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Keys to Game: Sounders at Red Bull

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Sure the game will be in a beautiful stadium, but it is unlikely to be a beautiful game. The Sounders have another starter injured (Alonso) and are also going to bench an off-form player or two, or maybe even three. As discussed earlier this week Red Bull is not playing as a cohesive unit.

While the Sounders surprised many by starting off worse than expected the Red Bull side with high churn, new Euro coach and the pressures of filling a new stadium have surprised by winning as much as they have so far. While I expect this match to settle both teams into their true talent level. The Sounders belong in the second tier, and so should the New York side based on their talent level.

How do the Sounders get three vital points on the road?

1 - Win the Set-Play Battle- The 2009 Sounders were a good set-piece teeam. This year their offense on the set is middle of the road and their defense has just struggled. Since so much of Red Bull's attack is from the set as 4 of their 8 goals are from the deadball it is key for the Sounders to defend properly and not let those leakers in as they have earlier this season.

On offense the Sounders will have to use the set-play to create opportunities. I don't care if it is a header on target, or as a pass to a teammate. I don't care if it is a low ball at the feet of a runner inside the 6. The fact is that the Sounders need to grab those opportunities and own them. If they had been scoring at least year's rate on the set they would be a decent middle of the pack MLS side right now.

2 - Challenge Bouna- Coundoul has been solid this year with about 80 minutes of good to spectacular a match, but he is prone to gaffs through his four plus years in the league. There's a reason why he has been a back-up for all but two of the five seasons. Sounders need to remind the league that Bouna Time is as much about his moments of amazing as it is about his miscues.

Maybe this seems repetitious, but the Sounders need to hammer the goal. The Red Bull defense is prone to giving up 6 SOG per match (Seattle only at 4 SOG) and so there should be plenty of opportunities even with Seattle's unconventional lineup. If Seattle converts at its standard rate they will get a goal. In fact a "typical" Sounders performance in these first two keys will result in 2 goals.

That's why these are the two primary keys.

3 - Release the Hounds - Red Bull just played an Open Cup Play-In match on Wednesday Seattle's typical lineup doesn't have the speed it likely will today, and it will be key for Seattle to push play through the faster players that will be on the pitch.

4 - Play the Full 90 - Or actually the full time between the whistles. Sure it is a trite marketing phrase, but we have all seen the potential victory and defeat from stoppage time.

5 - Stop the Two Man Game- Jeremiah noted it, but Red Bull is a two man attack right now. Seattle couldn't stop the Galaxy two man game, but today will need to stop Lindpere and Angel. Neither who are as good as the Donovan-Buddle pairing.

NOTES:

KONG has the TV in English.
KIRO FM has the radio in English.
THIS TV has the TV in Spanish
1210 AM has the radio in Spanish

Red Bull's attendance is up 72% this season, and yet does not approach capacity in their new palace. They are averaging 60% capacity.

Today Philly becomes the last team to host their second home match.