Know Your Enemy: Seattle Sounders FC
OTF’s Stephen Mangat sips his latte, puts on his Pearl Jam, and takes a look at the Sounders…
There’s nothing like a good mystery, especially at a point in the season when things should be well known. The Seattle Sounders will be without top forwards Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson due to USMNT duty. Other missing key men will likely be Brad Evans and Shalrie Joseph (injuries). While the Chicago Fire will be without new man Arevalo Rios, and the Estonian Rocky Joel Lindpere, the one thing that’s a mystery is which Fire team will show up. Will it be the team that recently beat Kansas City, Montreal, and Philly? Or the team that lost to DC United and New England and failed to win at home against Houston last weekend? Whatever the case, it’ll be an interesting one, so let’s take a look at unraveling the riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma the Seattle Sounders will put on the field.
PLAY OUR MUSIC!!!
Sigi Schmid will keep it simple with a 4-4-2. I have all kinds of respect for Schmid, who has done great work (and won trophies) with UCLA, LA Galaxy, and Columbus, but now that Rick Majerus is dead, he’s gotta be the last guy one would select from a lineup to be involved with any kind of proper sport.
Michael Gspurning is a solid keeper and made his name with Skoda Xanthi in Greece. He also speaks Greek, so perhaps Frank Klopas can get in his head.
On the left will probably be Zach Scott, whose older brother lives in Pennsylvania and is a middle manager at a well-known paper company. In the middle will be UEFA Champions League winner Djimi Traore who scored one of the greatest backheels of all time. Joining Traore could be Patrick Ianni or ex-All Star Jhon Kennedy Hurtado or Leo Gonzalez. Or Traore could sit and two of the other three could start. Who the hell really knows? On the right should be DeAndre Yedlin, who is like the soccer version of uncooked chicken: raw, dangerous, and unpredictable coming out of the back.
Osvaldo Alonso (central) and Mauro Rosales (right) will be the key men, and while they’re not the match-dominating forces of the past few years, they can still change and impact games. That said, Alonso increasingly relies on the dark arts to impose himself, and his rough tactics are always close to backfiring. On the left will probably be veteran Marc Burch. Servando Carrasco can be expected to fill the other central midfield slot
It’ll probably be Lamar Neagle and Obafemi Martins up top. They’re both strong, fast, explosive, and streaky. So while they don’t have the skill or sneaky timing on their runs like Johnson and Dempsey, they can be a handful when on their day.
How can Chicago win?
Balls to the wall
This is high time to get points in Seattle with some of their top players out. Add the fact that the Fire needs points, and there’s no reason why Klopas shouldn’t look to come out swinging from the opening bell.
Don’t bother trying to play
Chicago sucks on turf, and even when the Fire play on grass they struggle to play the good stuff half the time. So they might as well abandon any pretense of sharp passing and just play direct and look to outwork their opponent. With Seattle having played on Wednesday, constant pressure could wear on tired legs.
Just get the ball to Mike Magee
It’s clear that Mike Magee is Chicago’s best player by some distance. Instead of trying some tactical nonsense, Klopas should just figure out a way to make sure Magee gets as many touches as possible as close to the goal as possible. Whether it’s playing him behind two other strikers, having him sit on the shoulder of the last defender and launch balls over the top, or run a wedge formation with Magee behind the blockers, just get him the goddamn ball.
Good luck, Fire fans. Time is running out for your Men in Red, but with the stumbles of those closest to them, there’s always hope.
OTF’s Stephen Mangat once had beers with Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne. Follow him @smangat12