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Preview: Sounders host Red Bull New York

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Red Bull had a very bad year. Their head coach, sporting director and other personnel people were fired, and they were a team that demands roster churn. The club followed through. Bringing in Backe to coach is a move that Freddie Ljungberg really liked, having previously suggested him for coach of Sweden.

The New York side brought in around a dozen players who weren't on the side last year. Some are MLS vets like Carl Robinson, formerly of Toronto, others are highlighted by first week game winner Joel Lindpere as their attacking midfielder.

I expect to see a conservative organized side that plays for the tie, as does Once a Metro. How will the Sounders beat the side that Sigi commends for its discipline?

 They’re a team that defensively there’s a lot more structure and cohesion in their game. Their roles have been defined pretty well for their players. I think that helped them in game one. They played a very organized, well managed game.

Likely starting lineups -

Sounders

 

 

Montero

 

 

 

 

Ljungberg

 

 

Zakuani

 

 

 

Levesque

 

 

Evans

 

 

 

 

Alonso

 

 

Gonzalez

 

 

 

Riley

 

Hurtado

 

Marshall

 

 

 

Keller

 

 

I expect that Levesque gets the start again. Those two misses from close range were not typical, and if he hits even one all the questions about Sounders finishing would be moot. But he's got Noonan, Nyassi (who did in fact score) and Fucito breathing down his neck for the rest of the April starts.

Ljungberg is one of those talents that doesn't need to practice, and if he's even 80% he should get the start. With the recent added depth you can expect that if his back is tweaked they will use the sub, but at the same time the team is just much better with him on the pitch.

Red Bull

  Angel   Kandji  
         
Borman   Lindpere   Stammler
         
    Richards    
Miller        
  Petke   Ream Hall
    Coundoul    

This is the expected formation over at Once a Metro. There is some thought out there that Angel may not go. The myth that Qwest's Turf may injure him persists. For once I want that myth to be believed. JPA has completely dominated this league. If you remember the name Miller, that's because he's the Left Wingback that Sounders wanted, but due to a lack of medical benefits for an unmarried significant other did not sign here. A year later he's in MLS.

Keys to Match

1 - Use the Left Side Speed- Sure, its expected after Zakuani's great game last week, but neither Stammler nor Hall can stop him. This will force Red Bull to pull their Defensive Mid over, or their Centerback. As the Sounders flood the box with 3 or 4 players during run of play someone will be open. Zakuani will also be able to hit Gonzalez on an outside overlapping run as he creates more space. The speed should be able to break down the defensive cohesion of what is nearly an expansion side.

2 - Test Coundoul Often- He's a keeper prone to bad moments and spectacular ones as well. But even in one match there is a mix of both. If Seattle gets more than 8 shots on goal they are bound to put a couple in the net. Many in the MLS blogging community were stunned when Busch didn't get picked up by Red Bull, and it is up to the top teams in the league to prove to Red Bull that Coundoul is only adequate.

3 - Be Wary of the Right Sided Counter- Miller and Gonzalez have very similar games. Both attack well from the defensive line, and with Seattle having a forward at their left mid (no matter who starts) and James Riley regularly entering the attack there will be some space their. If Angel plays it will be Alonso's job to stop the right side counter. If Angel doesn't play than Hurtado will be able to do it, as their isn't any offensive player that needs to be marked.

Notes
Match is on Fox Soccer as the national game this weekend. Arlo White will have play-by-play on 97.3 FM.

There will be a Sounder at Heart pre-game function at Elysian Fields in the First Ave side private room.

BayAreaRefugee will be hosting today's GameThread from the George and Dragon. Buy him a pint if you see him.

It is going to be cold and wet. Be ready for it.