Tuesday nights 7 PM Pacific game in CONCACAF Champions League action can lock up the knockout stages for the Seattle Sounders with just a draw. For CSD Comunicaciones of Guatemala it is nearly a must win to force deep tie-breakers or count on Herediano causing Monterrey troubles. The Sounders own the all time series by goal differential (+1), as each team has a win at home. That last Sounders at Comunicaciones game was in 1997 and is meaningless coming into this match, but a strong historical footnote.
The last match between the sides saw the Rave Green put up three goals on their own and got a bonus goal from the other side. They came from behind, which seems a familiar refrain and did it while down a man. In a way it was coming out party for Mike Fucito. This may be cause for some to think that the Guatemalan side is weak.
And that would be right. They've only scored 3 goals in their last 5 matches in all competitions on their way to a 2-2-1 record. It doesn't get much better if you only focus on league play where they are 2-1-2 with a +2 GD with only one of those games scoring more than once. Their attack is has three prongs with their goal scorer against Seattle (Jairo Arreola) from midfield and two forwards that can be potent - Carlos Andres Ramirez Silva and Transito Montepeque. Their defense is prone to giving up a goal a game. They attack quickly with most goals in the first half, but have a history of going dry in the second half, until the waning moments.
Seattle will be without Patrick Ianni due to accumulation. They have plenty of options with them. Due to the long road trip most players have traveled to Guatemala. Fucito can be expected to start as he was held out against the Whitecaps, and we may see the return of Erik Friberg. The only men in the typical rotation that won't see time are James Riley (concussion, joining team in New England) and Mauro Rosales (MCL sprain). A likely backline should look very similar to the one that just won the Cascadia Cup. Lamar Neagle likely starts as he didn't finish the game Saturday night and he may be just a bit hungrier after the red card from the last meeting.
It is key that Sigi's men hold fast during an early flurry and give up a goal at most. Over the final 60 minutes Seattle is stronger, scoring over 75% of their goals in that stretch. They are a team that when down a goal is more likely to earn a point than not going 5-6-3 in MLS (1.29 ppm) games where they've given up the first goal.
In a season that has pleasantly surprised fans by overcoming a deep wound early, the team can lock their path towards the CCL Championship with merely a draw. With a favorable result in the Monterrey (can't win) v Herediano match the Sounders can win the group as long as they don't use. Making Round 6 of the Groups a meaningless game would give Seattle a breather in their packed October, expect them to be even hungrier than usual.