Heading into the rematch of a game they probably should have won in Seattle, the Fire's first game under interim coach Frank Klopas isn't an easy one. Seattle snapped Real Salt Lake's 29 game MLS undefeated string at Rio Tinto Stadium last weekend. Seattle did benefit from a red card to Jamison Olave in the 58th minute and the fact that they caught RSL at the right time during a down period without playmaker Javier Morales. Regardless, any win at Rio Tinto is a well earned one.
The Sounders will come in with a slightly different line up than the one the Fire last faced in April. They'll be without the injured Steve Zakuani for the remainder of the season and they'll likely be without Alvaro Fernandez and O'Brian White as well. Zakuani and White were the goal scorers in the first game on April 9. Sigi Schmid will probably stick with most of the eleven that earned the victory in Utah, which means Fredy Montero will start on the bench for a second consecutive match. Nate Jaqua and Mike Fucito got the call up top last weekend.
Midfield will see Osvaldo Alonso and Brad Evans centrally while the outside players could be Mauro Rosales and Lamar Neagle on the right and left respectively. Erik Friberg may also be utilized since he did start last weekend against RSL.
The back line ahead of Kasey Keller should stay pretty much the same with James Riley, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, and Tyson Wahl from right to left. Wahl will be tested against Oduro if Klopas keeps him at right mid.
The interim coach did say this week that formation and line up changes wouldn't change drastically after De Los Cobos' departure. Klopas seems partial to a 4-4-2 but which players he prefers in that line up without Marco Pappa isn't clear yet. There seem to be two assured starters in midfield at the moment, Logan Pause and Dominic Oduro. Daniel Paladini seems to hold an edge over Baggio Husidic and Corben Bone at the moment for the other central spot. The left wing spot is up for grabs now that Patrick Nyarko has returned to training and is no longer listed on the injury report. If Nyarko isn't ready to start, Davis Paul or possibly Corben Bone could get the call. The pace of an Oduro/Nyarko combination is surely an intriguing one that will cause match up problems for every team in the league.
De Los Cobos started Cristian Nazirit and Diego Chaves up top last week and had some success. Although neither player scored, each one took turns hitting the posts at the north and south ends of Toyota Park. Gaston Puerari should also remain in the mix here.
The only question in the back line is whether or not Klopas decides to keep Bratislav Ristic at right back ahead of Jalil Anibaba. The remaining three should once again be Yamith Cuesta, Cory Gibbs, and Gonzalo Segares.
Sean Johnson will resume his starting spot in goal.
FIRE - OUT: Mike Banner M (L achilles tendinitis), Steven Kinney D (R achilles repair), Marko Maric D (L deltoid sprain), Josip Mikulic D (L clavicle fracture)
SOUNDERS - OUT: O'Brian White F (L leg surgery), Steve Zakuani M (R leg fracture); QUESTIONABLE: Alvaro Fernandez M (hamstring strain)
The Fire have a change behind the bench but it remains to be seen if the move facilitates a change on the pitch. One thing that will be different is the team's defensive approach to set pieces. Rather than employing the zonal marking techniques that has resulted in seven goals allowed expect the Fire to switch to a tighter man marking system. The reliance on "zone" defending could explain why several goals (ie Corrales' last week) have been permitted after it appeared that no Fire defender bothered to pick up the eventual scorer.
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