The weekend is here and it is time to dive into our weekend opponent with some help from a fellow SBN blog. This week we welcome in Mark from Sounder at Heart to help preview Saturday’s FC Dallas and Seattle Sounder game.
BDS: Unlike previous years where the Sounders started off slow and struggled through the early parts of the regular season, this year they’ve been one of the best teams in MLS. What has sparked that change? Has it been healthier players or just a buy-in to the system?
SaH: It mostly has to do with the team’s health. Last year at key moments early in the season, pretty much all of the DPs and other good players were hurt. The Sounders spent most of the last preseason planning their offense around a healthy Jordan Morris, and well, he tore his ACL before the season started.
This year the attack is much more diverse. We’ve seen at times the Sounders have missed players to injury or suspension, but they’ve been able to continue their great form.
BDS: Since we’re near the halfway point of the season, what does this Sounder team need to do to maintain their form? Do you feel this is a championship-type team in the making?
SaH: The Sounders have been grinding out results for about two months now. Should the Sounders maintain their form over the next month, dealing with International callups and injuries, they’ll need to do the same thing. I think the Sounders are capable of weathering the storm over the next month or so, but, relatively soon the Sounders need to get back to their dominate performances, like the ones they put on early in the season.
Seattle has always been constructed to be a “second half” of the season team. It just so happens that this year, they’ve put a lot of points on the board early on. This year is no different. The signings they made in the last window (Joevin Jones and Xavier Arreaga) were in mind to help the team in the latter half of the season. They’ll also probably add at least one more TAM/DP level player in the summer. I fully expect the Sounders to be in contention for MLS Cup, however I am worried about the neck breaking pace that LAFC is setting for the Supporters’ Shield.
BDS: I was pretty bummed to see the news of Chad Marshall retiring from play. Who will be stepping up in the defense without him and how do you keep from dropping games like you did last week to SKC?
SaH: Chad’s retirement is a huge bummer for everyone. Thankfully, the Sounders are readily equipped with quality centerbacks to step in. Kim Kee-hee is a DOTY-level defender, and even though he’s a bit long in the tooth, Roman Torres has been playing well lately. The Sounders are also working in their new DP CB, Xavier Arreaga. On Saturday, Arreaga and Torres will probably start. Kee-hee picked up a knock against SKC, so he’ll probably sit.
The Sounders need to be strong at the back against FC Dallas and not make stupid mistakes. They turned the ball over far too much in KC, and that led to defenders being out of position. If the Sounders can put in a strong defensive performance, like the ones they did against Philly or Houston, I think they’ll be fine.
You can view our answers to their questions here.