The Seattle Sounders will hit the road for the second time this season looking to make amends for a disappointing 1-0 loss at FC Cincinnati. In that game, the Sounders managed just one shot on goal despite a man advantage for the latter part of the game. More alarming is that the Sounders had the majority of there which will not be the case at Sporting.
The Rave Green will be without six players on Saturday due to the FIFA international window. Raúl Ruidíaz (Peru), Alex Roldan (El Salvador), Nouhou (Cameroon), Xavier Arreaga (Ecuador), Obed Vargas (United States U-20s), and Reed Baker-Whiting (United States U-19s) have all been called in to represent their respective countries.
HOW WILL THE SOUNDERS LINE UP
With no Eber, the question is who will head coach Brian Schmetzer line up front? An educated guess is that Schmetzer will play one striker upfront which most likely will be Jordan Morris rather than Fredy Montero. The difference between the two is speed and technical ability. Montero has superior technical ability but obviously not as quick and fast as Morris who is leading the team with three goals scored.
Fortunately, the Sounder’s midfield is intact which will make life easier for Schmetzer to move players and use different formations. The experience and superior technical ability of Nicolas Lodeiro, Albert Rusnak, Joao Paulo, and Cristian Roldan should tip the scales in the Sounder’s favor. Schmetzer did hint after practicing this week that he could start Cristian at left back in place of his absent brother but that was more coach speak. Look for Cristian to start at right full-back. Another wrinkle could be the insertion of Lou Chau at left midfielder Josh Atencio next to Joao Paulo.
The absence of Nouhou and Alex Roldan has left a big hole on both flanks. If Schmetzer slides Cristian on the right side the most logical choice on the left would be Kelyn Rowe. These are the type of games the Sounders retained the eleven-year veteran. Rowe is a fundamentally sound and dependable defender.
For Schmetzer the return of Jackson Ragen from a midsection tweet suffered last week means stability in the center back position. Ragen and Yeimar Andrade are the preferred pairings. The pair’s consistency and stellar play by Stefan Frei are major reasons why the Sounders have conceded one goal in four games played this season.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
While winless this season Sporting scored its first goal of the season against FC Dallas a goolaso by winger Danny Salloi . Despite missing two penalties in the 2-1 loss to FC Dallas Sporting is brimming with confidence due to the chances they created. The team will have momentum playing in front of the home crowd. Sounders killer Johnny Russell has scored six goals and an assist against the Rave Green. Russell is battling a hamstring injury and is listed as questionable for the game.
Schmetzer has said all week that it’s next man up which is one of his favorite sayings. Look for the Sounders to start on the front foot as they have done in all four games this season with a 4-2-3 -1 formation. Sporting is a dangerous team that can create chances inside the box. The experience and continuity of the Sounders midfield should be the difference in a game that figures to be physical, intense and full of passion.