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Dissecting possible Sounders lineups

The Seattle Sounders are two games into the most crowded section of their 2012 schedule. They've already passed tests in Chicago and against LA, but they have three more matches by next Sunday, and two more before the end of the month. That includes Seattle's closest Western Conference competitors Salt Lake and Vancouver, as well as Dallas, Philadelphia, and Chivas. The next three games in particular will require some creative roster maneuvers to keep everyone healthy, while still trying to claim the nine points that are up for grabs.

I was somewhat surprised at how many minutes Sigi played the regulars against the Galaxy yesterday. The concern is that there will be some tired legs or an excessive number of reserves in at least one of these matches. The most difficult match of the three would seem to be Salt Lake based on their points per game. The Union are only looking at a single point per match, and will be without coach Peter Nowak for his part in a mid-game fight a few weeks ago. FC Dallas hasn't won in three weeks.

Below is a list of the Sounders that have played significant time in the last two matches.

John Kennedy Hurtado, 180 minutes

Jeff Parke, 180 minutes

Leonardo Gonzalez, 180 minutes

Osvaldo Alonso, 180 minutes

Brad Evans, 180 minutes

David Estrada, 180 minutes

Fredy Montero, 180 minutes

Eddie Johnson, 170 minutes

Michael Gspurning, 135 minutes

Mauro Rosales, 125 minutes

Adam Johannson, 90 minutes

Zach Scott, 90 minutes

Marc Burch, 55 minutes

Alonso has played every minute of every match so far. He needs a day off one of these games. This weekend versus Philadelphia might not be a bad time to do it. The following week in Dallas may be smart as well. Either way, I'm sure Schmid will want Alonso at full fitness against Salt Lake a week from Saturday. He may very well play all 90 minutes in every match this month, but it would seem prudent to be careful with Seattle's most important player, especially when he took such a "shot" early in the Galaxy match. He is the Honey Badger, but sometimes, he does care.

Also in need of a day off are both of our central defenders. I was shocked when both Hurtado and Parke were announced as part of the starting 11 against the Galaxy. Clearly I underestimated Ianni's back injury. Looking at the roster from Wednesday, Johannson and Burch were the only defenders available on the bench. Which begs the question; what does Seattle do if Parke or Hurtado get hurt? Right now, Ianni is Seattle's most important reserve player, and he almost has to play some minutes in these coming games. Our defense will not continue to post shutouts if Partado (TM) have to play every minute.

The situation at forward is more fluid. There is depth, and players that haven't barely spent time on the field. This is a good time to give Cordell Cato and Sammy Ochoa longer looks. Halftime subs in lead situations would give those players some needed experience as the Open Cup approaches while also keeping Johnson and Montero fresh for upcoming games against stingy defenses.

This strategy should also be used in the midfield, as Fernandez returns, Rosales attempts to build on his fitness, and Evans just attempts to stay on the field. Sivebaek should make a start, and an early sub in or two for Caskey would be prudent.

Theoretical lineups:

vs Philadelphia

GK: Bryan Meredith

RB: Adam Johannson

RCB: John Kennedy Hurtado

LCB: Patrick Ianni

LB: Marc Burch

RM: Christian Sivebaek

CDM: Osvaldo Alonso (sub Carrasco)

CM: Brad Evans

LM: Alvaro Fernandez (sub Estrada)

WFW: Fredy Montero

FW: Sammy Ochoa, Roger Levesque (sub Johnson)

vs Dallas

GK: Michael Gspurning

RB: Zach Scott

RCB: Patrick Ianni

LCB: Jeff Parke

LB: Leo Gonzalez

RM: Mauro Rosales (sub Sivebaek)

CDM: Osvaldo Alonso

CM: Alex Caskey

LM: Estrada (sub Fernandez)

WFW: Cato (sub Montero)

FW: Eddie Johnson

vs Salt Lake

GK: Michael Gspurning

RB: Adam Johannson

RCB: John Kennedy Hurtado

LCB: Jeff Parke

LB: Leo Gonzalez

RM: Mauro Rosales (Sub Burch)

CDM: Osvaldo Alonso

CM: Brad Evans

LM: Alvaro Fernandez

WFW: Fredy Montero

FW: Eddie Johnson (sub Sammy Ochoa)

This roster finds rest for every player while still fielding a threatening lineup. This is the last time they'll have five games in such a short amount of time, at least when it comes to MLS play by itself. If Open Cup and Champions League force further congestion, this sort of lineup shuffling should keep the roster healthy.

More Seattle sports news and commentary can be found at my blog,

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