Putting that dire match against San Jose behind us, we're looking forward to a match against a tough Seattle Sounders team this weekend in a stadium where the Rapids have never managed to win a game -- though they are in a bit of a streak-busting mood, if the 1-0 win over Toronto FC is any indication -- CenturyLink Field. With the game quickly approaching, we exchanged a few questions with Dave Clark from Sounder At Heart. Here's what he had to say about his team, and you can see my answers to his Rapids-related questions over at their site.
BW: Clint Dempsey finally started doing Clint Dempsey things in the past two weeks, what clicked for him or the team that has finally turned him into the goalscorer we expected?
SaH: Scoring goals can be kind of random. Plenty of Clint's shots last Fall looked good, but were blocked, saved, or a touch off the mark. Now that the shots or falling in his favor he looks amazing. It isn't just a regression correction though. He's playing a bit higher and a bit wider (on the left of course). Though he didn't spend training camp with Seattle, his time with Fulham did an important thing. It made certain he got to full fitness and trained at a level slightly higher than MLS (only slightly, it's Fulham).
Rather than coming to the league slightly out of shape and getting injured he's now Clint Dempsey. This is what's expected. It isn't just the expectation of MLS fans, but fans of the US National Team. There's little reason to think that he will slump again. The Oba/Clint dynamic is amazing, right up there with Donovan/Keane as the top modern pairing in the USA.
BW: The Sounders have given up more goals than any other Western Conference team currently in the Top 5 despite the addition of Chad Marshall. What's been the issue for the Sounders D? Has Marshall played up to expectations?
SaH: Marshall is amazing. His skills in the air and transitioning to an attack out of the back are at a level beyond normal men. He's surrounded by others that are good to great as well. There are communication issues. Goals are coming either from the gap between the CBs and Alonso or starting out right in the space behind Yedlin. People aren't stepping into those gaps. Anibaba didn't close twice against Portland. A mix of Marshall, Alonso and Pineda are supposed to shift to the right when Yedlin bombs forward. The run-of-play defensive issues really come down to that.
Two PKs. That odd corner by the Crew. Several Goal of the Week nominees. The defense should finish the season as one of the better ones. This year the defensive slump is taking place at the beginning of the season and Seattle is still winning. That feels a lot better than it did in 2014.
BW: What exactly is a Geoduck, and have you ever eaten one? I'd like to know if we have to worry about Shane O'Neill getting some sort of food poisoning before the match.
SaH: I've never tasted geoduck. It's a very large clam, basically.
That looks pretty disgusting, but when Top Chef Seattle was here it was one of the proteins a lot of cheftestants wanted to use. It can be prepared to be really delicious, I guess.
Absences: Lowe and Parsemain are on the DL. Evans and Rose are recently back from relatively minor injuries and both should be 90 minutes fit.
Projected lineup: Frei; Gonzalez, Traore, Marshall, Yedlin; Pineda, Alonso; Evans; Dempsey, Martins, Neagle.
I should note that Pappa could start over Neagle and I wouldn't be surprised. Evans would then be the RM in a bucket 4-4-2
Thanks again to Dave, check out Sounder At Heart for all your Sounders needs ahead of the game this weekend.