Get hyped, guys! It's the MLS Playoffs for the third time in four years for the Rapids, and it's an intriguing match-up against the Seattle Sounders in the play-in round that will get them started. Both sides are coming off a bit of disappointment coming in (Colorado's being a bit more recent than the month-long slide that Seattle has taken) so it should be an interesting one tomorrow evening at CenturyLink Field.
As per usual, we've had a chat with Dave Clark from Sounder At Heart. His answers to my questions about the Sounders are below, you can find my answers to his questions about the Rapids over at SaH.
BW: Since we last met, there's been a... bit of a dip in form from the Sounders. What's the biggest reason for the sudden spat of bad results leading into the playoffs?
SaH: I think if there was one easy answer it would have been fixed already. It clearly hasn't been fixed. While the team is performing better than they were it still isn't right. Problem the first, getting numbers sucked forward while facing youthful speedsters. Maybe Seattle uses tactical fouls a bit better now. Problem the second, getting the ball to the forwards in dangerous areas. Using Clint as a CAM in the diamond may have solved that. Problem the third, health. The team is much healthier than it was and may be as close to full health as they'll get until the offseason. Problem the fourth, depth. With more health Sigi will have options off the bench that are capable of changing games. That's something unseen for some time here. Still, it is only better. The next month will determine if it is good enough.
BW: Clint Dempsey finally found the net! Do you think that will break the proverbial dam, or that he'll stay relatively snakebitten only to find his form next year?
SaH: The team and Clint are figuring this 'playing with Dempsey' thing out. The fanbase seemed to think that he would just waltz in and do whatever he wanted. This team game took some time to develop. His passing and awareness of his teammates is better. Those same teammates are starting to learn that than can be more aggressive taking spaces because the passes Dempsey can make are better than they are used to seeing. One of the great things about Playoffs is that a team can ride one great player. Seattle has a great player. It's time to ride him.
BW: There's been a lot of talk about Sigi's job come the end of the year. Is it all just talk, and if it's not, what's the bare minimum that his team needs to accomplish for him to keep it? Just beating Colorado? Any deep playoff run? MLS Cup?
SaH: Both lead owner Joe Roth and owner/GM Adrian Hanauer have said that they will not make the decision to retain or release Sigi based off of just the Playoffs. That makes answering this question a bit tough. Sigi had a poor regular season by Seattle standards. How much of that was his fault and how much of it was because of injuries and other absences? If Sigi gets hot and goes on a deep run it's pretty certain he's staying. If the team struggles in an early round (this or the next) then things get complicated. It's a discussion that is ripping through every comments section at Sounder at Heart and honestly, no one really knows the answer.
Significant Absences: Steve Zakuani is out. Shalrie Joseph is almost certainly out, but even if he wasn't he'd be a deep bench player now. The biggest injury question is can Obafemi Martins play on Wednesday night. Sigi indicated after Monday's practice that Tuesday would be the day that decides it. He almost certainly won't tell the world what that decision is.
Projected Lineup: Gspurning; Gonzalez, Traore, Hurtado, Yedlin; Alonso; Evans, Rosales; Dempsey; Johnson, Martins
Thanks again to Dave from Sounder At Heart.