Schmid hopeful of having the band back together for Seattle’s tussle with FC Dallas

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Three losses in a row have cast some doubt on the Sounders’ playoff fate. In all likelihood, Seattle’s going to be playing past game 34, but with San Jose surging while Sigi Schmid’s team struggles, being number six two weeks from now isn’t out of the question. And even if Seattle gets through, there’s no guarantee they’ll avoid the four-five game, mostly like against the same Colorado Rapids team who throttled them 10 days ago.

Now the good news. According to the beat guys at Starfire Sports Complex today, many question marks for Saturday’s game in Dallas could see positive answers:

[tweet https://twitter.com/donruiztnt/status/390555662796988416] [tweet https://twitter.com/joshuamayers/status/390555546006220800]

More on those lists:

  • Clint Dempsey suffered a separated shoulder in the first half Sunday against Portland but managed to play another 57 minutes. The hamstring problem that kept him out of the U.S. national team? If it’s still a concern, it’s a secondary one.
  • Eddie Johnson injured his groin while with the U.S. national team, forcing him to pull out of the team’s qualifiers. He’s arguably been Seattle’s most important player this season. Having him on the end of set pieces and long balls gives the Sounders a straight-forward way to break out of this slump.
  • Brad Evans, also called up by Jurgen Klinsmann, stayed with the team, played in Panama, but could be ready in Frisco. His presence has been missed over the last two games.
  • Obafemi Martins has been dealing with a groin problem and didn’t feature in Portland. Per the sources above, he seems less likely to play than his strike partner.
  • Steve Zakuani, coming back from sports hernia surgery, played in Portland and nearly found a late equalizer, but having suffered a setback, the winger seems unlikely to feature in Dallas.

Other question marks/issues for Seattle:

  • Marcus Hahnemann played well in goal at JELD-WEN, but as Schmid noted after the match, he didn’t have much to do. If Michael Gspurning is on the bench against Dallas, might as well consider Hahnemann the new number one.
  • Jhon Kennedy Hurtado has had three different partners in central defense during Seattle’s losing streak: Zach Scott (at Colorado), Djimi Traoré (vs. Vancouver), Pat Ianni (at Portland). As is the case in goal, Schmid’s selection in central defense for Dallas should give us a good idea of how he sees his depth chart.
  • Osvaldo Alonso is out, suspended for at least Saturday’s game. Given the absence you’d think if Brad Evans can walk, he’ll start next to Adam Moffat in the middle. Schmid favorite Andy Rose would be Plan B.
  • Without Johnson and Martins but with Dempsey back, Seattle emulated a 4-2-3-1 in Portland, with Dempsey playing behind Lamar Neagle. If all of Johnson, Martins, Dempsey and Neagle are available, it will be interesting to see how Seattle set up. That foursome have rarely been able to get in the team at the same time. It’s unclear Schmid has decided on how to use them together (or if it’s worth sacrificing Mauro Rosales to do so).

Australian women beat US 1-0 in Tournament of Nations

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SEATTLE (AP) Tameka Butt scored in the 67th minute and Australia beat the United States for the first time in the 28-game series, 1-0 in the Tournament of Nations on Thursday night.

The Matildas also snapped the Americans’ four-game winning streak.

Just moments after Butt’s goal got past goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, Carli Lloyd blasted a cross from Megan Rapinoe at Australia goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who made a fantastic save. Lloyd had another chance that sailed just over the net.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Japan and Brazil played to a 1-1 draw in the tournament’s opening game in the afternoon at CenturyLink Field.

Each of the four teams in the tournament is in the top 10 of the FIFA rankings. The top-ranked United States went into the game with a 25-0-2 record over the seventh-ranked Matildas.

Rapinoe, who plays for the NWSL’s Seattle Reign, had a good chance early on in the game but the Americans were unable to break through. Rapinoe has 12 goals to lead the NWSL in scoring this season.

The Matildas have been on the rise of the past several years, with quarterfinal appearances in both the 2015 World Cup and the Olympics last year.

Following the stop in Seattle, the tournament shifts to San Diego on Sunday before wrapping up in Carson, California, on Aug. 3.

U.S. Soccer is looking to host a Tournament of Nations each summer that there isn’t World Cup or Olympic competition.

WATCH: Camila’s wicked swerving goal for Brazil

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The Tournament of Nations got underway earlier Thursday, with Brazil and Japan drawing 1-1 in Seattle.

While some in the crowd may’ve been waiting to see the United States women’s national team and Australia in the second game of the twin bill, they got an absolute treat from Brazil’s Camila.

[ MORE: Galaxy’s season-changing signing ]

The Orlando Pride midfielder is yet to scoop up 10 caps, but blasted this 25-yard goal home with a wicked outside bend.

The aesthetics are terrific.

LA Galaxy’s second Dos Santos signing is a season-changer

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Remember this day, MLS fans, as one that perhaps helped determine an MLS Cup Finalist.

The LA Galaxy have signed Villarreal midfielder and Mexican national teamer Jonathan Dos Santos, and he’s the sort of player who could alter the landscape of the Western Conference.

Like Nicolas Lodeiro to Seattle last season and New England’s addition of Jermaine Jones in 2014, Dos Santos’ move comes with the distinct possibility of elevating LA into the next stratosphere.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

Take the Galaxy’s history of winning, and toss in a midseason coaching improvement from Curt Onalfo to Sigi Schmid, as well as MVP-in-their-own-right caliber teammates Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jelle van Damme.

Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.

Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).

Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).

Joey Barton’s gambling ban lowered by almost 5 months

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Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for betting on almost 1,300 soccer-related events has been lowered to 13 months and one week.

Putting aside the hilarity of grown men and women discussing whether an extra week was necessary, the alteration means he’ll be eligible to return to football on June 1, 2018.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.

Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:

The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.

“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”

Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.

We may see him on the field in August 2018.