Now Arriving; Your Seattle Sounders
Ladies, Gentlemen, Rave Green Faithful everywhere… The Boys Are Back In Town.
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? 3 weeks since our beloved Seattle Sounders graced Century Link Field. Although, it’s been a pretty impressive 3 weeks! Managing two come-from-behind victories over tough opponents and forcing a late draw have the Sounders in second place in the West with 13 points. Now, the Rave Green returns for the first of a three match home stretch as they prepare to take on a very youthful looking Colorado Rapids team who are unbeaten on the road in 2014. However, Seattle holds an 8-2-2 advantage in the all-time series against Colorado, marking the club record for most wins over a single opponent.
It’s safe to say that neither of these two teams are the same ones that last met in the knockout round of the 2013 MLS Playoffs. The Sounders were coming off of an abysmal stretch that saw the team go from the top of the league with the highest points per match to barely scraping into the playoffs. The Rapids, on the other hand, were coming off of a bounce back season and a rebuild who were arguably punching above their weight. The pinnacle of these two events occurred three weeks before their eventual playoff match on Oct 6th when the Rapids secured their biggest home win in the Club’s history in a 5-1 drubbing of the Sounders. The Sounders would avenge this loss the day before Halloween with a 2-0 victory and move on to face rival Portland in the Playoffs.
Fast forward to this Saturday and boy, do we have a show for you! The Sounders have become one of the most potent offensive sides in the league on the backs of USMNT superstar Clint Dempsey (6 G, 2 A, 23 shots in 5 games) and strike team partner Obafemi Martins (2 G, 4 A, 13 shots in 7 games). Excellent midfield play by longtime fan favorite Osvaldo Alonso and local boy Lamar Neagle have continued to keep the Sounders effective late in matches, as has newcomer Gonzalo Pineda (who has been standing in for the injured Brad Evans).
Leading the league with four penalty kick goals (all scored by Uruguayan midfielder Vicente Sanchez) and being held scoreless for the first time this season last Saturday against the San Jose, An exceptional youth core within the Rapids have the “Rocky Mountain Express” performing above expectations. However, Colorado has taken the second-fewest shots (71) in MLS, including three or fewer shots on goal in three matches. The team’s 0.83 goals against average is 3rd best in the league, allowing just five goals (three in one game) with three shutouts. An attack that features the veteran presence of Edson Buddle up top alongside second-year Jamaican standout forward Deshorn Brown have only netted a goal apiece so far in the campaign while the 2013 Rookie of the Year, Dillon Powers, has managed only an assist after starting all 6 matches.
“Whether he’s [Brad Evans] playing in the middle or on the right, I know he knows me very well and knows my tendencies.He’s a guy who will cover for me and also help me out when I’m attacking, help me out when I’m defending. Brad’s going to be great to get back.”
What will the keys to success be? For starters, the Sounders can not afford to allow a PK with Sanchez being absolutely cerebral. The defense will need to be focused and remain disciplined if they are to stymie the Colorado attack. With Leo Gonzalez possibly out for the match, youngster Dylan Remick will likely get the start at left back for the first time since March 29th (Dylan started the first four matches while Leo recovered from an off season surgery). In last week’s match against Chivas USA, DeAndre Yedlin had one of his more impressive defensive outings of the year and appeared to be working quite well under the direction of “The Sheriff” Brad Evans. Following cues from the Sounders veteran (Evans was essentially coordinating both of them) it made Yedlin a far more reliable defender. The “Dynamic Duo” of Dempsey & Martins will need to be able to read each other well as the Rapids defense has not allowed a goal in 203 minutes while Colorado’s Clint Irwin has returned to action following injury and appears to be back at top form.
Not an easy task to return home to, but one that the Sounders will be up to face. A midfield capable of holding the Rapids attack, a disciplined Seattle back four, and an on target strike team up front will have Colorado wondering “What just happened?” all the way back across the Rocky Mountains. This will be the Sounders first step in making CenturyLink Field a Rave Green Fortress once again. This Saturday… The boys are back.
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