The weekend is nearly here as FC Dallas is getting set to host the Seattle Sounders for the first meeting in 2017 between the two sides. Both teams are coming into this match on different paths as Dallas has gone winless in their last eight games, while Seattle has gone unbeaten in their last 12.
To help preview this game, we have brought in Dave Clark from Seattle blog Sounder at Heart to discuss Saturday’s important match.
BDS: Seattle has been enjoying a pretty nice unbeaten run as of late but is there a sense that there are starting to be too many draws and not enough wins?
SaH: A 6-0-6 +12 record can seem disappointing when its most recent games are three-straight 1-1 draws -- all winnable. Plus, the "start" of the run (it was actually the 4th game) was that wild 4-3 come-from-behind win over D.C. United. People's opinions about this run are rooted entirely in their state of mind.
The optimist sees 12 unbeaten, and a defense that is as good as any in MLS with both supported by a grit and heart that are incomparable. The performance late in games is incredible.
The pessimist sees three games without a win and a month without more than a single goal scored in a game. Performance metrics aren't matching advanced metrics. The defense can't hold a shutout, with only four clean sheets in this stretch, mostly against bad teams.
Truth likely lies in the middle. Despite a poor start the Seattle Sounders are situated well to finish with a bye in the first round and a top 5 position in the Shield race for an outside shot at hosting an MLS Cup. This is a good, if flawed team.
BDS: No Jordan Morris this weekend due to his injury, how does Seattle step up in the attack to replace him?
SaH: Will Bruin will be the lone forward. Acquired in a classic MLS offseason trade of allocation money for player Bruin's performance is strong enough that many think he should start over Jordan Morris even when both are healthy. Will is merely a rotational player as used by Brian Schmetzer, but he has 8 goals in his 15 starts and 10 sub appearances.
His role will be to open space by using his broad shoulders. He is a stable, if unspectacular target forward type who can score with his head. His pressing after turnovers is nearly as good as Morris' pressing, but the lack of speed limits the effectiveness. Seattle has done well with Bruin who does a fair job of opening space for Clint Dempsey.
BDS: It feels weird even asking this since we're already into September but since our two teams haven't met this season, who are some new faces that FC Dallas should be on the look out for in this game that we may not know about?
SaH: There are four key additions. We just covered Will Bruin, so let's move on to Kelvin Leerdam, Victor Rodriguez and Lamar Neagle. Unlike Bruin they were all added in the summer window. Leerdam is a Dutch right back who gets forward quite well. His crosses are not the most dangerous part of his attacking game, instead it is his long throws that contribute. A solid dribbler in tight spaces Kelvin adds a bit more penetration when the team is at its best, but he can fall into a pattern of lofting the ball into the area.
Victor Rodriguez came to Seattle from bad La Liga teams after having a youth career with Barcelona. He is tiny, but pressures well. His skill-set is similar to Marco Pappa, but he moves much quicker and all that technical skill is amplified. Victor is also quite dangerous on direct kicks.
Lamar Neagle is a Sounder again. A late trade meant that the local hero is now the first or second attacking option on the bench. Neagle is still the direct-to-goal player he's always been. A hard worker, Lamar works best as a support player rather than how D.C. United counted on him to be one of their key players in attack.
All will play this weekend.
Lineup prediction: Stefan Frei; Joevin Jones, Chad Marshall, Roman Torres, Kelvin Leerdam; Cristian Roldan, Osvaldo Alonso; Victor Rodriguez, Clint Dempsey, Nicolas Lodeiro; Will Bruin