The Rave Green and Safety Orange face off in an early Saturday match this week. More than 32,000 fans will be present when the #3 hosts the #1 team as Seattle fans and the team have had to travel a whopping 30 miles this week (Tukwila for the Open Cup) the Houston Dynamo put about 4,500 miles on their air mile cards.
As the Gold Cup continues Seattle deals with the loss of Tyrone Marshall and Brad Evans. Normally missing two of the central players would be a huge drop, but at the least it would seem that Patrick Ianni is certain to start at the Centerback, with Stephen King likely to slot directly in for Evans. While there are other ways to replace Evans, most would involve further play of Zakuani or Le Toux, both who are a bit knocked.
But the regional championship is going to hurt Houston much worse than Seattle.
They will be without target forward Brian Ching, center attacking midfielder Stuart Holden and rotational fullback Andrew Hainauilt. They do have the good fortune to retain Ricardo Clark in his center defensive mid role for this week. But their good fortune ends there.
Yellow card accumulation has hit the Orange. Both of their centerbacks will be serving a suspension this week and get the pleasure of enjoying the atmosphere at Qwest from the bench, for their sake I hope not in suits. Its going to be hot. When I say both of their centerbacks, I mean the ONLY two that have starts in league play in center defense - Bobby Boswell and Geoff Cameron. They lost their other rotational CB back before the season even started. The patch work backline will be James, Mulrooney and former Huskies Waibel and Chabala. That's just 8 starts for the season on the backline. Less than 1,000 minutes of play in league play. Injury has taken out wingback Wade Barrett.
This is a match where the Rave Green with their swapping technique should be able to maximize inexperience. The ability of the Freddyain, Jaqua, Zakuani and Le Toux to all play mixed roles either up top or out wide provides First Asst. Brian Schmetzer with a great technique to challenge the communication of the Houston defense. Pat Onstad must be challenged heavily. He must be tested.
Seattle's passing ability needs to force Onstad to be constantly guessing at what angle the shot comes towards goal. The Sounders are tops in the league for assists per game (nearly 2 per), but we also need to see Shots become Shots on Goal.
Houston's offense will be powered by Kei Kamara with his PP90 at 0.72 and Brad Davis at 0.74. While locking in on only two players would normally be a mistake, the injuries (Cam Weaver is out) and call-ups force Houston's powerful offense will be both weary and forced into inexperienced players starting. Seattle has beaten several reserve heavy sides in Open Cup play, and now have the good fortune to face another one, but in league play.
Seattle has the #2 offense at home and #2 defense facing Houston's healthy road production of #3 offense, #2 defense. This should have been the match of the week. But I will thank the Fates, and so should you.
This is a match where the potential for the playoffs in year one can nearly be locked. The potential swing is 12% at SportsClubStats. It is a match where the Sounders can grab destiny with their two hands and pull it North and West, forcing it into a Green-Blue-Green kit.
That right there is Houston's offense at its best. Right up the middle, out wide quickly and then crossed in for a header. It is Kinnear's system, no matter who plays and while they don't have the quality in those positions this week, they still have capable players in each slot. In MLS 2.0 there hasn't been a better team, while they haven't been as good as DC United in the 90s they do have 2 MLS Cups while in Houston, and though the league didn't let them keep their performance from San Jose, they also won 2 MLS Cups and a Supporters Shield there with many of the same front office staff.
Sigi is out this weekend for his son's wedding and a visit to the White House, so USL Sounder Brian Schmetzer takes over for the match.
Freddie Ljungberg returns to play after two weeks of rest.
I was elected to the Alliance Council this week and spent a ton of time getting up to speed on that, forgive me for the lack of posting. You should see my bio up at SoundersFC.com soon. I'm now carrying both the duty of that position and the passion of posting here. I will discover a balance.
I still strongly recommend wearing sunscreen. The burn can take several days to fade away.
Arlo White is calling this match, so it might be a good one to DVR if you want to listen to something different.