I traded three questions with the great Dave Clark of Sounder at Heart in advance of Sunday's big match. I think these should provide you with a good idea of where the Sounders are at.
1) (Right back Zach Scott picked up a red card in Wednesday's match vs RSL) How does the Zach Scott suspension affect Seattle and what is the overall state of their back line?
The situation at right back will be much better as Swedish international Adam Johansson will play. He is a key element to the offense with a strong cross and good runs down the flank. Johansson also has an understanding with Mauro Rosales that helps the Argentine play effectively.
It is at centerback where there are questions. If neither Patrick Ianni nor Jhon Kennedy Hurtado can play due to their injuries Seattle may be forced to start Brad Evans there. His recent performances there are decent, but neither were starts. Where he would be likely to struggle the most is in communicating needs for help when his zone is flooded.
2) Do you anticipate Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero link back up in the starting lineup on Sunday and what has made them such a dynamic duo?
Absolutely. After Eddie Johnson's strong performances with the United States he's back in Seattle and ready to rejoin with Montero. While they don't have the numbers of Wondo and whoever you think their second best forward is over in San Jose, they are as good as any other forward pairing in the league.
They don't directly combine often, but how they use the space the other offers means that either EJ will be one-on-one at the end of a cross or Montero will be free from 15-20 yards out. There is no better header of the ball in the history of MLS - not McBride, nor Casey, nor Ching. So getting the GAM in space where he can do that can crush teams. But if the two CBs suck back onto him there's just one of the best shots from distance in 2012. Dallas has the defensive mids to drop back and help, so in the end it may come down to Seattle's flank play.
3) This game is big for both sides for much different reasons. What makes this game important for Seattle with the playoffs already locked up?
While the Sounders are in the second season there are three reasons for them to push for maximum points. First, they have a strong shot at 2nd in the West which would give them a slight advantage over Salt Lake. With the change to how the MLS Cup is awarded finishing with 59 points would put them ahead of most of the East so there would be a chance at another 60,000+ crowd in Seattle. Third, there is still a chance that Seattle backs into the 2013/14 CONCACAF Champions League. Playing in that tournament has helped convince several quality players to join the Rave Green and is the path to the organization's ultimate goal - success in the Club World Cup.
Projected Lineup: Gspurning; Gonzalez, Evans, Parke, Johansson; Alonso; Martinez, Tiffert, Rosales; Montero, Johnson
If either of the injured CBs can go Evans would be at left mid. That position could also see Tiffert (Rose at CM), Zakuani, Estrada or Caskey.