FC Dallas has 10 home wins. That's a big number, but it is also a number fueled by success against the mid and bottom-table teams. The toros have just a single win against a Sagarin top-5 team. Like RSL they are trying to avoid the play-in round, with its extra match midweek. With their current health concerns (Castillo, Diaz out this week) Dallas can't afford an extra match. Sounders FC are on short rest, but seem to be healthier now than they were in the loss to Red Bull.
Wachhz from Big D Soccer answers Three Questions to get you read for the match.
SaH: How can a team be so good at attacking set-pieces, but bad at defending them?
BDS: FC Dallas hasn't always been so bad. Injuries have played a large part in it this year. Zach Loyd is a natural right back, but he has done well to step up and cover in central defense. He is not as tall as many other centerbacks, but he makes up for that with his speed and intelligence, his ability to read the play. However, when defending set pieces, Zach's 5'9" leaves a little defensive gap compared to George John's 6'3" frame. It can't all be blamed on physical limitations, however. This season's injuries have seen substantial minutes given to inexperienced youth. These opportunities are fantastic for long term development, but they are not without their growing pains. The homegrown players have combined for 52 games played between them this year, much less rookies like Nicholas Walker, Ryan Hollingshead, and Walker Zimmerman. They are learning from every minute played. Despite the success FCD has achieved, this is a rebuilding year, and the defense will improve over time.
SaH: Michel lines up all over the place. Where's he most suited, where is he most likely to play?
BDS: Supposedly, he is a natural left back. However, he has done better for FCD in offense than defense. He's scored a number of goals on set pieces with his accuracy and ability to punch through an opponent's wall. He will likely start in midfield. He does alright for us there, but he is always suspect for a couple of bad turnovers. I will say, though, he has held the ball under pressure better recently.
SaH: Tesho Akindele took a starting role this Summer and looks like a possible Rookie of the Year. Tell me stories.
BDS: Tesho was selected in the first round of the Super Draft from the Colorado School of Mines. An unusal soccer program for MLS, but Oscar Pareja saw Tesho play a few times when he was coaching the Rapids the past two years. OP says that he knew Tesho had something special about him and could translate well to MLS. Tesho has formed an unlikely partnership with Blas Perez. His ability to read the game and anticipate has paired well with Perez's hold up play.
It's probably too early to tell, but there has already been a little bit of international buzz surround the rookie. He could see a call up if his form continues through his sophomore year in the league. He is originally from Calgary, Canada but spent most of his childhood in the Denver area. He is eligible for US citizenship soon. Hopefully he is able to excel with either the US or Canada. I hope we don't get in to another Teal Bunbury situation.
Projected Lineup: Fernandez, Hernandez, Loyd, Hedges, Acosta, Michel, Ulloa, Watson, Escobar, Perez, Akindele
BDS: With USOC trophy in hand, Seattle is looking like the team to beat. Does this year's run feel like a true team effort or is it down to a handful of key players?
SaH: It's a team effort. There are five players who should hit 10 goals in all competitions. Let's take it by component. Yes, the forwards are lead by Dempsey and Martins, but the bench there is Cooper and Barrett who are both having fine seasons. In the midfield two of the following get to sit - Evans, Pappa, Neagle, Pineda and Rose - Alonso always starts. The defense is the one area where things are stable except in case of injury. The core of Gonzalez, Scott, Marshall and Yedlin is solid, and the primary backups of Traore and Anibaba both have significant MLS experience. With Frei that's 17 guys that are keys to the team. Sure, three are DPs, and there's an HGP, and some national team players, and those stars are still stars, but they have a lot of help on this deep squad.
BDS: I'm asking both teams: how do you think the final 2-week showdown with LA Galaxy ends? Who takes the Supporter's Shield and why?
SaH: Seattle will win the Shield because I live in optimism. That optimism is powered by Sigi not doing any silly rest things, significant injury coming nor players just quitting on the year. They've got one trophy and can get another with just a strong performance against the Galaxy. Plus, beating out LA for the Shield means that they avoid them in the first round of the Playoffs and I need that. I couldn't deal with some stupid scenario of LA and Seattle as the 2/3 and getting forced to watch the same team four times in four weeks.
BDS: There was a profile on Fredy Montero on MLSSoccer.com Monday morning, and DeAndre Yedlin is already sold to Tottenham. Seattle is pumping out talent, so who do you think is the next player that the FO will struggle to hold on to?
SaH: Meet Jordan Morris. Yes, I'm saying that the next big thing in American soccer, in Sounders soccer, isn't even a pro yet. Even if he doesn't sign with Sounders, it will be because they had competition from some pretty decent Euro club. If they do sign him and he does what he's done since he was a junior in high school to this his sophomore year at Stanford he will not stay in MLS long. He's good. He's homegrown. And he won't be here long, if at all.
Projected Lineup: Frei; Gonzalez, Scott, Marshall, Yedlin; Pappa, Rose, Alonso, Evans; Dempsey, Martins