Game day is tomorrow for FC Dallas, which means it is time to bring in a sister blog on the network to discuss the upcoming game. Today, Dave Clark from Sounder at Heart joins us to discuss what is going on with the Seattle Sounders ahead of Wednesday’s game.
BDS: Seattle is the first team to 10 losses this year in MLS, how has the mood been lately surrounding the team? Do they think they can get back on track here in the second half of the season?
SaH: This is unfamiliar territory. Sounders loyalists haven't seen a season this bad since 1979. Those that come to the Sounders through their love of foreign soccer often root for teams with storied histories and collections of silverware. The good news, ha!, is that some of us are Seattle sports fans and have seen even the mighty Seahawks have 4 and 5 win seasons within the last decade. We've lost the Sonics. There's a baseball team that's been awful to mediocre for 13 years.
That element of the fanbase needs to lead. 2016 is bad, possibly awful.
But we're Seattle sports fans, for the most part, we're familiar with this. Sure, it was unexpected for a team as mighty as the Sounders. Hope need not be lost. There are plenty of reasons to think that the Sounders can pull off a couple game winning streak and all the sudden hope re-emerges.
tl;dr - a single poor half-season should not break the fans and supporters.
BDS: The offensive struggle has been pretty noticeable for Seattle this year, has it really been all about losing Obafemi Martins or is there a larger underlying reason for the lack of scoring?
SaH: Losing an MVP caliber player and not replacing them is pretty awful. That's a huge part of this, but not the only part. Last season Ivanschitz and Valdez looked like valuable contributors. In 2016 they look out of step and no longer capable of being starters on playoff quality MLS teams. Then you look at the youth movement as compares to the losses of Pappa, Neagle and Barrett. Replacing those in attacking roles are Morris, Kovar and Anderson. Only one of those is performing at a level that can win games on a playoff team. In some ways the Sounders lost six players and added one-point-five, as Kovar is playing well but lacks the goals and assists expected from an inverted right wing.
The youth movement likely pays off more in 2017 than 2016. Finding a new DP and probably a TAM player probably helps the last half of 2016. But that's still a series of losses. Maybe the offense can get to MLS average, and if so the Sounders will look acceptable.
BDS: If you were Dallas, how would you attack this Sounder defense that has only given up 21 goals this season (good for 6th best in MLS right now)?
SaH: Dallas, and most of MLS, can first succeed by using a high-press. Seattle's reacted poorly to this and the turnovers are pressuring a defense that is stout, but imperfect. The D is quite good at giving up a goal and only a goal. Creating more opportunities helps any attack. The weakest point on the field is to go at Joevin Jones, the left back. He attacks often and is a bit lackadaisical after a failed passing sequence. FCD should be able to exploit that space and poor on-man defensive quality. Do not get baited into crossing from those positions and instead dribble into the CBs. That's where Marshall/Evans/Scott can be beat.
Projected lineup: Stefan Frei; Joevin Jones, Chad Marshall, Brad Evans, Tyrone Mears; Aaron Kovar, Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Christian Roldan; Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris