Sounders understand upcoming five-game home stand is ‘critical’

TUKWILA – Starting with Sunday’s first-ever game against Charlotte FC, the Seattle Sounders will play five consecutive home games. If that seems like an abnormally long homestand, that’s because it is. Prior to this year the Sounders had never played as many as four straight MLS games at home and had only once even played 5 of 6 games at home, way back in 2009.

Perhaps more relevant than the uniqueness of this homestand is its importance. The Sounders are off to a somewhat slow start in MLS play, with 13 points through 11 matches. Part of that slow start is due to having played just four matches at home in league play. This homestand is an opportunity to move up the standings.

“It’s very important for many reasons,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “It’s five games and points are there for the taking. It’s also the confidence and the message we can send to other teams that it’s not going to be a fun time [playing at Lumen Field].

“You have the crowd, have the familiarity, train on your field, eat at home, sleep in your bed. We need to make sure we take advantage.”

Although the Sounders have gone just 2-2-0 at home in MLS play this year, they also went 4-0-0 with +13 goal-difference at Lumen Field in Concacaf Champions League play. That, of course, included a 3-0 win the final. In the eight total matches, the Sounders have scored 20 goals, including at least three in six of them.

If the Sounders can translate their home CCL form into regular-season play and maintain their 2.25 points per game, they’d finish with more regular-season points than in any previous MLS campaign.

“Our home form in CCL was great,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said. “I’m hopeful we’ll see a little more of that from our team.”

The Sounders’ first chance to build on that form is against Charlotte FC, who finds themselves in playoff position, but almost entirely due to their home form. On the road, Charlotte FC have gone just 0-5-1 with a -8 goal difference in MLS play and are coming off a midweek loss to the New York Red Bulls in the US Open Cup, a game where they used what was effectively a first-choice lineup.

While the Sounders should be big favorites against Charlotte FC, the other games on this homestand should be tougher. The Sounders will have nearly three weeks off before their next match on June 14 against the Vancouver Whitecaps and then play LAFC (June 18), Sporting KC (June 25) and CF Montreal (June 29) in relatively quick succession.

“We have to start the homestead off the right way,” Schmetzer said. “I would say it’s critical for us to collect some points.”

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