This will be a game where both teams strive for a full three points for the first time in weeks. Chivas hasn't won since May 9th (only three matches for two points) and Seattle doesn't have a win in league play since April 25th (five matches for five points).
Both teams will be down a few significant players, and this is where the opportunities come for Sigi and Preki to either win or lose at the Home Depot Center.
Chivas will be without two players due to their service to the US National Team (LB Jonothan Bornstein, RM Sacha Kljestan) as well as without the service of CM Jesse Marsch. They have continuing injury issues to D Bobby Burling, D Ante Jazic, K Dan Kennedy, F Ante Razov, D Lawson Vaughn, M Cesar Zamora. That's a lot of talent on the IR and training tables.
This means that occasional subs will be starting at LB, LM and CM. Seattle as a result of their balance issues, injuries and Red Cards have made some adjustments to their starting lineup. Today, the official site says that they are moving to a 4-2-3-1 with the Wingers being Zakuani and Ljungberg with Evans back to the RDM and Montero in the CAM.
With Stepanovic and Curtin on the left this screams for Ljungberg, Riley and Evans to run that side ragged. Using the experience that those three have in the game, and the league to beat on that end can force Nagamura into defending Montero rather than entering the offensive flow, and Nate Jaqua can see runs off of him for Zakuani, Montero and the other of the three right sided players.
That's the weakness, and early is the best time to exploit. There is an oddness in the history of the two clubs this season. Chivas rarely leads at the half, instead taking a draw from the first 45 and then scoring in the second. Seattle on the other hand tends to score early with 7 in the first 30 minutes. Seattle tends to be the most aggressive in their first 30 while Chivas is most aggressive coming out of the second half. Chivas though gives up the most goals in the last 15, and Seattle gives their goals up in the last 15 of each half.
If the game is aggressive early, with the Rave Green running the quick transition ground based passing system this should lead to a win. Sounders are 4-0-0 when leading at the half and 4-0-3 when scoring first. The early goal is vital in this one.
But, with no Tyrone Marshall the ability of Kasey Keller to communicate with the backline will be tested. Ianni and Hurtado did start in front of Keller in the last Open Cup Qualifier, but that was at home. Now they are on the road in front of a crowd that is slowly increasing, 20k watched the loss to the Fire and with this match being an important conference clash between two teams with silverware on their mind and on a Saturday it should get that number again, even without Blanco in attendance.
Lastly, I feel bad for Steve Zakuani, as he is likely going to get hit hard in this match, and while I don't want him to be slated as a diver, both of the Goats' right sided players for this match are in danger of missing a match with another Yellow. Draw that card Zak. Not only will it help the Sounders in working on the setplay game (Chivas has given up 3 goals on the set) it will also force the Guadalajara Norte into continual absences.
Chivas top four offensive players are easy to see, and ALL are playing
Lillingston 4 1 9 645 1.26
Nagamura 4 1 9 945 0.86
Harris 2 2 6 732 0.74
Galindo 2 0 4 372 0.97
What do you think of the shift to the 4-2-3-1? How do you expect Montero to play as a CAM? Is this a winnable road match?