Sounders notes: Rave Green moving into contention; Dempsey likely to start without Johnson, Martins; and more

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By JASON MITCHELL

The Seattle Sounders (10-7-4, 34 points) head into the weekend tied with the Los Angeles Galaxy for the fifth and final Western Conference playoff spot, rounding into form just as they add Clint Dempsey and finally return to a semblance of full strength.

The lightest schedule in the league paired with a franchise-worst 0-3-2 collapse out of the gate and a 1-3-1 stretch earlier this summer all belie a crackling 1.62 points-per-game average, good for second best in the conference and third best in the entire league.

Riding a three-game win streak, Seattle now trails Real Salt Lake in the Supporters’ Shield race by just seven points with three games in hand.

Decimated by injuries and international call-ups for much of the year, Seattle also finds itself relatively healthy just in time for the regular season’s home stretch.

Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning looks set to return for Saturday’s match against the Houston Dynamo (9-7-6, 33 points) after missing four games with a wrist injury. Steve Zakuani, out since April with a sports hernia, returned to full practice for the first time this week. No other key players have serious injuries.

Here are some more stories to keep you up to speed on the Sounders:

DEMPSEY LIKELY TO START, MINUS MARTINS AND JOHNSON

Clint Dempsey looks set to make his first start for the Sounders on Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, and the location couldn’t be better.

“Texas is where it all began for me,” the Nacogdoches, Texas, native said in team-supplied quotes. “It gave me the opportunity to play club ball and to accomplish my dreams, so I owe a lot to where I’m from.”

The Sounders might be getting healthy, but a suspension and a minor injury paired with an apparent family obligation will keep Sounders fans from seeing the now-vaunted Seattle attack on full display in Houston.

Eddie Johnson will miss the match with yellow card accumulation following a controversial call in Toronto last weekend. Referee Mark Geiger carded Johnson for diving near the penalty area, but replays seemed to show a TFC defender making contact and stepping on the forward’s foot. Yellow cards are not subject to appeal.

It’s unclear whether Johnson would have been available anyway after starting a midweek match in Europe for the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Obafemi Martins is formally listed as questionable for Saturday’s match with an ankle injury he picked up against Toronto last weekend. But a tweet the Nigerian sent out Friday afternoon seemed to preclude playing anywhere in the U.S. this weekend.

“Back home to celebrate my late Dad,mum n brother…It hurts to remember how you guys left but God loves you more,” read the tweet.

ROSALES HEATING UP

After a slow start to the season and an eight-game stretch without a goal or assist, Mauro Rosales has helped fuel Seattle’s current three-game win streak. The Argentine midfielder has a goal and three assists in wins over Chivas USA, FC Dallas, and Toronto FC.

The 32-year-old Designated Player led the team with 13 assists each of the last two seasons and has only five this year with just 13 games left on the schedule. But he is finding form at the right time, has never had more talent to feed in Seattle, and looked to pair well with Dempsey last week as Seattle’s newest DP repeatedly found Rosales in space out wide.

“A good player will use his time and space, and Mauro is a good player,” Schmid said this week in team-provided quotes. “A player who’s not as talented, if you give him time and space and he’ll show you he’s not so good.”

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Think the Sounders have a legitimate shot at the Supporters’ Shield? Excited to see Dempsey’s first start, even without Johnson and Martins? Think Rosales continues his fine form into the fall?

Share your thoughts below.

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12 Responses to Sounders notes: Rave Green moving into contention; Dempsey likely to start without Johnson, Martins; and more

  1. 2tone says:

    Yes, yes I do think they have a legitimate shot at the supporters shield.

    • SD Atherly says:

      Still a bit of a stretch unless Dempsey catches fire and everyone else stays hot. The playoffs are realistic though.

      • Steevens says:

        Since when is 7 points back with three games in hand (on the current leader) a stretch at this stage of the season?

      • divers suck says:

        Yep! I guess games in hand to, virtually, everyone in MLS means nothing?

  2. krazymunky says:

    “It’s unclear whether Johnson would have been available anyway after starting a midweek match in Europe for the U.S. Men’s National Team.”

    Klinsmann probably took him because he was suspended anyways.

    • Zztoppppp says:

      Exactly. He knew EJ wouldn’t play anyway so why not give him some international pt against great competition. I think Evans was only called in because there really wasn’t any other options at right back other than Cameron who klinsmann clearly wants playing in the middle. Yea parkhurst had a solid gold cup but he can’t be trusted against that talent level like Evans can.

      • Harrison says:

        EJ and Evans both were leaked selectees from Friday. Klinsmann had no idea that Johnson was going to be suspended. He chose him without knowing.

  3. divers suck says:

    I wonder if Brad Evans is going to play? He played longer than EJ…..Also a great opportunity for a Lamar Naegle pair up with Dempsey.

  4. SD Atherly says:

    Conspiracy theorists think EJ planned on getting suspended during the Toronto game anyway but not like he did. Something later in the game, like malingering. I think Evans is on the bench and comes in only if things are going south for the Sounders.

    • divers suck says:

      Well, I guess the referee eliminated ALL doubt by erroneously giving him a Yellow Card, no?

  5. LB says:

    I think they have the talent to be a contender for the Supporter’s Shield, but between injuries and national team callups, the talent is missing too often to really expect a strong run. I’d be willing to bet the Sounders have lost more games to national team callups than any other, hands down. Besides Johnson and Evans, who have been gone half the summer, Yedlin was gone with the U20’s, Martins with the Nigerian team, and Mario Martinez with Honduras. Two more WC qualifers are approaching in September, and Duece, Johnson, and Evans are likely to be called up for those.

  6. Michael says:

    According to the Seattle Time blog, Sigi Schmidt said that Martins left after receiving treatment earlier this week and will return to train with the club on Tuesday.