Seattle is quality, but beating this Sounders squad on Saturday (10 p.m., The Comcast Network) isn’t impossible.
If you look at from back to front, it seems like a tall task to have to keep players like Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Osvaldo Alonzo, Lamar Neagle and more under wraps – and it will be. But from back to front, the Sounders can be wrangled.
Looking at the numbers, one of the biggest reasons Seattle is doing so well, is that offensively its scoring more goals than its opponent.
Sounds simple enough.
But that doesn’t mean opponents aren’t scoring at a crazy rate. Seattle has scored 18 goals in an eight-game regular season span, but opponents aren’t far off the mark with 12. Former Toronto FC turned Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei enters the match with a 1.50 goals against average with only a pair of shutouts to his credit.
Here are a few more of Seattle's major players the Union will have to keep wraps on.
We’ve mentioned Dempsey, Martins, Alonzo and Neagle but they aren’t the only offensive threats on head coach Sigi Schmid’s roster. Forwards Kenny Cooper and Chad Barrett have scored this season. Cooper has a pair in back-to-back matches and credit Barrett with the game winner that gave Seattle a win in its season opener against defending MLS champions Sporting Kansas City. MLS stalwart Marco Pappa is another threat as he is known for getting himself enough space to take shots. What has to be noted is that this Sounders team as whole takes a ton of shots. There is no last pass; guys are shooting from distance early and often. In eight MLS matches, the Sounders have taken 114 shots, 48 of which have threatened goalkeepers with 18 that have found the back of the net.
Graphic: A look at Seattle's probable lineup and formation against the Union Saturday (10 p.m., TCN)
Impressive in itself looking at this from a straight numbers standpoint.
Now, factor in the variable of a slick, wet surface which is sure to be Century Link Field come game time…
This is the area of the field that has and can be exploited despite the names that adorn the Sounders back line. Let’s start off with DeAndre Yedlin. Yedlin, 20, on the bubble as a possible U.S. men’s national team call-up for June’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil is one of two players to play every minute for Seattle this season. The other is MLS veteran Chad Marshall who has two assists to his credit this season. Dmiji Traore has been an imposing force at center back and Dylan Remick rounds out the back four at left fullback. Since adding Dempsey, Seattle’s formation has resembled more of a 4-4-1-1 than a traditional 4-4-2 with the center four of midfielders pushing up extremely high on attack. This puts a lot on Seattle’s back four to have to keep under wraps which allows for passing lanes and through ball spots at many points. Additionally, while he is listed as a midfielder, Brad Evans has a wealth of experience as a defender including on the U.S. national team and does drop in to support. He’s a big body, one that is difficult to corral on both sides of the ball.
Not an impossibility; as the Union continue climb out of the bottom half of the Eastern Conference, this could be the team that serves as the best to springboard a club with so much talent out of the goal scoring rut it’s seemingly gotten itself into. Seattle is riding a three-game win streak, but is 1-2-0 at home, finding both of its losses for the season arriving at Century Link Field. If the Union hope to make it loss No. 3 for Seattle, using the wide open space of that venue to utilize manager John Hackworth’s 4-3-3 in addition putting good chances on frame low and away from Frei is a must.
What are your thoughts on this Seattle squad? Leave a comment below.
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org