The Colorado Rapids and Seattle Sounders get together Saturday night at Century Link Field and this is an important match-up for both clubs. This will be the final game before MLS releases players for 2016 Copa America Centenario (where presumably both the Rapids and the Sounders may lose players) and it also gives a chance for the Rapids to cement their hold on first in the West.
I had a chance to exchange questions with Dave at Sounder at Heart about this match and here is what he had to say:
Burgundy Wave: The Sounders are 4-2-1 in their last seven. What is working that was not working in the first three?
Sounder at Heart: Seattle can still possess the ball and defend well. That means when they score they are likely to get points. Getting Morris on that scoring streak, mostly via the throughball, was vital. If they can get goals from he and Dempsey things look pretty good. But that has been difficult this season. Between the lack of creativity and finishing the attack needs help.
BW: The Sounders are struggling in front of the net with just a goal a game this season. Why the challenges?
SAH: There's only one player with a recent history of goal scoring (Clint Dempsey), and he's been poor so far this season. Designated Player Nelson Haedo Valdez has yet to score or assist this season (though one clear goal was blocked by a teammate). Herculez Gomez is putting in wonderful effort, but not scoring. Less well known names at forward also aren't scoring (Kovar, Ivanschitz, Anderson, D.Jones). Losing Obafemi Martins leaves a huge wound in the attack and we have yet to heal it.
Jordan Morris is the lone bright spot in the attack. He's wonderful.
BW: What is the mood in the Emerald City? Is there concern with the slow (for Seattle) start?
SAH: Things are dire. It's unusual for the Sounders to be out of the playoff picture, and their performance completely justifies it. Even if/when everything goes right with injuries and form they only look like an average team, at best. The level of angst in the community is large. I can't say that it is undeserved. The good thing is that the Sounders have games in hand, a DP slot open and enough TAM to sign a high value player in addition. There are reasons for hope, if they can maintain they pace that ignores the first three games.
Projected lineup: Stefan Frei; Joevin Jones, Zach Scott, Brad Evans, Tyrone Mears; Cristian Roldan; Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg; Andreas Ivanschitz, Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris
Projected Score: 2-1 Sounders