With a 3-0 record heading into Saturday's home game with the Kansas City Wizards, the first-year Seattle team has a big bull's-eye on its back.
Those jerseys are rave green, but there’s a bright red bull’s-eye on them now.
That’s what happens to an expansion team that starts 3-0, with no goals allowed. It’s what Sounders FC faces as the team gets set to host the Kansas City Wizards tonight at 7:30.
Seattle is off to the best start by a Major League Soccer expansion team. It has scored seven goals and has won even without forward Fredy Montero and midfielder Freddie Ljungberg — arguably its two best field players — for one game each. Sounders FC has also won in perhaps the wildest atmosphere in the league, at Toronto FC.
The Wizards (1-2), who lost their first two games before defeating San Jose 2-0 last Sunday, hope to knock Sounders FC off its lofty perch.
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“It would be really important for us to go 4-0,” said Seattle defender Tyson Wahl, who was with the Wizards last season. “We have some tough away games coming up in the next couple of weeks with Chivas [USA] and Chicago. There’s a huge target on our backs right now, especially with no goals against.”
Sounders FC won without Ljungberg in Week 1. It won without Montero in Week 3. Both are expected to play tonight, and will likely start.
With both Ljungberg and Montero in the lineup, another player must leave the first 11. That could be one of three players: Steve Zakuani, an outside midfielder who scored last week in his first MLS start; Brad Evans, who plays the same center midfield position as Ljungberg; or defender James Riley, which would move one of the midfielders to the back line.
“For me it’s just a case of playing and playing, and hoping you’re on the team,” Zakuani said. “And if you’re not, then you still have to stay prepared.”
Coach Sigi Schmid isn’t giving the Wizards any clues about his lineup.
“We have an idea of how we’re going to play,” Schmid said. “Obviously if you put both Freddies on the field, it changes how some other guys have to play. It changes everybody’s role a little bit. It’s just a matter of how all that mixes together.
“As long as everybody knows what their roles are and what their responsibilities are, and I think everybody is pretty clear about that,” Schmid added.
Ljungberg and Zakuani believe Sounders FC has earned leaguewide respect.
“The first two games were at home, and a lot of people were saying, ‘They’re playing with their fans and they’re winning at home,’ ” Zakuani said. “When we won away at Toronto … it kind of made people realize it’s not a fluke.
“This team’s for real. When you see three shutouts, three wins, you can’t get any more perfect than that.”
• Every remaining Sounders FC game will be aired on KIRO radio (97.3 FM). Last week’s game was not heard because the team decided to let both the national Fox Soccer Channel and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) coverage stand alone.
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org