Fire v Sounders Match Preview

The Sounders are winless after four matches this season at 0-2-2 and they've struggled to score for periods early on.  After being blanked in their first two games against Los Angeles and New York and scoring a late goal to earn a 1-1 draw against Houston in their last home game, Seattle managed to score twice last weekend in another tie at San Jose.  Without Fredy Montero, who is still recovering from a wrist fracture and is not expected to play for a second consecutive weekend, Sigi Schmid turned to 30 year old Argentine forward/winger Mauro Rosales last week in the withdrawn role up top.  Rosales played well, particularly in the first half against San Jose assisting on Seattle's first score.  He should be joined on the front line by O'Brian White although former Fire Nate Jaqua is now healthy and battling White for time at the center forward spot.  White scored Seattle's second goal last weekend after struggling through much of the first three matches. 

In midfield, Steve Zakuani is Seatlle's most dangerous weapon without Montero on the pitch.  Attacking from the left side he will be matched up with Jalil Anibaba in another test for the Fire rookie.  Erik Friberg has started every game and will play on the opposite side while Uruguayan DP Alvaro Fernandez continues to come of the bench. Centrally Seattle, like most MLS teams lacks a true two-way playmaker but the pairing of Osvaldo Alonso and Brad Evans is solid.  Alonso in particular can be dangerous given freedom. 

 

Defensively Schmid has opted for Patrick Ianni and Jeff Parke in the middle keeping Jhon Kennedy Hurtado on the bench for the last two matches.  James Riley and Leo Gonzalez complete the back line on the right and left respectively in front of Kasey Keller.  Seattle has allowed five goals in their first four games and three have come from long distance shots.  Seattle has had a tendency to allow too much cushion for attackers which consequently has led to the long range goals.  If this trend continues look for Marco Pappa to try to exploit it. 

 

I would expect Carlos De Los Cobos to stick with a 4-4-2 in lieu of Zakuani's dangerous speed and the absence of central defender Josip Mikulic.  After injuring a quad in training before the US Open Cup game last Wednesday Mikulic did not make the trip to Seattle.  His steady play has been an important piece of the Fire's start and he will be missed.  De Los Cobos mentioned either Yamith Cuesta or Dasan Robinson as possible replacements in the middle.  Cory Gibbs will also be a game time decision according to De Los Cobos.  Gonzalo Segares and Anibaba are locked in on the outside. 

 

Bratislav Ristic returned to training after missing the home opener and played in the Fire's reserve match last Saturday morning.  Expect Patrick Nyarko to get the start along with Marco Pappa, Logan Pause, and Mike Videira in midfield since Ristic trained with the second team for most of the week.  Diego Chaves and Gaston Puerari should find some room against a fairly average Seattle defense.

 

Injury Report

 

Chicago

OUT : Mike Banner D (L achilles tendinitis), Steven Kinney D (R achilles repair); DOUBTFUL : Gabriel Ferrari F (R hip flexor strain); PROBABLE : Josip Mikulic D (L quadriceps strain), Cory Gibbs D (R groin soreness)

 

Seattle

 

DOUBTFUL : Mike Fucito F (L ankle sprain), Josh Ford G (illness); QUESTIONABLE : Fredy Montero F (R wrsit fracture); PROBABLE : Pat Noonan M (L abductor strain), Taylor Graham D (L hand fracture)

 

Referee

Hilario Grajeda

 

Prediction

 

Visiting players may find Seattle an enjoyable place to play because of the atmosphere rather than a difficult place to play because of the crowd intimidation.  The Sounders are 0-1-1 this year at home and will be missing their top offensive weapon.  The Fire on the other hand may be missing both first choice central defenders.  This match should be an entertaining affair especially if Puerari finds the fake turf to his liking and is able to utilize his quickness against the Seattle back line. 

 

Fire 1 Sounders 1

 

The Rest of the League

 

Colorado 2 FC Dallas 1 - The Hoops are in desperate need of a win at home but Colorado is in excellent form early on.  I suspect Dallas isn't anywhere near the team they were last year. 

 

New York 2 Philadelphia 1 - MLS' main office is aching to get the Red Bulls involved in a meaningful rivalry with somebody and they're pushing this match in hopes of fueling the competition between fans.  If you get a chance listen to this week's Extra Time Radio podcast.  There's an excellent line about Dungeons and Dragons from a New York supporter while verbally dueling with a Philadelphia counterpart. 

 

Los Angeles 1 DC United 0 - United is at home and they'll have a large crowd behind them.  Let's see what they've got against LA.  Charlie Davies is expected back after missing last week with a groin injury.  

 

Real Salt Lake 1 New England 1 - Typically I'd go with RSL in this one but they're coming off a CCL road trip to Costa Rica on Tuesday night.  Steve Nicol continues to do it with mirrors although they also played in Vancouver on Wednesday night.    

 

San Jose 2 Toronto  1 - San Jose seems to be finding a scoring touch and Toronto is just plain bad. 

 

Chivas USA 1 Columbus 0 - I don't believe either side will be in playoff contention when the season comes to a close. 

 

Houston 2 Vancouver 1 - Houston will be missing Brian Ching again while the WhiteCaps will be missing DP Eric Hassli again.....albeit for totally different reasons.  Ching has found his way onto the injured list again and Hassli is just.....well see previous post.   

 

Comments

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  • FCD just destroyed colorado in the 1st half. then scored early in 2nd half to go up 3-0 (score coulda been a few more) i gotta admit i didnt see that happening the way dallas & colorado had been playing respectively

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    Dallas had to win at home last night but I'm surprised by the 3-o beat down.

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    how about sliding Anibaba into the middle for Josip and Ristic at right back. Might give us a little more going forward and help pin back their wingers.

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    http://sports.break.com/penalty-kick-back-flip

    Amazing!!!!

  • That is one packed post. Nicely done. Sounders, with their clever coach, have not seen this edition of the Fire, I think man to man we measure up well, but they are at home and they should be motivated to stop their season from slipping away, early as it is. I want to see a win, if our awesome forwards score, great - but I really want Marco Pappa to put the ball in the net, and I won't be surprised if Parrick Nyarko gets a score today.

  • Cory Gibbs is no longer listed on the injury report.

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