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Sounders at Colorado Rapids: Three Questions

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday it was snowing in Denver. Friday could see tornadoes. Good news for Seattle Sounders fans is that Saturday at game time it is supposed to be above freezing and only a 30% chance of rain. That should make the game against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday at 6 PM tolerable (at least the weather). There's also decent news in that Clint Dempsey traveled; Brad Evans returned to practice; Gonzalo Pineda isn't suspended. Altogether it is a good weekend to get some road points.

jpatrickrosch from Burgundy Wave answers Three Questions.

SaH: Rapids went from scoreless streak of wonderment to a four goal outburst. How did that happen?

BW: The Rapids have been playing solid football all season and have been knocking on the door and have been stopped by either bad luck or superb goal keeping. It was never a matter of not creating chances....they just could not put the ball in the net. Against Dallas, they were able to shake the bad luck that had been plaguing them, and it was not a complete shock. The work that had been put in this season just had not paid off until the match in Frisco.

SaH: Picking up Marcelo Sarvas for nearly nothing was quite a coup. What does he mean to Colorado?

BW: Sarvas has been huge for the Rapids for a number of reason: 1) they lacked veteran leadership last year and a midfielder who was not afraid of getting physical and dirty when needed. He brings that to the club and it is clear it is working. In five games this year, the Rapids have four clean sheets and only 1 goal allowed from open play. 2) the Rapids have so many young players that are still learning their way in this league that a player like Sarvas is someone that will help mold and shape those players for the future. His impact cannot be understated and he has embraced being in Colorado.

SaH: Last year injury plagued a pretty decent team. This year the team added talent, but is still injured. Is there a curse?

BW: I don't think there is a curse, just a matter of discovering the identity of this team. In 2013, they were a playoff team for Oscar Pareja, and in 2014 (after Pareja left for Dallas) they were tying to figure out their new coach in Pablo Mastroeni and what brand of football he wanted to play. I think you are seeing that this year, and as this team develops under Mastroeni I think you will find the Rapids giving teams more problems than they did last year. I know that most of MLS will laugh at this, but this is a team that has a chance to make some noise this year.

Significant Absences:

This club is built on the "next man up" philosophy and is design to withstand absences. This club has started 8 different players along the backline and has given up the fewest goals in MLS. The point is, that although absences may occur for a variety of reasons, it should not change the overall quality of play. A total of 21 players have seen the pitch this year, and through that, the Rapids have lost only once.

Projected Lineup:

4-2-3-1: Clint Irwin, Marc Burch, Drew Moor, Bobby Burling, Michael Harrington, Lucas Pittinari, Marcelo Sarvas, Juan Ramirez, Dillon Powers, Gabriel Torres, Dominique Badji

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reverse

BW: The Sounders are (arguably) the best team in MLS, but have had a slower start this year. Why is this?

SaH: The cause for this year's slow start begins with Osvaldo Alonso and end with Osvaldo Alonso. While other players were missing due to injury or National Team call Ozzie's injury was for multiple games and the whole of preseason. A lot of what Sounders do is built around Alonso's fierce defense and his ability to quickly start attacks after winning the ball. Azira can fill in as a CDM, but he isn't the type to get the ball forward. Other injuries are a problem; playing without one of Dempsey or Martins is rough, but there's still the other one. Not having Alonso is something Seattle cannot afford.

BW: Seattle is generating the lowest numbers of shots in the league, but the fourth highest SOG. Is it a matter of creating chances, or are they just making the best of the chances they have?

SaH: When your two forwards are both MVP candidates it is easy to see why chance conversion is so high. Clint and Oba are extraordinary soccer players who mesh together quite well. What's hurting Seattle's offense is that the supporting cast of Neagle, Pappa and Barrett aren't putting themselves in dangerous places. Lamar looked much better against LA so the numbers should trend up. If they don't the stable of young guns (Mansaray, Jones, Kovar) will need to pull through.

BW: For Seattle....is it MLS Cup or bust this year? Or will ownership be OK with not winning the ultimate trophy in MLS?

SaH: Probably not. They've taken a rather rational view of things throughout their ownership. The point is to compete for every trophy with MLS Cup and CCL championship being the highest targets. If the Sounders are competitive but do not win they didn't fail and no one needs to get fired over it. The process will move right along and they'll continue to be the Atlanta Braves of MLS. Plus, the window on the talent likely has one more year after this. Next year is when it gets really interesting because so much of the starting XI will be past their prime by then.

Predicting Formation: Frei; Remick, Marshall, Evans, Mears; Neagle, Pineda, Alonso, Pappa; Dempsey, Martins

Predicted Score: 2-1 Seattle.

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