TUKWILA — Quick turnarounds and midweek games are often viewed as burdens over the long grind of an MLS season. For the Sounders, though, there are a few reasons today’s 7 p.m. game against FC Dallas, which caps a three-game homestand, isn’t so bad.
First off, first-place Seattle is playing the best soccer in MLS at the moment, boasting four straight wins, a five-game unbeaten streak and the league’s most lethal attack. Constant action is a good way to stay in rhythm.
Secondly, the game allows the Sounders more time with their U.S. national team stars. Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans and perhaps DeAndre Yedlin are set to depart for a pre-World Cup training camp starting May 14.
Lastly, the turnaround isn’t nearly as bad as what Dallas is facing, having played Sunday afternoon in the scorching Texas heat while down a player for 80 minutes. Seattle, on the other hand, played a day earlier and doesn’t have to travel 1,600 miles and two time zones.
“It was a tough draw for them,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said.
And if playing the hottest team in the league on short rest wasn’t enough, Dallas is also dealing with a potentially serious knee injury to standout midfielder Mauro Diaz and the one-game suspension of another of its co-leading scorers, midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson, due to a red card Sunday.
Consider it a prime opportunity for the Sounders to edge further from the pack in the Western Conference before international call-ups hit hard.
“It’s a big game,” said defender Djimi Traore. “We know Dallas, and when we played there (April 12), it was tough for us. We won 3-2, but it was a tough game. It’s a little bit of revenge for them, and for us, we want to stay at the top of the table.”
Seattle has a concerning issue of its own as the team’s top two left backs are on the mend. Dylan Remick, filling in for injured starter Leo Gonzalez, sprained his left ankle in Saturday’s win over Philadelphia.
Gonzalez, for his part, is finalizing his recovery from a strained right hamstring, which has kept him out the past two games. Schmid said Gonzalez will be ready for Sunday’s game at New England, but his role against Dallas remains in question.
Other potential options at left back would be veteran Zach Scott, who made his season debut as a defensive sub against the Union, marking his 13th year in a row having played for the Sounders, dating to the lower leagues. Newcomer Michael Azira, who has primarily been a midfielder, is another possibility, as is Evans, who assumed the role Saturday after Remick’s injury.
A greater worry is defense as a whole. Seattle has conceded 1.44 goals per game, ranking 13th out of 19 MLS teams, and hasn’t kept a shutout since Week 3 against lowly Montreal.
A highflying offense has covered that blemish so far.
Said Schmid: “Playing well defensively is something ... you need as a championship team because there are going to be days when it goes dry for you up top, and you want to make sure you’re in the game. The longer we are in a game, the offense is going to come through.”
NOTES: Reign FC’s road game Saturday at rival Portland has been moved to 4 p.m. to avoid conflict with the Trail Blazers’ NBA playoff game. Seattle forward Sydney Leroux has been named NWSL Player of the Week following her game winner Saturday at Washington. ... Sounders forward Obafemi Martins was not named to Nigeria’s provisional 30-man World Cup roster. The squad will be cut down to 23 before the tournament starts.