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Lineup Lessons From Open Cup To Carry To MLS Play?

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June 26, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; Seattle Sounders starting eleven before the game against the San Jose Earthquakes at Kezar Stadium. The Seattle Sounders defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
June 26, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; Seattle Sounders starting eleven before the game against the San Jose Earthquakes at Kezar Stadium. The Seattle Sounders defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

One of the things that Sigi does a couple times a year is put out a lineup that makes little sense to outside observers. Against the San Jose Earthquakes the biggest surprise was either the forward pairing or a right side that was built of Cordell Cato and Brad Evans. When asked about why the overall lineup was built he said "we decided to go with a lineup that was a little bit bigger, a lineup that we felt could hold up to that play and on the same token, not play guys who physically would put themselves in big jeopardy if they had to play."

A fallout from that decision was to play Zach Scott at centerback and grab height at right back through Evans. Before the Sounders add a player or two in the currently open transfer window it would be unlikely to see Evans at Right Back, particularly since on the conference call Sigi indicated that Adam Johansson is likely to see time this weekend against the New England Revolution. There was really only one space in the XI where Seattle gave up height and that was with Cato.

Considering the Sounders are without Fredy Montero and previous looks at a two bigs type of lineup haven't worked well there is a chance that Cato's performance gives Sigi the option of putting Mauro Rosales up top. While his performances at the point of the diamond haven't been great, the more forward setting and scoring nature of the withdrawn forward actually takes advantage of one of Cato's skills - the low, fast cross.

Sigi talked about the way Evans and Cato worked together, and it was not the usual technique that the RB and RW use in Seattle, but it worked because of other components. "Brad did a good job of finding, not sometimes Cato," Coach Schmid explains, "but sometimes [Sammy] Ochoa who could then slip Cato in on that right side" That's a technique that can be used with Eddie Johnson or Ochoa.

As happened in the Open Cup game Cato can then flash inside at tight angles using his speed and ball work to create the space for a shot, or as we've seen at earlier Open Cup and Reserve games he can slap the cross in to the feet of a team with forwards that are almost all better with feet than head. While Alex Caskey is getting more time in MLS play, Cato gives a more like for like choice on the right side.

One of the less appreciated portions of Cato's game is his ability with the ball, combine that with a surprisingly strong low frame and he's a capable player even without his speed. But of course, he has that speed. Coach Schmid relayed that Cordell's slow start was a bit due to an early injury.

Now we may just see a bit more of the youngster. His ability to punish teams for sitting off of him playing just the speed will be a key to him getting more time. Seattle already helped one young man through that same developmental process, Steve Zakuani. Zakuani is someone else we could see in the 18 again soon.

Note: Michael Gspurning was downgraded to Out because he's actually still out, though he's made significant progress there's still no chance that he'll play.