The Hoops would like to avoid boasting about a 2-8-4 all-time record against the Sounders since their expansion season in MLS in 2009. Two of those losses came this season with a dose of goals from distinguished Texans Clint Dempsey and Kenny Cooper.
Seattle is currently in decent shape injury-wise, with only limited contributers on the short and long-term injury list. That said, the 5th match in 3 weeks will add to the exhaustion of the first XI.
I am throwing darts at this one. On the one hand, the Sounders are in the midst of a grueling stretch where they lifted silverware in the form of the US Open Cup after 2 hours in Chester. On the other hand, this might be the match where they need their best squad to keep a leg up in the Supporters' Shield race (next game is against Chivas USA in Seatlle).
GK: Stefan Frei; RB: DeAndre Yedlin; CB: Chad Marshall, Djjimi Traore, Chad Marshall; LB: Leo Gonzalez; RM: Marco Pappa; CM: Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso; LM: Lamar Nagle; FW: Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins.
FC Dallas Central Defense vs. Martins/Dempsey. The Armchair Analyst, Matthew Doyle, has repeatedly cited Sounders' strength in attacking the middle of the defense ("Zone 14") with Dempsey and Martins. They've been extremely effective, and yet, through accident or managerial cunning, FC Dallas have two technically proficient Center Backs in the form of slight and converted wing back Zach Loyd, and rising star and captain Matt Hedges. Loyd and Hedges ability and focus in denying the mere inch needed by two world class strikers will go a long way towards determining this match.
Keys to Three Points
1. Win Zone 14. As much as this applies in the defensive half, it applies equally in the offensive half. Without the threat of Fabian Castillo tonight, Blas Perez and Tesho Akindele need to combine to punch a couple in tonight. Winning in the air will be tough against the resurgent Chad Marshall, but they simply must find a way to latch on to good service.
2. Keep the ball. Counterattacking with Castillo is easy math, but given his balky hamstring, our ability to do so tonight will be diminished. I think keeping the ball a little more tonight will increase the number of chances we have with Castillo missing. Furthermore, this will limit Seattle's opportunities and hopefully help exhaust a team on the tail end of a long road trip.
3. Eliminate poor falls in the attacking half. Zach Loyd has been a revelation at Center back this summer, and he has demonstrated all of the qualities you might want from one of your men in the middle...except for being a bit on the short side. We saw that punished last weekend when Alan Gordon picked up the late winner in Carson. The law of averages will catch up to us if we give up too many dead balls in the defensive half tonight. Seattle has too many trees not to capitalize on the one shortcoming of Loyd's game.