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Sounders vs. Red Bulls: Three Questions

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Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Healey and Taylor Twellman got jealous about all of Lalas and Strong's visits to wonderness that is Seattle. For that reason, and that reason alone, Sunday's match between Seattle Sounders FC and New York Red Bulls is the early nationally televised game and will be going on while the Mariners play (plan your transit accordingly). It's a 2 o'clock start when 4-2-5 +3 Red Bull hear the first whistle of their demise.

Jason from Once a Metro answers Three Questions so you can impress your friends.

SaH: There were questions if a team with BWP as its only star could succeed, but he's doing it all. How did BWP creative player come to be?

OaM: There were flashes on Wright-Philips' creative chops in 2014, they were just overshadowed by the name Thierry Henry. This year Jesse Marsch has asked him to take on more of a playmaker mode, and the skills have just become more evident. However, this use has come at a price. When the Red Bull offense runs into the offensive third, you can see BWP coming in behind the midfield. Lloyd Sam has also been cutting in and taking away space that BWP would occupy last year.

SaH: Klejstan is in the hole where a 10 would play, but isn't having the impact expected of the former National Team regular. What can be down to break him out?


OaM: Not play him as a #10, because he is not that type of player, he's actually more fit to be a #8 as he played during his time with Anderlecht. Felipe Martins and Kljestan should probably swap positions as both are better suited to the other's current role. Felipe is keen to get into the offense, leaving the defense more exposed as our defensive wings like to join the attack as well. Kljestan, and the Red Bulls, would benefit more from staying back and being an outlet to reset the offense while helping Dax McCarty protect the back line.

SaH: What can Red Bull do to keep Oba and Clint out of the danger area?

OaM: Right now, short of digging ditches at the edge of the 18-yard boxes forcing shots from far out? Maybe nothing. The Red Bulls' high pressure leaves them vulnerable to the counter. The defensive wings, like I mentioned earlier, like to join in the attack. With Felipe pushing up, it leaves Dax McCarty (who sometimes gets up as well), and the two center backs to fend for themselves. We don't have a ton of speed at the back to make up for it either, and with Seattle's passing abilities, they could easily break down the depleted back line and spring Oba or Dempsey.

Significant Absences: Matt Miazaga (US U-20s), Sal Zizzo (Leg Injury), Ronald Zubar (Doubtful - Quad)

Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1 L to R): Luis Robles; Kemar Lawrence, Damien Perrinelle, Karl Ouimette, Chris Duvall; Felipe Martins, Dax McCarty; Mike Grella, Sacha Kljestan, Lloyd Sam; Bradley Wright-Phillips

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OaM: Top of the table after Week 12, most goals scored, least conceded - what's to complain about in Seattle?

SaH: There's some questions about depth. The best third forward happens to be a regular wide midfielder. The best backup wide mids are forward Chad Barrett or center mids Andy Rose and Cristian Roldan. Considering that Clint Dempsey will probably be at the Gold Cup and Brad Evans might be there too that depth starts to become vital. Throw in injuries like the ankle thing plaguing Gonzalo Pineda and the US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League the Seattle Sounders can't be a team that's only 12 or 13 players deep. They'll need to go to 16 deep or more to have success in every tournament and the regular season. So far signs are pretty good, but there shouldn't be confidence in the depth, yet.

OaM: The Sounders are playing their third match in eight days. Will this have an impact on the squad?

SaH: The win Wednesday featured a lot of rotation. Rotational players started at left back, centerback, center mid and as one of the wide mids. Plus Obafemi took a couple weeks off with some thing called a tibulal contusion and didn't go 90. That should set Seattle up well to re-insert reigning Defensive Player of the Year Chad Marshall into the backline while slapping some speed out wide through Dylan Remick and/or Lamar Neagle. Pineda may not be back from his ankle issues. Overall, the squad is set-up well for this third match in the crowded week.

OaM: How has Seattle managed to be one of the better passing teams in recent MLS history?

SaH: Alonso and his center mid partner (Rose or Pineda) play really simple passes to each other as the rest of the offense gets set up. That might account for 5-10% of the passes the club has, so the numbers are slightly inflated. The rest of it is because without true wingers the Sounders will look for a quick strike counter to Dempsey/Martins and if it isn't there one or both drop back and create 4-5-1 or 4-6-0s in a possession mode. That central third possession isn't about a possession theory, but looking to create a rapid sequence that springs one of those two through a line or two. They play cycles of passes and bore defenders a bit. And then it gets funky. A tiny hole opens and they are off effectively creating the type of play that you see on a counter out of possession. It is not a possession style that climbs the field like rungs on a ladder, but instead one hovers patiently until it strikes like a cobra.

Significant Absences: Pineda is questionable. Martins broke his nose and may play with a mask.

Projected Lineup: Frei; Remick, Marshall, Evans, Mears; Roldan, Rose, Alonso, Pappa; Dempsey, Martins