SEATTLE - MARCH 25: Steve Zakuani #11 of the Seattle Sounders FC reacts after scoring a goal against the Houston Dynamo at Qwest Field on March 25, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
The gates of Starfire Sports Arena must be white hot by now from the friction of so many Sounders fans pressing into its intimate confines. In the last two days it saw the senior Sounders defeat Atlanta to advance in the US Open Cup and the Sounders Women play their home opener in front of 4500 fans. And tonight it'll host a Sounders Reserve match which has had its interest level suddenly ratched up to 11 with the news today that Steve Zakuani is expected to play. That would be his first competitive game action since his leg was broken in a game against the Colorado Rapids in April of last year.
The opponent tonight will be rivals Vancouver Whitecaps, and some have expressed skepticism about whether Zakuani should be playing in a game that could get heated. I think that's probably too much fretting, given that Steve's chance of reinjury is quite low. Bone breaks, once they heal, tend to leave the bone actually stronger, and the nerve damage from his compartment syndrome might affect his ability, but it's not an imminent threat of reinjury. And while it's been confirmed he's likely to play, no one said anything about him starting. If he gets in 10 minutes at the end of the match, that would probably be a successful outcome all around without any real risks, regardless of the opponent.
The nature of that opponent is open to some question. This is the 'reserve' Whitecaps team, but thanks to the international break the senior team hasn't played in over a week and isn't scheduled to play again for another week. So don't be surprised to be some high quality 'reserves' in action. The Sounders don't have that luxury, as the US Open Cup is giving them a regular schedule of games. This is the end of Sigi's declared 'Opportunity Week' and after some of the rotational players like Alex Caskey, Andy Rose, and Sammy Ochoa seized that opportunity on Wednesday, it'll likely be up to the deeper roster players like Mike Seamon and Servando Carrasco to take their turns tonight.
The match will be broadcast in audio only on SoundersFC.com, but admission is free (with a suggested donation to the Sounders' charity partners) so there's no reason not to fill up those seats for a third consecutive night and give Steve some love when he takes the field again.