Back when June started, we noted the Gold Cup that drew down some rosters and helped the Seattle Sounders to a 4th place standing by points per match, 2nd by raw points. While July also has some Copa America action, the roster lightening isn't as significant. What is meaningful is that July will have the opportunity for runs in several trophies to be made. The Sounders U-16s will even be able to win a trophy this month, as they will be in the USSDA National Final next week.
The match against the Los Angeles Galaxy is a key one if the Sounders are going to make a run for the Supporters Shield. Bruce Arena's squad currently sits in 1st by both points and ppm, and would even after a loss to Seattle, but to take the top spot and even get that opportunity Seattle needs that win. With the Galaxy down to their third keeper there is an opportunity here for Schmid's men.
After that the schedule gets easier within League play. It gets more complicated though because Seattle will also have the friendly with Manchester United, the US Open Cup Quarterfinals and the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Preliminary Round against San Fransisco FC of Panama.
While most of the month is on the road, only the LA Galaxy are a team that will be favored. Even the Portland Timbers in the Glass House are expected by Sagarin to not win. Their below average offense, awful defense and poor run of form lately indicate an opportunity for Seattle to get a point or three. It is of course also Round 3 of the Cascadia Cup where Seattle has only 2 points in 2 played.
Then it gets easier. The home game against the Colorado Rapids features a team that is only slightly below average on most measures, but with a possible Brian Mullan sighting could have the crowd in an absolute frenzy. This is also the first possible match for international additions to take the pitch for their new MLS sides, so could be a bit difficult to predict, but they'd also be quite new to their teams and so should have a lesser impact.
By the team Seattle heads to Houston to face the Dynamo both teams should have a new player or two. The Houston Dynamo have a shaky DP history, but will probably add a significant player or two as they try to build momentum to their new home palace of soccer. Sagarin predicts that this will be the second toughest of the matches for the Sounders in League play for the month.
This is a month when Seattle should take steps along their Open Cup path, the playoff qualification route, qualification for the Champions League and possibly even the Supporters Shield. But, a survey of the authors here indicate the last is the least likely with monthly point totals between 5 and 8 chosen (myself a 7) for a 6.8 average among respondents. Seven points in these four would be a solid target, with 8 or more actually setting the Rave Green up for a very special final third of the season.