Down a goal. Down a single goal at essentially half time. Ninety minutes to play. Possibly only 90 minutes of Sounders soccer left in this 2010 season. Ninety minutes, or 120, or penalties to join the other lower seeded teams and advance?
Previews and what not
Ignore History | Quotes and Such | Match Day Card Leg 2 | Cup odds entering the weekend | Violent Dema? | What Happened to Wide Play | Recap Leg One
How will the Sounders earn a two goal advantage on the road against the Los Angeles Galaxy team that was the best over the course of the regular season? Will they avoid their first stretch in 2010 of straight losses in all matches?
Unframing Zakuani - The young Congolese needs the ball at his feet with space in ideal circumstances, and while he didn't have that often during the last match, when he did there were still threats. With David Beckham and Sean Franklin framing him he didn't have the space to either get speed, nor to work triangles. Seattle tried to get around this by having Blaise Nkufo drift wide left which forced Franklin back or Gonzalez out of the box. While this helped it also meant that Seattle's best big threat wasn't around. Today maybe we can see a little bit of Jedi Fredy out on the left ready to slice his way at a defense from a different angle and allowing Zakuani to dive in at the elbow for a near post pass while Nkufo alertly prepares for the pass at the far post. Hopefully late running Osvaldo Alonso is around for shots from the top of the circle as well.
Right sided wide play - Regardless of who plays left back for the Galaxy they will sit off of Sanna Nyassi. While this allows him space to run, it allows that space into density as the Galaxy will use either Landon Donovan or Stephens at left mid to rapidly double. If Nyassi is baited he must effectively cross into the box rather than dribble into the coverage. If Donovan does not play wide this can allow James Riley to have his signature overlaps and crosses. Then the ability of Nyassi to dive at the elbow will have a wide option available. Arena's choices in formation and lineup will foce the play of Nyassi and Riley. The choices there can shift the balance on that side of the pitch.
Set Play Defense - Since the Galaxy will likely bunker and counter their offense will either come from wondergoals (hello Edson Buddle), brilliance of Landon Donovan, or lastly the set-play. Regardless of your thoughts concerning Mr David Beckham, he is still one of the best men in serving the long ball in the game. Not in the league, but still one of the tops in the game. Seattle can not afford to relapse into its early season failures, but instead has to be the team it has been for 20 or so MLS matches - solid, strong and alert.
Return of the Jedi - Remember last week's Halloween induced theme? Well, Seattle has a player of great powers, who while still learning is clearly one of the best in this league. He has been held in check for too long, and it is now time for his story to return. A divine performance tonight can be his rise into prominence past just the local Seattle scene, but into fame on his national team and demands for his service outside of our little Endor like wetlands. Fredy Montero can declare himself on ESPN.
Seattle may have to experiment with different tactics than we have seen recently. If they need goals late we will likely see not just a replacement of tired scorers with fresh, but could we see a return to attempts at a 4-3-3 from early in the season? In attack this may even show up like the old 2-3-5 as the Sounders press.
Down a goal. Ninety minutes to play. Will today be a dark comedy or stuff of legends?
ESPN has the TV
KTTH (770 AM) has Arlo White on Radio
This is your gamethread
Tonight's beer is WinterHook by Red Hook. Tonight's scarf is the split logo made famous by Steve Zakuani on draft day almost two years ago. Rave Green for the kit.