Today's lineup is going to be a bit odd, a twist on what was expected, or in this case, something no one expected. Dallas is a team that is in pure struggling mode. They stuggled on the pitch, and they struggle in the stands. The wonders of the Thursday 5PM start time have compressed things for me a bit, so today I'm getting you the keys to the game right in the gamethread.
1 - Sounders Coaching - Sigi has made a significant shift to the lineup and this will be a test not just for the players inserted, but also of the coaching staff. The offense that is appearing has little time together, and so the knowledge fo the system will be more important than anything else. With a shift like this it will also be important to see how long a leash the coaches give the players.
With the game at Toronto coming up shortly the bench in both matches is likely to get more time. We could see a 55 minute sub, and are nearly certain to see two subs by the 75th minute. One of those subs will need to be for a regular starter if they are to be expected to go significant minutes against the Reds.
2 - Midfield Control - The two overlapping lineups create potential for either, or both, teams to flood the midfield, or just give up on controlling that and trying for the long ball game. Only Dallas' Cunningham won't get back, and both of their wingbacks come forward quite a bit. Seattle is very similar at times, though sometimes the wide mids for Seattle just play as forwards.
Positionally this could mean that Seattle will have only Alonso and Evans in the central third with no space because the Hoops flood the area with five players. Or it could mean that both sides flood the central third and we will have to see a lot of 10 yard passes to break through the clutter. I don't expect to see either side with one of the dozen plus shot games with seven corners. This will be a midfield battle.
3 - Defensive Awareness - Coming right out of that will mean that there will be occaissional long balls poked out of the midfield scrum. If a side has a centerback caught napping that will almost certainly wind up a goal. But let's also remember that defensive mistakes by the Sounders on two set-plays left 3 points sitting on the table. Two errors are the difference between Seattle being one of many and clearly the second best team in the league.
A road win here, even against a generally perceived as weak Dallas, will help establish Seattle as a contender rather than just another Playoff side.
ESPN2 has the game in the rare time that Seattle is on the road. No radio tonight, if you want Arlo White you will have to stream on MyNorthWest.com.
Fucito's availability is a game-time decision.
BayAreaRefugee is at the George & Dragon. I'm watching at home as your host for the gamethread.