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Travel, fatigue no excuse if Sounders have playoff hopes

Head coach Brian Schmetzer stressed that the players have to find ways to stay mentally and physically fresh for final eight regular-season matches.

Sounders vs. Earthquakes: Photos Photo Credit - MikeRussellFoto

Even though their international stars have yet to return to training ahead of the trip to San Jose on Saturday, the Seattle Sounders are feeling fresh and ready to flip the historical script against an opponent that has given them some trouble. In their MLS history together, the Sounders are 7-10-3 against San Jose, including the 2-0 win earlier this season.

The last time they beat San Jose on the road during the regular season was way back in 2010 and the Sounders have only won two road games against the Earthquakes across all competitions during the MLS era.

Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer admits that San Jose is a “very good team,” but also notes that it hasn’t always been that way. “Starting way back when, they might call us their bogey team,” he said, recalling the Sounders’ somewhat infamous win at Kezar Stadium in the 2012 U.S. Open Cup.

But as for Saturday, Schmetzer said that because both teams are desperate for points, he expects a good match. The extra rest seems to have been beneficial for the players not on international duty; Schmetzer said that “the guys are sharp” and that he hopes it helps them integrate the players that will be coming back from international duty.

Midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz echoed the benefits of the break too; he said the Labor Day Weekend break was good for him, but that the extended week of training helped even more. “It was a great opportunity to do something extra and get some fitness work in.”

Now a veteran of MLS after arriving in Seattle over a year ago, Ivanschitz said he’s getting used to the travel grind that happens when playing here. “It is definitely a very long season, and with the traveling on top, it’s a tough season. You have to adjust.” He referred to this weekend’s match as one of eight “finals” left for the Sounders, and that the short trip to San Jose is an ideal way to start their push to the playoffs.

Schmetzer doesn’t yet know how things will play out for his side in San Jose, but he was keen to put aside any excuses. He echoed Ivanschitz’s notion that travel could make things hard, but that the team can and has to push past it.

“We’re in a bind, so it is of the utmost importance for the guys to put aside the fact that it’s a long season, to put aside the excuses that there’s a lot of travel to stay fresh physically and mentally so that we can win a few more games and get into the playoffs.”

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