SEATTLE - MAY 25: Roger Levesque #24 of the Seattle Sounders FC passes against Andrew Jacobson #4 of FC Dallas at Qwest Field on May 25, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. FC Dallas defeated the Sounders 1-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
It's always great to play the Sounders because it gives an opportunity to chat with the benchmark MLS SBN blog Sounder at Heart and blog manager Dave Clark. Head over there for my answers to their questions about FC Dallas.
1) Fredy Montero is arguably the hottest forward in the league right now and he killed Dallas earlier in the year with two goals as a sub. Having played significant minutes on Thursday in Trinidad, do you expect Montero to start and if not, talk about how well he’s done as a substitute this year.
I expect he starts. He starts a lot, and plays a lot. Montero has 2400 all competitions minutes this year and is 13th behind Le Toux, Johnson, Wondo, Saborio, Cooper, Nyarko, Sene, Bruin, Keane, Boyd, Donovan and Pajoy for forwards (some hybrids) in MLS minutes. Somehow he earned a 'lazy' rep around MLS and the Sounders fanbase. Then all he does is play a lot, score a lot and now he tracks back and wins the ball. Only Osvaldo Alonso has more all comps minutes than Montero, so the indications are pretty strong that Montero will be putting his 11 goal, 5 assist in MLS body on the pitch.
And there's reason to think that he's not done with an August that saw him put 8 in the net in his 7 games played. Yes, he's a streak forward (they all are). But he's in middle of one of those streaks. He loves playing in hot weather and is generally a late season stud. In September 2011 he appeared in all 6 games (1 as a sub) and earned 5 goals, 1 assist in 492 minutes.
This is a team and player that is used to playing in many games (last year they tied the most all competitions games played in a single year by an MLS team). He isn't just used to it. He's a better player when he's playing a lot. It is not time to think that he's tired. Instead, it's time to think "How are we going to try to stop him this time?"
2) Schellas Hyndman said on Friday that when Seattle gets a DP that doesn’t work out, they just find another one and I think that’s been the case for Christian Tiffert. How has he done in his first month with the team and what kind of change has he brought to the Seattle midfield?
Sigi Schmid and Adrian Hanauer don't over commit to a player just because of their DP tag. In this case they didn't want to lose Alvaro Fernandez, instead they tried a few different roster tricks to keep him. MLS overruled those ideas, but they did want to add Tiffert without losing Fernandez.
The easiest way to describe Christian Tiffert is to take everything you like about Brad Davis (passing accuracy, vision, deadballs) and everything you like about Brad Evans (positional awareness, defense, role flexibility) and shove it into a German. That's a very useful player in this league.
While he doesn't have the assist numbers yet that such a comp say he should, he's been quite useful. He's generally a one or two touch player who uses the ball to generate speed of play rather than a dribble. What may get overlooked the most about Tiffert is that he's a good tackler. He can go in hard and heavy when needed, doesn't mind the physical nature of MLS (seriously, a DP that doesn't care about that?) and he's always cold. Always. He wore long sleeves in Trinidad.
3) Something I’ve always been curious about is how Seattle fans feel about their team considering they’ve had obvious success in US Open Cup and CCL, but they’ve never won an MLS playoff series. If the Sounders don’t get out of the playoff semifinal round again this year, does the pressure start to mount or is that not really a worry?
This is a tough question because there's a split in the fanbase. The diehards, like 80%+ that read SaH are happy with the team's overall performance and don't think the mini-season of the playoffs are more important than being 2nd best in the regular season, the best in the Open Cup and maybe the best not-RSL CCL team over the past 3+ years. It's a strong resume. This group still wants more.
Than there are the more traditional Seattle sports fans that only care about league play and league success. To them the Open Cup is cute, the CCL is a complete waste of time and the Playoff failures are baffling and a cause of anger. This group isn't as vocal on the nets, but they even have a sub group that thinks that Sigi & Adrian are both overmatched in MLS and don't deserve to be back in 2013.
For me if the team improves every year (they have) and qualifies for the next edition of the CONCACAF Champions League this year will be a win.
Bonus: It seems like every time Seattle plays Dallas, some no-name comes up big for the Sounders. What’s a non-household name that could have a big impact on Sunday’s match?
Watch for Brad Evans. Many seem to think he lost his starting job when Tiffert came along. Evans then went to the left mid role scored a goal and created other chances. He's never glamorous, but he gets things done. Now the things that he gets done are going up on the scoreboard.