The Seattle Sounders are coming to town today for the first match-up between Seattle and Colorado this season. The last time the teams met, the Sounders defeated the Colorado Rapids in the Western Conference Finals, and the green team went on to win the MLS Cup. This year, both teams are sitting below the play-off line. The Rapids currently have 19 points and the Sounders are a win away with 21 points.
We talked with Dave Clark of Sounder at Heart about the Sounders record, their schedule, and (just for fun) Jordan Morris.
Burgundy Wave: The Rapids have won 5 out of their last 6 home matches, while the Sounders have lost 5 out of their last 6 away matches. Seattle is also missing a couple key players thanks to Gold Cup call-ups. How confident are you feeling about the Sounders coming to Colorado?
Sounder at Heart: If Colorado wasn't dealing with their injuries it would be one of those games were a 0-0 result could be oddly satisfying. Instead the Sounders need to take advantage of a weakened Rapids team that will below their normally powerful 5280-powered selves. This isn't to say that a Sounders fan should be confident. The offense here is underperforming and the defense is weak, particularly at right centerback and right back, plus Brian Schmetzer basically has 18 healthy bodies. They should be rested and fit. If there is a time to start a second half run it's now.
BW: The Sounders have had a pretty rough schedule themselves - how has this impacted the team and the starting XI?
SaH: This year's schedule has been stupid. Five of the first seven matches were on the road. Finally, the team is back to a more typical home-away pattern, but they fell hard early. The Sounders also try to avoid international dates, which means more midweek games than the standard MLS side.
When a team does that while losing a few of their best players to Bruce Arena anyway (because he started camp two weeks early) and a few more to injury it is nearly impossible to stay strong enough to rotate players. It got especially bad in the three straight road losses by three goals (4-1 loss at Chicago, 3-0 loss at KC the follow Wednesday, and two weeks later a 3-0 loss at Columbus). The Sounders would be a rather typical MLS road team without those disasters in May.
BW: Jordan Morris was a big part of last year's success. This year, he doesn't seem to have much of an impact. What's going on with him? (Side note: I know he got called up and won't be there for our game, I'm just curious, and I assume we will see him next time we meet in October.)
SaH: Jordan Morris is hanging out in Nashville with the USMNT. Hopefully they don't break him. I bring this up because after January camp he had a nagging hamstring issue. It was mild enough he could play, but still reduced his speed during the early season. Then, just as he got better he tweaked an ankle with the US at the end of March. It was also mild enough he could play, but reduced his speed.
Here's the thing - Jordan Morris best trait is his speed. Without it he's just a typical MLS forward. Now he's healthy again, but not present. Ideally he will come back with full health and the knowledge that he must perform in order to go to Russia in 2018. He can put up ten goals in just half a season. He nearly did that last year. If Morris is doing that Seattle is likely to go on a run.