Behind Enemy Lines: Scouting Seattle Sounders

Otto Greule Jr

Seattle is coming off a 0-0 draw to Real Salt Lake in the midweek.

The season has come down to two games. And no I am not talking about next weekends' game with Chivas USA. What I am talking about is tomorrow's clash with the Seattle Sounders FC and the Vancouver-Portland game. Both games will decide whether next week's home game for FC Dallas has any sort of meaning or if it will just be a final game to cap what has been an up and down season.

Seattle comes into this game with one win in their last five games - a 3-0 beating over their rivals Portland. Three of the games in that five game span have been draws to Salt Lake, Vancouver and Portland.

Some folks have been frustrated with this Seattle team this season. They beat the teams that they should beat like Chivas USA, Portland, Colorado and others from the Eastern Conference. But they've struggled against solid competition like San Jose, Salt Lake, Sporting KC and New York.

Johnson's resurgence

The big story this season hasn't been the play of Mauro Rosales or Fredy Montero but that of former FC Dallas forward Eddie Johnson.

Johnson has scored an impressive 14 goals and added in two assists of his own. Recently for the United States men's national team he tallied two big goals on the road against Antigua and Barbados in a 2-1 that helped the US in World Cup qualifying.

Johnson will likely be paired up front with Montero once again for this game. The two have combined well this season and have contributed 27 of Seattle's 48 goals. But don't expect the two to feed off one another, they rely on their midfield for service.

Dallas will have to do their best to slow these two down and limit the amount of service they get from Rosales and Christian Tiffert.

Last month when the Sounders visited Dallas, Rosales was key for in Seattle's lone goal. He tends to have big games against Dallas - as does Montero.

Alonso and Gspurning leading the defense

Two key players in the Seattle defense are defensive midfielder Oslvado Alonso and goal keeper Michael Gspurning.

Both are huge parts of this Seattle team and if you want to put pressure on the Austrian keeper you have to limit what Alonso does in the midfield. Alonso is typically every where in the midfield. If Dallas can spread him out and make him chase the game a bit, keeping him from getting too physical with David Ferreira then FC Dallas could find ways to put more pressure on the back four and on Gspruning.

The Sounders defense has been better in recent weeks. Even without fullback Zach Scott - who is suspended for this game - Seattle is able to turn to Swedish defender Adam Johannson. Keep an eye on him as he'll link up well with Roslaes on the flanks and cause issues for Jair Benitez and Fabian Castillo.

Seattle has been banged up in the back lately too though. Brad Evans may have to start at center back if Patrick Ianni or Jhon Kennedy Hurtado are unable to go. That could be a huge thing for Dallas to capitalize on if Evans finds himself out of place in the back.

Final thoughts

This is a big one for both sides. I don't have to tell you the meaning it has for Dallas, you already know that if you are reading this site. For Seattle it means two possible things: 1) playoff seeding and 2) a potential berth into the 2013/14 CONCACAF Champions League. Both are key for Seattle moving forward so don't expect them to take Dallas lightly here.

The unfortunate nature of the scheduling means that Dallas will know what this game means by kickoff. Vancouver and Portland will finish up around the same time and you can bet that a lot of Dallas players will be thinking of that. They'll have to focus on Seattle as much as possible and just hope that Portland can pull off the upset at BC Place.

A win is possible in Seattle and Dallas has seen plenty of success at CenturyLink Field before too. Doing it without the likes of George John (who I think will come off the bench again), Brek Shea (I agree with Daniel, I think he's done for the year) and Jackson (I see him sitting this one out as well), means that someone is going to have to step up. Ferreira and Blas Perez need to have the biggest games in their FCD careers tomorrow night to give Dallas a chance. And the defense has to continue to hold up.

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