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Know Your Opponent: Seattle Sounders FC

By Myles Bridgewater-Jackman, 02/14/18, 4:45PM PST

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Ahead of the preseason home opener, get to know Seattle Sounders FC.

After opening preseason play with a 2-1 victory over National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) side Sacramento Gold FC, Sacramento Republic FC turn their attention to their next preseason opponent: Seattle Sounders FC. This is the first time in club history that Republic FC will be facing the 2016 MLS Cup champions.

Ahead of the preseason home opener, get to know Seattle Sounders FC.

HEAD COACH

The Sounders are led by Brian Schmetzer, who, after being promoted to head coach following the departure of Sigi Schmidt in July of 2016, led the Seattle side to its first-ever MLS Cup five months later. Schmetzer’s Sounders repeated as Western Conference Champions the following year, returning to the 2017 MLS Cup for a rematch with Toronto FC, but were unable to lock up back-to-back championships as TFC completed its quest for the first domestic treble in MLS history.

While 2018 marks merely his third year at the helm of the MLS Sounders, Schmetzer’s history with the club dates back to the days of the club’s affiliation with the NASL. Following his graduation from high school in 1980, Schmetzer signed with the NASL Sounders and played with the team through its folding following the 1983 season. After spending time with a handful of other teams, Schmetzer returned to the APSL Sounders in 1994, helping the club to a first place finish in league play.

On the coaching side, Schmetzer returned to the A-League Sounders in 2002 earning Coach of the Year accolades, and continued to manage as head coach until the franchise’s transition into MLS prior to the 2009 season. He served as the MLS Sounders’ top assistant until his promotion in 2016.

KEY PLAYERS

After an irregular heartbeat sidelined Clint Dempsey for the latter half of the 2016 season, the Seattle Sounders’ star forward returned in full force for the 2017 campaign, leading his team to a second place finish in the West with 12 goals and five assists through 29 matches. The 34-year-old also took the fourth-most shots in MLS in 2017, 39 of which were on goal (19 more than any of his fellow teammates). Dempsey’s regular season performance saw him named the 2017 MLS Comeback Player of the Year.

Goalkeeper Stefan Frei started all but one match between the posts for the Sounders in 2017, earning a 13-9-11 record in 33 games. The Swiss international led the league with 13 shutouts last season, recording a 1.09 goals against average in 2970 minutes of play and helped his club to a 13-game unbeaten streak between June 21 and September 16. Since coming to Seattle in 2014, the 31-year-old goalkeeper has also become the club record holder in career saves and wins, while also taking home MLS Cup MVP honors in 2016 for his shutout performance and efforts in the penalty-kick shootout. 

After being acquired mid-season from Argentine-side Boca Juniors, Nicolás Lodeiro turned out a stellar playmaking year in his first full season with Seattle. The Uruguay native notched a team-leading 12 assists in 33 games played, scoring seven goals along the way. His best outing of 2017 came in Seattle’s 3-0 shutout of Vancouver Whitecaps FC on September 27, when the 28-year-old scored and earned two assists in his 90-minute performance.

HOME PITCH

Since their expansion season in 2009, the Seattle Sounders have made their home at CenturyLink Field. The stadium, designed with a 67,000 seat capacity (expandable to 72,000), regularly seats 38,300 during MLS regular season games.

2017 SEASON RECAP

Riding a 13-game unbeaten streak between June 21 and September 16, the Seattle Sounders earned a second-place regular-season finish within the hotly contested Western Conference. The 2017 Sounders’ 14-9-11 record secured a Knockout-Round bye, which automatically qualified the team for an appearance in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Seattle went on to face Vancouver Whitecaps in the semis, defeating the Cascadia rival in a two-game aggregate-goal series before claiming the Western Conference title with a 5-0 aggregate goal finish, besting Huston Dynamo over the course of two games. With aspirations to win it all, the Sounders rematched Toronto FC in the December 9th final before ultimately falling 2-0 at BMO Field in Toronto.

Thursday’s MATCH

Thursday’s match between Republic FC and Seattle Sounders FC will kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Papa Murphy’s Park. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com and there will also be tickets available at walkup. The match will be streamed at sacrepublicfc.com/matchday-guide and on the Republic FC YouTube channel. Updates will be provided via Twitter at @SacRepublicFC or using #SACvSEA.

 

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