months — before those difference-makers are able to make a difference.
The ninth-place Sounders might not have that kind of time to turn things around. So, instead of waiting for the cavalry to coming riding to the rescue, Schmid wants his Sounders to find the magic within themselves, starting Saturday when New York City FC makes its inaugural visit to CenturyLink Field.
“Obviously, the transfer window is still important for us,” Schmid said. “We’re actively looking for some support and some help. But right now, the team that’s out there, I can’t get on them too much from a standpoint that we are creating chances, and we’ve got to continue to create chances.”
The Sounders come into this weekend having scored the fewest goals in MLS: 13 goals in 14 games. Two of those came from designated player Clint Dempsey, who will miss the NYCFC match while concluding his Copa America Centenario duties with the United States national team.
That could leave Schmid to turn once again to a top line of 21-year-old Jordan Morris, 22-year-old Aaron Kovar, and 24-year-old Joevin Jones. He could go even younger with 20-year-old Oalex Anderson. But Schmid also has the option of adding the veteran presence of 34-year-old Herculez Gomez and/or 32-year-old DP Nelson Valdez.
It could help that the Sounders are about to face the team that has surrendered the most goals in MLS. Players and coaches regularly maintain that once a few goals find the back of the net, others could follow in waves.
“We’re creating so many chances,” captain Brad Evans said. “Chances we know can change games and can change the course of a season. I know we’ve been dwelling on that pretty hard. … Once that clicks and the ball starts finding the back of the net, we hope to get on a roll and start climbing the ladder a bit. … It’s a few inches here or there. Maybe that’s a confidence thing.”
Despite losing three of their past four games, the Sounders enter the weekend just five points out of playoff position. That seems more than manageable with 20 games to go. But they want to start chipping away immediately.
“We haven’t really talked about (the standings) in that way yet,” Schmid said. “What we’re really talking about is maximizing our points at home. … This game for us on Saturday is a big game. We want to get the three points out of that. Then we’ll think about the Open Cup game. Then we’ll think about Toronto. But it’s really all about maximizing our points at home. If we can maximize our points at home, we’ll achieve our goal.”
SEATTLE SOUNDERS (5-8-1; 16 POINTS) VS. NEW YORK CITY FC (5-5-6; 21 POINTS)
2 p.m., Saturday, CenturyLink Field
TV: ESPN. Radio: 97.3-FM.
Head to head: Seattle won the only previous meeting, 3-1, last season at Yankee Stadium. This is the only scheduled meeting.
Notes: Seattle has scored the fewest goals in MLS: 13. NYCFC has allowed the most: 31. … The Sounders have lost four of their past five matches, three by shutout. NYCFC is 1-2-2 over its past five but coming off of a 3-2 win over Philadelphia. The goals in that one came from City’s three designated players: Frank Lampard, David Villa and Andrea Pirlo. All are believed available for this match. … Villa leads MLS with 11 goals, 95 shots and 38 shots on target. Jordan Morris leads Seattle with five goals. … Seattle will be without DP forward Clint Dempsey, who is in his final day away with the United States national team. City’s Jason Hernandez is out while serving a red-card suspension. … NYCFC is 3-2-1 on the road and unbeaten in its last three. The Sounders are 4-3 at home. This will be the first match of the season played with CenturyLink Field opened to full capacity. The Sounders are 15-2-3 all-time when playing before crowds of 45,000 or more. The temporary natural-grass pitch used for Copa America has been removed, and the game will be played on the regular FieldTurf surface. … The Sounders will celebrate Pride Day. A list of activities appears on the Sounders Insider blog at thenewstribune.com. … The Seattle Mariners have a 7:10 p.m. Saturday game at nearby Safeco Field. … The referee is Alan Kelly.
Quote: “Obviously a world-class striker. You want to test yourself against the best. So a very difficult challenge, but an opportunity to show that our defense can handle a top-class striker. It presents a challenge but also opportunity.” Seattle centerback and captain Brad Evans on Villa.
Next: The Sounders visit Real Salt Lake at 7 p.m. Tuesday for a fifth-round match in the U.S. Open Cup. Seattle returns to MLS play July 2 at Toronto FC.