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S before T - Hosting Toronto Keys to Game

If you've been reading this site you know this match has significant playoff implications. This is basically the 7th seed v the 10th seed. It is in essence a must win (remember those from early in the season?). A win could bump Seattle to 6th and a loss dropping them potentially to 10th (other matches matter as well).

With a healthy and non-suspended Seattle, and a slightly damaged and weakened Toronto squad, how does Seattle pull off the win against the 9th best road club?

How does Seattle's 9th best offense face Toronto's 11th defense?
How does Toronto's 7th best offense face Seattle's 2nd defense?

Seattle's midfield play - Toronto's width - Keller v Frei

The good news for Seattle is that they again play on their home pitch with its nice 75 yard width. This means more space for the dynamic wide midfielders and Montero. Seattle MUST take advantage. Whether Toronto plays its 4-3-3 or its 4-5-1 they tend to play a bit compact in the central third of the pitch. This gives Ljungberg and Zakuani space to operate on the flank, build up speed and run at Brennan (CMNT) and Wynne (USMNT). With the defensive roles taken by rookie Cronin and who knows who with Robinson out, Sounders FC should have an opportunity for Montero to capitalize. TWO-TOUCH it Fredy. Not one at distance, but two. Not three with too many step overs. Receive the ball and shoot. You will have that opportunity.

We also need to see secondary runs from Evans and Alonso in order to help draw the center of play towards Stefan Frei. While he may be the Rookie of the Year, he still deserves to be challenged. Lastly, when Leo and James can, they should get forward to either serve up to Jaqua or hit Zakuani/Ljungberg/Montero on diagonal runs from the near elbow. Though this will lead the Rave Green open to a counter, it is key for Seattle to establish its own pace to the match.

Toronto's Width
When Seattle's wingbacks go forward the Reds can try a quick counter built on the punt. This would be ideal for Seattle. Remember back in April, this was basically why Toronto lost. They bypassed the most talented midfield in the game and risked it on 50/50 balls.

This isn't that Toronto though. According to Duane Rollins (via email), Guevara (HMNT) is now playing more of a box-to-box role. The new Toronto club uses their skilled players, their young players, and with the ball at their feet not their heads. The new Toronto has De Ro (recent CMNT) as an MVP candidate. Toronto has the skill to bring the ball wide or narrow, and the technical abilities to capitalize.

With Brennan and Wynne as capable as Leo and Riley to get forward this will put pressure on the defensive triangle of Seattle. It is really two quite similar teams. Both will have a CB and DM sit back while as many as 7 players join on offense.

Keller v Frei
IF Seattle can dictate an up-tempo match that test the two keepers consistently it should win. Kasey Keller v Stefan Frei isn't a contest. All Star Keeper v the Rookie. #3 v #12. Seattle has to establish its will though, and make this the contest.

Toronto's midfield is as good as Seattle's, maybe better. Their forwards are decent. The backfield, capable, but a little lacking. Make it a contest of keepers though, and this isn't a match.

Notes

Toronto's Four Most Productive
De Rosario 1.09
Guevara 0.93
Barrett 0.66
Dichio 0.97

Toronto has done a great job of mixing in youth with its veterans. Recently recapturing a few native sons (De Ro, Gerba, White) they have a mix of U-25 guys supplemented by a few veterans. Overall though, this strategy is built for MLS considering its current status as a feeder league (see Edu). Seattle should do the same, there is no need for Seattle in 2010 to have Substitutes and Reserves past the age of 25.

Toronto fielded two Academy teams in 2009. Seattle needs at least ONE next season.

Roster deadline is Sept 15th and Seattle is still looking.

The First 90 on KJR-AM Seattle will feature Jose Romero, Don Ruiz and Dave Clark tomorrow. One of these things is not like the other, but is likely the reason you should listen. I will be on in the noon hour for a segment. Jose and Don will be on for the first 30 minutes - show starts at 11:30 AM.

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