It's the most important match of the year, as they all are at this point in the season. The MLS Cup Playoffs are where champions are crowned. Seattle Sounders FC will have the opportunity in Leg Two of the Western Conference Semifinals with nearly a full selection available.
Andy Rose is still out with a knee contusion, but when the team is at full health Rose is in the 18, not a starter.
The starting situation comes down to the health of Gonzalo Pineda. The potential Newcomer of the Year is nursing a muscle injury, but he has practiced in full recently and could be selected.
Schmid says Sounders health remains good. Says Pineda has trained last few days, but doesn't commit to him as starter.— Don Ruiz (@donruiztnt) November 9, 2014
That makes the tough decisions in the midfield, a place where the decision process is as much tactical as it is for health and fitness.
Osvaldo Alonso will start. With Lamar Neagle healthy, Brad Evans recovered from the groin issue that caused an early exit against LA at the end of the season, Marco Pappa healthy but amazing as a sub and Pineda maybe not at full health Sigi has options.
Those three midfield spots have four starters. On the season the club essentially has 12 players in the Ideal XI. Scott clearly unseated the other non-Marshall CBs.
It's a tough matrix to solve without health data.
- Pappa is the most creative, serves a good dead ball and has a dangerous shot from distance. His defense is best as early pressure post turnover.
- Pineda can thread the best throughball, also is great with set-piece service, and is a typical box-to-box engine type who controls the pace of play.
- Neagle is the best traditional wide man of the bunch. He shoots well from distance and adds a direct aspect to the game. He's the second best defender of this group.
- Evans is the best defender by fair, whether in the air or on the ground. He works with Yedlin better than anyone else in the group. He is the captain whenever he's on the field. Coaches adore his understanding of the game.
The choice isn't easy, particularly because three of the players have recent injury concerns. This decision point will likely mean as much in the game as the need for FC Dallas to push for two goals.