After an extended break, the Seattle Sounders are set for a difficult stretch with few days off.
They haven't had much trouble with their next opponent, though.
Visiting Seattle looks to remain unbeaten against the Chicago Fire when the teams square off Saturday night.
The Sounders (3-1-1) haven't played since April 14, when Zach Scott scored in a 1-0 win over Colorado. They've enjoyed nearly two weeks off, but they'll now play five games in the next 15 days, including a date with reigning league champion Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Defender Jeff Parke said the team needs to pull together for the busy stretch.
"It's a lot of games in a short period of time, but it's about being a professional and getting through these next five games because they're going to come quick," Parke said. "Everybody's going to need to be prepared, go into one game, and when that game's over go onto the next game."
Coach Sigi Schmid didn't discount fatigue eventually playing a role, though he said his players would rather be playing competitive matches.
"We've got to try and get as many of those points as we possibly can," Schmid said. "Players would rather play games than practice. Even though it's a load, this is fun because we're playing games."
If history holds, Seattle should be in good shape to get the stretch off to a solid start.
The Sounders, who will be playing the 100th regular-season game in franchise history, have never lost to the Fire in seven all-time meetings, including a 2-0 victory in the U.S. Open Cup final Oct. 4.
The clubs played to a scoreless draw at Toyota Park in the last MLS matchup June 4, ending Seattle's three-game winning streak in the series. They also had a pair of draws in the Sounders' inaugural season in 2009.
Chicago midfielder Logan Pause said the Fire shouldn't focus on Seattle as much as their own execution.
"We know coming in this weekend they're a really good team, but we're looking at our gameplan and we need to execute that," Pause said.
Chicago (2-1-2) is coming off a 3-2 road win over Toronto last Saturday, when it took the lead 26 seconds into the match.
Patrick Nyarko assisted on Dominic Oduro's goal in the first minute, then got an assist from Oduro on the game-winning goal in the 58th minute. Nyarko is well aware that Chicago has yet to beat the Sounders since they entered the league.
"We're going to have our fans behind us and we need to dictate the pace of the game," Nyarko said. "I've never gotten all three points from Seattle since I've been in the league, and I put that in the back of my mind. I hope all the guys are in with me that I have not beat them and I want to beat them, so we need to come out and try to dominate the game."
Chicago is 6-1-1 in its last eight MLS home matches, while Seattle is 5-1-1 in its last seven on the road. The Sounders tied D.C. United 0-0 in their 2012 road opener April 7.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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