SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 14: Leonardo Gonzalez #12 of the Seattle Sounders passes against Brian Mullan #11 of the Colorado Rapids at CenturyLink Field on April 14, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. The Sounders defeated the Rapids 1-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
It'll be a quick turnaround for the Rapids after their disappointing July 4th showing. Not only a quick turnaround in fact, but a quick turnaround against a very tough competition. Sure, the Seattle Sounders have not won a game in nine straight matches, most recently drawing Real Salt Lake 0-0 at Rio Tinto, but they've been historically dominant against the Rapids on their home turf. (One of those rare stadiums that the Rapids have never even gotten a point in.)
Still, if there was ever a time for the Rapids to sneak into CenturyLink Field and escape with a win, now would be the time considering the frustrated Sounders' form. In anticipation of the match tomorrow, Dave Clark from Sounder At Heart and I exchanged a couple of questions about our teams. I asked the inevitable Steve Zakuani question as well as their probable line up and more...
Head over to Sounder At Heart to read my answers to their questions about the Rapids, below you'll find what they had to tell me about their Sounders:
BW: I've been surprised to see the Sounders slide last so long recently considering the talent that they have available. What do you attribute the recent loss in form to the most?
SaH: Defensive struggles. A team that once chose their potential starters defensively based on how they would match up tactically with their opponent has been forced to just play who ever is healthy. Those rare healthy bodies aren't necessarily the best suited for the roles they are asked to play so the defense is weakened a little bit.
Combine that with playing with not enough rest (uberfit Zach Scott is looking winded lately) and the defense gets even worse. During this 9-match winless run, Seattle is giving up nearly two goals a game. It's a rare soccer team that can do that and still win.
BW: I've been seeing more Steve Zakuani updates lately out of the Sounders camp, including murmurs that he was perhaps ready to play but didn't against Salt Lake and New England. It sounds like a perfect story-line set up, is there a chance that Sigi Schmid might put Zakuani out against the Rapids?
SaH: A lot of Sounders fans want Zakuani to return to the pitch for this game. It's the only home competitive game at the CLink for a month, so it's special for that reason. There would also be the kind of karmic feeling of it being against the Rapids.
He's definitely not ready to start. He only went 45 in his Reserve game appearance (as a forward), so if he plays it would probably be as the second or third sub up top. He still has the burst speed, decent touch and a great shot. I'd place money that he's in the 18, but doesn't get in unless Seattle is up and feeling good about getting a win.
BW: Eddie Johnson seems to have found his top form lately with the Sounders, how has he been linking up with Fredy Montero up top?
SaH: They aren't really linking up well. Both are playing quite well. There's just this thing. If a play is drawn up to be a cross from the outside Johnson is the target and Montero is on the periphery ready to collect some slop. If the play goes up the middle it's about Montero working his magic with Eddie ready to poach.
Even without "meshing" the two are the 5th most prolific forward pairing in MLS by goals scored and second in assists. Are they Cooper and Henry? or Wondo and Lenhart? Nope. Seattle's problems scoring have almost nothing to do with Fredy and Eddie, instead those troubles are about the lack of support from the midfield.
BW: Projected Lineup?
SaH: Meredith; Burch, Ianni, Parke, Johansson; Alonso; Fernandez, Evans, Rosales; Montero, Johnson
Thanks again to Sounder At Heart for this, check them out.