BARCELONA – The Seattle Sounders have already clinched a playoff berth and have a huge match upcoming.
They can be forgiven if they are looking past Saturday night's trip to face the New England Revolution
Seattle (15-6-9) owns MLS's second-best record with 54 points - seven fewer than Los Angeles. It is unlikely that the Sounders will catch the Galaxy for the Supporters' Shield, and they lead Real Salt Lake by three points.
This matchup is sandwiched between two important games for Seattle. The Sounders traveled to Guatemala and got an 89th-minute equalizer from Osvaldo Alonso for a 2-all draw Tuesday with Comunicaciones to advance in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Next Tuesday, the Sounders host Chicago in the U.S. Open Cup final as they try to win that trophy for the third straight year. It's given coach Sigi Schmid plenty of decisions as to how to approach this contest with New England (5-13-12).
"We have a plan in terms of looking at a group of games, as well," Schmid said. "Then we sort of evaluate which players are recovered well, which players are ready to go, who needs some minutes, who doesn't need some minutes."
The travel from Guatemala to Seattle to New England and back home is another factor in terms of forming his lineup for each match.
"It's not going to be the same team that played against Comunicaciones, but it's not going to be a team of trying to rest everybody either," Schmid said. "It's going to be an individual decision as to each player as to where we feel they're at."
Fredy Montero scored twice in last Saturday's 3-1 win at Vancouver and played the entire match in Guatemala, so he could be a candidate to rest for the Sounders.
New England has won its previous two home games with Seattle and will be out to avenge a 2-1 road loss June 26.
The last-place Revolution have fallen behind within 10 minutes in consecutive road losses, but are relishing the chance to start quickly Saturday and take advantage of Seattle's grueling travel schedule.
"We know they're going to be tired from traveling and playing so many games, so we have to push the pedal to the metal from the start," captain Shalrie Joseph told the Revolution's official website. "Try to play an uptempo game, try to play fast, keep the game flowing and just don't let them breathe. It's important that we get all over them early and if we can get that goal, it's going to be huge for us."
A fast start in the first matchup wasn't enough as Seattle rallied from a goal down in the third minute behind goals from Tyson Wahl and Alvaro Fernandez.
Ryan Guy scored his first two career goals for the Revolution in last Sunday's 3-2 loss at Chicago. Guy made his second MLS start and first since the match at Seattle.
New England has a victory and two draws in its last three home games, as it begins a three-match stretch at Gillette Stadium.