Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer: "It's nice to be home, but it is a long season."

The road-heavy span is over. Seattle gets four of its next six matches at CenturyLink Field, starting Saturday against New England. And, of course, the MLS Cup rematch with Toronto FC looms a week later in Seattle.
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The road-heavy span is over. Seattle gets four of its next six matches at CenturyLink Field, starting Saturday against New England. And, of course, the MLS Cup rematch with Toronto FC looms a week later in Seattle.
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Sounders FC

Road-weary Sounders ready for extended stay at CenturyLink

By Todd Milles

tmilles@thenewstribune.com

April 28, 2017 02:44 PM

TUKWILA

A 2-2-3 record heading out of April?

For the most part, the Seattle Sounders are OK with that.

They knew when they saw the start of the schedule, they would be in a tough spot by playing five of their first seven MLS matches on the road.

Plus, the reigning champions have had to deal with a spate of national team call-ups, and a rash of injuries that has decimated their defense.

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But the road-heavy span is over. Seattle gets four of its next six matches at CenturyLink Field, starting Saturday against New England.

And, of course, the MLS Cup rematch with Toronto FC looms a week later in Seattle.

“We pride ourselves on playing at home — playing really attractive, attacking soccer,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “That is what we will go for. Every time we go out and try and perform with an attacking mindset, we defend very well. And for some reason we pin teams back and make it difficult for them to play here.”

But even a young, fit Roldan explained that traveling to that many different cities, and playing in those various stadiums in a short span can take a toll on anybody.

“You are fatigued from all of that stuff,” Roldan said. “You just don’t play as well as you usually do at home.

Last Sunday, the Sounders ended that stretch with an emphatic 3-0 victory at Los Angeles.

“That was crucial for us,” Roldan said.

But it means very little if the Sounders do not take advantage by piling up wins at home. They have a 13-match unbeaten streak going at CenturyLink Field.

“There is this false sense of security that teams sometimes have when they know they have the later part of their schedule loaded with a lot of home games,” Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “It’s not like you are going to Old Trafford (home of Manchester United), where it is very, very difficult to get a point.

“Granted, our venue is supported really well, and is a difficult place to come in and play. But you can’t bank on the fact we have 18 points in the bank here (winning at home). You have to earn all of those.”

The team held training at CenturyLink Field on Thursday, then wrapped up its week of work Friday at Starfire Sports.

NOTES

The Sounders defense likely will be without three starters Saturday. Right back Brad Evans (calf), who is back to training with the club, will be out, as will center back Brad Evans (hamstring). And center back Chad Marshall (back) is doubtful to suit up as well, coach Brian Schmetzer said. … With the victory over the Galaxy, Frei became the 24th goalkeeper in MLS history to win 50 career games.