Seattle hosts D.C., inching toward playoffs

Seattle Sounders FC will hope to secure a spot in the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs when it hosts D.C. United at CenturyLink Field on Saturday.

The Sounders can clinch a playoff berth with a win over United, but results in Portland and Houston must also go their way. The Portland Timbers must lose to the New England Revolution and the Houston Dynamo must lose or tie against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Even as a place in the postseason is within reach, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid knows how things can instantly change in Major League Soccer.

"Everybody is still catchable," Schmid said. "This league is always a streaky league. ...We've just got to get back after it and take care of business the way we want to."

Seattle saw its four-game unbeaten streak in regular season play come to an end in its last outing, losing 2-1 at home to Real Salt Lake. It was Seattle's first loss at CenturyLink Field since May 25. With the loss, the Sounders remain in second place in the Western Conference with 48 points.

D.C. United, meanwhile, is still in the playoff picture, sitting in fifth place in the East with 34 points on the year. Ahead of Portland's Friday night tilt against New England, D.C. occupies the final wild card spot.

In its last match, D.C. United cruised to a 3-0 victory over Chivas USA behind a Charlie Davies hat trick, earning the striker Player of the Week honors.

It was United's first match since August 21, as the club was sidelined because of Hurricane Irene, followed by a FIFA international fixture weekend. Davies took full advantage of the break.

"[The week] after the break did a lot for me," Davies said. "I was able to really clear my mind, get fit, and this whole week I've worked really hard. I finally felt 100 percent mentally and 100 percent physically, and I hadn't felt like that in a long time."

Chris Pontius set up all three goals for Davies, but could miss the remainder of the season after sustaining a leg fracture following the third goal for United.

"The chemistry we had in that one game together, it was like we had been playing together for years," Davies told The Washington Post. "It's sad to see because the lineup we had out there was so dynamic and we were playing at our very best. Now we're losing a tremendous player for us all year."

D.C. United holds the edge over Seattle this season, as Davies and Josh Wolff provided goals en route to a 2-1 victory over the Sounders on May 4. Brad Evans converted a penalty kick to pull back a consolation goal for Seattle.