Seattle travels down to the Bay Area to face San Jose for the third match this season with the Heritage Cup on the line, while many would think this is a match made for victory it is not. What it is is an average home team hosting an average road team. While victory is necessary to continue pressuring the top of the table, San Jose's 14 points in 18 played should be ignored.
Instead the focus should be on their solid wing players of Darren Huckerby and Bobby Convey and how they feed addition Cornell Glenn and likely starter Ryan Johnson (listed as Questionable). As fans we should also note that San Jose is trying to repeat their midseason rebuild of last year. Adding Sanchez and Glenn from the international ranks and trading for Wondolowski puts the offense in transition means that the attacking core of the team really only has Corrales (also Questionable) and Johnson as players experienced in Yallop's system (most recently a 4-4-2).
This provides ample opportunity for Osvaldo Alonso and Brad Evans to do what they do best
- win the ball and immediately transition to attack. With Ljungberg out there are many options that Sigi has in replacement. Personally, I don't expect to see Evans at RM and Sturgis as the CM. San Jose is prone to defensive lapses and so playing a Nyassi or Le Toux out right would be able to capitalize, while also integrating Evans back into the team after the 2nd place finish in the Gold Cup.
If, Sigi goes with a combination of three of the following four center mids (Alonso, Evans, Sturgis, Ianni) it would mean that James Riley will fuel the attack on the right wing. It would also harm the team's use of the interchange on the right side. Montero and Jaqua can't flip with Evans in his right defensive role, it doesn't make sense. While Evans has been decent in attack can you really see him in the forward role for 10+ minutes at a time?
I would even go so far to say that if the lineup includes Alonso, Sturgis and Evans it would be more a 4-3-3 with Zakuani playing a classic Henry-esque Left Wing. This may be more likely if they feel that Leo Gonzalez is already in tune enough with the team as each of the full backs could then get forward. It would be a highly flexible system that Sigi could use whenever either of the Freddyain are out, because both look very good as Right Wings.
Post-match it will be intriguing to see how to best describe the formation and style that Sigi uses at Buck Shaw tomorrow.
In league play on Saturday things should continue to sort out again. With five teams now having a decent shot at the Supporters Shield it is a day to have football on the telie, that is if you aren't at the Arab festival at the CenterHouse, or Hydro qualifying on Lake Washington, or at the swimming pool, or whatever.
It may in fact be best to just check the scoreboard this evening. DC at Houston is the most important match, United tie way too often, but if they can win today that could pull the Dynamo down into ties with C-Bus and Seattle.
Again, putting an expansion club in position to win the three major trophies available to an American MLS club in any given year at Match Day 19 isn't supposed to be easy, but a win Sunday is necessary for it to happen.
Lastly, there are just two weeks left in the secondary window for MLS (ends Aug 15) and six weeks until playoff rosters are set (trade/free agent deadline).