Hurtado is out due to his Card situation. Now today we find out that Marshall and Graham are out as well.
So the Sounders in their quest for their first Cup in year one MLS have a significant situation. Three of their four CB are out, the central midfield has passing issues and the Interchange is broken. On top of these issues a team that is nominally better than they, and with a more significant history (12 Trophies as an MLS team v 7 trophies as a USL/ALeague team) stands in their way.
The environment will be hostile, of the original clubs DC is probably the best for having supporters and not just fans. Tomorrow at 4:30 PM Pacific Seattle Sounders will do something they have not done before, they will take the pitch with an out of position defender, or a three man back line.
What is the solution?
Yep, that's me suggesting that Zach Scott start at centerback and that both Montero and Jaqua sit.
The issues with the suggestion come in thee parts.
Leo, Riley and Ianni are all obvious. The only discussion is about Scott v Wahl. Based on Scott's performance against Barcelona, his +/- per 90 and his history with the Open Cup the weight has to be on his capable shoulders. Since Scott's defense is based on positioning and attitude more than footspeed he should be a solid fill-in CB. His performance in the early season when healthy earned him a Plus/Minus per 90 of 0.91. The highest of any player on the squad.
This is where people will likely call me crazy, but after seeing Alonso in strong attacking role for those last 30 minutes it would makes sense to get him involved again. He also knows DC better than most players on this team from his performance at RFK in the Open Cup Final last year. The only question was hot to keep he and Evans on the pitch but in Central Midfield roles. For me that means a 4-3-3 (in the 4-1-2-3 mode).
Peter Vagenas is the only one to slot in that defensive role. With two solid tactical outlets forward and two wide he shouldn't have that pass-back tendencies that the 'net have labeled him, but more crucial is that he is a better defensive mid than King.
If the Interchange doesn't work, if the Freddyain can't play centrally at the same time, if Sebastien Le Toux is one of the best active players in the US Open Cup the real issue is how to play the maximum talent possible to win this one match. This isn't a change for the future, but for now.
Zakuani needs to stay in for the offensive speed and his knowledge of a three man front. Ljungberg needs to be central but as a forward because in his best matches and best efforts have been in that role. As he would play flexible in that free ranging spot it is even better considering that he has rest for the next two full weeks.
DC United will be in a 3-5-2. This alone would test Sounders FC, but with the speed of the Rave Green wingbacks they should be able to handle the wide play of United. The real key is controlling the center, something that Seattle does better with Alonso and Evans side by side. With Vagenas the next most tactically sound player also in a central role United's options would be rather clogged.
Offensively Sounders would have a 3 v 3 opportunity. Two fast players, two technically skilled players, two players with great work rate. Sure, each of Zakuani, Le Toux and Ljungberg lack in one of those attributes they would still be able to test United in ways that most teams couldn't.
Honestly, surprise is a part of it. It would be a departure, and risk. I would do it.
The team flew a charter and ALL of their players. Not just the 18. This is unique in MLS, but expected a bit in a Cup Final. They can only take one more charter this season. Sounders will be flying into Boeing Field early Thursday morning (2A-3A) if all works as it should.
I will be watching at Fado. Because they are close to work, but also because they sent Steve Clare to the Final.
The 4-3-3 as outlined v a 4-1-3-2 totals 0.99 more +/- per 90. 5.77 to 4.78. Seriously, the offense and defense should be better.
Seattle has four healthy players with Cup Final experience. Alonso, Riley with one. Jaqua with two. Vagenas with four.
Only four Cup Finals have had more than 10,000 in attendance. The top number was 19,164 back in 2000.
Bonus points to whoever finds the date I put together that lineup by the way.