In their short MLS lives the Seattle Sounders have not succeeded in Texas (no wins yet), and the latest chance at changing that bit of history is Saturday's match against FC Dallas. The Toros set their own history Tuesday evening when they became the first MLS team to beat a Mexican team in competition on Mexican soil. They also have the little sub-headline of George John being courted by Blackburn Rovers of the EPL. He is unavailable for the match due to an Ejection (double Yellows) in the last match, so his play wouldn't effect this match.
With temperatures cooling from an afternoon high of 105 degrees Seattle's depth and lineup rotation will continue to be challenged. Schellas Hyndman has not used as much depth as Sigi Schmid, but did start a typical lineup in their historic win. It would seem likely that he will be counting on the fitness and acclimatization of his players. Daniel Roberston of Big D Soccer answers three questions concerning the hot Dallas side.
SaH: Brek Shea went from utility player to MVP candidate. How?
BDS: Well Shea started the season in the backline as an emergency because both Ugo Ihemelu and George John weren't 100% to start the season. It's pretty obvious to everyone why he was moved up the field and Dallas has lost just 3 times in MLS since he was moved to Left mid in the Portland away game. He's been an absolute terror to MLS defenses this season finally showing some consistency to go along with the enormous talent we all knew he had. Perhaps the best part is that FCD shrewdly signed him to a long term deal through 2015 in May meaning FCD has him locked up for awhile and likely at a decent salary cap price. We all expect him to move on to Europe but hopefully not before the end of next season after the goes to the Olympics.
SaH: Has Hyndman settled on a place to play Shea because he's hot, or is it because Shea is best suited for the left mid role?
BDS: Shea will always be the left mid for FC Dallas, or at least an attacking player. I would be flabbergasted to ever see him moved to the back line again, you simply can't argue with the overwhelming evidence on where he should play.
SaH: The George John & Ugo Ihemelu duo has been superb. Who slots in when John is out and how does that effect the rest of the backline?
BDS: Yeah it’s a big loss for FC Dallas to have George John out due to red card suspension. There’s a few different ways Schellas Hyndman can go with this one. One would be to move right back Zach Loyd into the center of defense and put Brazilian Jackson at right back. This seems to be the most likely option to me given that Marvin Chavez has moved back to right mid since the acquisition of forward Maicon Santos. The second option would be a straight swap of George John for rookie Bobby Warshaw. This was done in the Houston away game earlier this year but is probably the less likely option of the two. You never like to upset the back 4 combination, but at home these guys shouldn’t struggle too much. Kevin Hartman does a great job of organizing the backline no matter who it is.
SaH: With only 2 wins in their last 7 is Dallas cooling off?
BDS: I wouldn’t say that, I mean Dallas has played 12 games in the last 7 weeks in all competitions winning seven of them. Schellas doesn’t really do a great job of rotating the starters and reserves. It’s also been a very tough MLS schedule since the start of July with games against Columbus, RSL, New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia with only 1 of those at home. I don’t think Dallas is too worried by the recent MLS results, they’re winning in Champions League and Open Cup. The most important goal league wise is probably to finish as the #2 overall seed and this weekend’s game will go a hell of a long ways to decide which team gets that.
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BDS: What is the #churchoffucito and can you tell our readers a little more about this dude?
SaH: A generic soccer blogger started referring to fans of Mike Fucito as the Church of Fucito essentially mocking those who thought the former Harvard player was worthy of more MLS playing time. So we at Sounder at Heart grabbed onto that and started a non-faith based "church" of support for the diminutive, strong and speedy left-footed forward. Though he hasn't gotten the playing time that a vocal segment population of the fanbase feels he should he's scored 8 goals and 2 assists in all competitions over the past two seasons. That's in 24 appearances only 11 starts.
While his most successful moments have been in the CCL, you saw his strength as he caused George John and Jamison Olave problems in MLS starts back in the Spring. His lower center of gravity and powerful leaping ability ability actually make him a surprise threat in the box, but it is his speed, set-peice service and tenacity to put shots on goal that should earn him the playing time.
BDS: What kind of mix of starters and reserves did Seattle play on Tuesday against Comunicaciones and do you worry about fatigue going into Saturday?
SaH: Seattle has rotated a ton of players in and out of lineups this year due to injury, form and random Sigi Schmid decisions. OK, seemingly random... So even though some would look at the lineup and say that the Tuesday lineup was a mix of starters and regulars, it really just showed the depth of the team. Twenty players have 6 or more starts in all competitions this season. In that match there was an average of more than 14 starts per outfield player. This despite not starting Jeff Parke, Mauro Rosales, Erik Friberg, Tyson Wahl and
Mauro RosalesOsvaldo Alonso who will all play Saturday.
BDS: There seems to be a little bit of a budding rivalry between Seattle and FC Dallas, at least on the field, with some contentious games going all the way back to the 2007 USOC semifinal. What do you think is the general feeling of Seattle fans towards Dallas and do you feel a bit of an on-field tension brewing with Saturday's game then USOC semi-final and potentially a playoff matchup looming?
SaH: Old School Sounders fans certainly see this as a rivalry, but at this time it is really more on the pitch than anything else. After this year with even more matchups this may become more of a rivalry, just due to the number of likely games. But it won't approach the Cascadia with its 30+ years, and probably not even the LA Galaxy due to Seattle's opposition to So Cal, and that they have been a constant thorn.