MLS Countdown: Sounders play home leg of NYC 'series'

Having been blanked by the Red Bulls on the road, the Sounders return home this weekend to play the other New York team needing goals and points to get back into the playoff chase.

Seattle and New York City FC kick off the second weekend of play following a Centenario break Saturday afternoon on national TV (5 pm., ESPN), and of the two teams, the Sounders’ situation is the more desperate.

A 2-0 loss at Red Bull Arena dropped the Sounders record to 5-8-1. They are ninth -- five points out of the playoff tier--  with four losses in their last five games, three of them by shutout. Their 13 goals scored is the fewest in MLS. Rookie Jordan Morris leads the team with five but nobody else has more than two, including Clint Dempsey, who is with the U.S. national team in Houston.

NYCFC is third in the East after beating conference leader Philadelphia, 3-2, last weekend and under .500 at 5-5-6. David Villa scored his league-leading 11th goal of the season last week and fellow DPs Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard netted as well.

Getting NYCFC at CenturyLink Field would seem an ideal opportunity to reignite a sputtering attack. It has conceded the most goals in the league, 31, and starting keeper Josh Saunders has posted only two shutouts.

Yet captain Brad Evansknows that finishing chances is usually about the shooter, and against the Red Bulls Seattle landed just three of 16 shots on frame.

“We’ve got to be clinical in front of goal,” said Evans to the team’s Web site. “The guys are out here working on finishing. Once that clicks and the ball starts finding the back of the net, we hope to get on a roll and start climbing the latter a bit.”

The Sounders also need to be a more than a bit better at home in terms of results. They’ve conceded only five goals but a meager seven goals scored is one reason they are 4-3-0 at CLink.

“We’ve got to make home our fortress,” said head coach Sigi Schmid. “We can’t let anybody take anything away from us at home anymore.”

HOME ON THE RANGE. Yes, FC Dallas needs to be better on the road and fate can take some blame for a 2-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.

An SKC back pass clearly rolled well past the goal line before keeper Tim Melia hacked it back into the field of play, but somehow the officials missed it. An offside decision annulled an apparent score by Fabian Castillo, and two other shots came back off the woodwork. At the other end, two late first-half goals – one on a free kick, the other a penalty kick – provided SKC a lead it held to the end.

So the road record of 3-5-1 is certainly a concern, but not in the short-term. FCD plays the next three at home, where it is unbeaten (5-0-3), as are many Western Conference teams. The first test is Saturday against Real Salt Lake, which should be tad tired from a 2-1 victory over the Red Bulls on Wednesday.

At SKC FCD head coach Oscar Pareja brought on midfielders Carlos Gruezo and Mauro Diaz as subs. They injected some energy into the team and could be moved into the starting lineup as FCD starts a home run of games. After RSL, it faces Western Conference leader Colorado and Eastern foe Orlando City.

DOMINANCE ON DISPLAY. Speaking of OCSC, the team has been reasonably successful on the field and a tremendous hit off of it.

Midfielder Kaka’s popularity rose a few more notches last week when he joined athletes from other Orlando sports teams to visit survivors of a mass shooting at The Pulse nightclub that killed 49 people. The focus returns to the field Saturday against Toronto FC, which owned OCSC to the extreme in 2015.

TFC won all three meetings, including a 2=0 victory in Orlando. Those nine points helped usher TFC to its first MLS playoff appearance following a eight-year wait, and the aggregate score was 11-1.

OCSC has tied its last three games and last week against San Jose conceded a goal in the 94th minute after netting an apparent winner in the 91st. Kaka sat out with the thigh injury he suffered training with Brazil for the Centenario, and his status for the Toronto game isn’t known.

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