Sounders FC

Sounders finally return to Seattle to face Sporting Kansas City on Saturday

Seattle Sounders FC is following its longest road stretch of the season with its busiest run of the season so far.

The Sounders are back home after three consecutive games on the road and a run of five out of six matches away. Now, those numbers reverse. But some of the advantage is mitigated because the next three home games are clustered over nine days, starting Saturday when Sporting Kansas City visits CenturyLink Field.

“First and foremost, it’s good to be back home,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “With that being said: tough opponent. I think they’re slowly starting to gel and getting their confidence. … We have to be sharp. And especially with our little stretch of road games. We had decent results with six points, but for those to count we have to make sure we get our points at home.”

While away, Seattle won at New York and Vancouver, with a loss between them at Columbus.

“The danger is sometimes you relax a little bit (at home),” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “I think we just have to remember what sparked our performance in Vancouver, what helped us in our performance in New York, and know what we did well on the road, because those are tenets of doing well at home as well.”

The Sounders are mostly healthy, with forward Obafemi Martins the only regular expected to be unavailable. Chad Barrett stepped into Martins’ spot last week, scoring both goals in the 2-0 win over the Whitecaps. He was named the Major League Soccer player of the week.

Any resting of players over the Sounders’ busy week ahead is expected to show up more in the middle game: Wednesday against Colorado. The homestand concludes May 31 against the New York Red Bulls.

“You have games thrown in on Wednesdays and you have to have people step up,” Barrett said. “I’m sure me and a couple of other guys on the team are definitely going to get their chance; and when you do, (you) need to be able to step up. But these are kind of exciting — three games in a week — there are nine points out there. ... That’s our objective: We’re looking to take nine out of nine.”

The more immediate fatigue factor could weigh against the visitors, as Sporting is coming off of a 4-2 home win this past Wednesday against New England.

However, the Sounders aren’t counting on that.

“Just because they played a game you think that they’re going to be tired,” goals leader Clint Dempsey said. “But they’re going to be up for the game, even though they played a midweek game. It’s what we’re going to have to deal with next week, but we just got to make sure that we bring our best.”

ADDED TIME

The Sounders have announced that they will open CenturyLink Field to its full capacity for four MLS regular-season games: Aug. 1 vs. Vancouver, Aug. 30 vs. Portland, Oct. 4 vs. Los Angeles and the regular-season finale Oct. 25 vs. Real Salt Lake. Tickets for those matches and the Manchester United vs. Club America game on July 17 are clustered in a “four-plus-one” ticket package. … The Sounders 2 USL team announced the signing of Brazilian midfielder Sergio Mota Mello. He is 25 years old with seven years of professional experience in Brazilian leagues, where he played under the single name “Sergio.” S2 general manager Andrew Opatkiewicz said “he makes players around him better, and he has the potential to develop into a Sounders FC first-team player.”

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