Both sides in Saturday night's 5:30 PM match are depleted due to injury and international callup. Since the Chicago Fire are merely 4-9-3 -6 on the season, the lack of usual starters like Maloney and Larencowitz puts them in a poor positions. Seattle Sounders are also down, missing two DPs, their starting keeper, a starting CB and their most creative non-DP. But, Seattle has never lost to Chicago, that's unusual in MLS over this period of time.
JOEtv is carrying the 5:30 match in Seattle.
Sean answers Three Questions, including one inspired by the United States Women''s National Team. You can normally read Sean at Hot Time In Old Town where he spends as much time burning the Fire as his opponents.
SaH: Which Red Star, and why?
HTIOT: Ok, so, North American football aficionados have all seen vintage Thierry Henry, right? Now look at Christen Press and think about Thierry Henry.
She's 26 - about the age Henry went from 'good forward for good team' to 'transcendant, game-breaking genius.' And she has the same glide, the same functional efficiency when a chance is nearby, the same loping dominance in pursuit of the group goal. If you loved Henry, you owe it to yourself to love Press.
But if I were to put a Red Star on the Fire, it's obviously (OBVI) gotta be Julie Johnston. I mean, Fire are leaking goals, she's the breakout defensive star of the World Cup - it's not like it's some kind of scouting miracle to call for Johnston's inclusion.I'm not even joking when I say that, if I were in there, I'd offer her a look - and take her performance in camp seriously. The men's and women's games are going to converge over time; Johnston's ability to play around trouble could put her in defensive midfield, too.
SaH: Maybe I'm missing something but the only regular defender I recognize is former defensive mid Jeff Larentowicz. Who put the defense together like this and why?
HTIOT: ahhhh hahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahaha ahahahahahahahaha a ahahahahahahah a ahahhahaha hahahahhaahha
Uhh, yeah. TY HARDEN! will save us.
Frank Yallop's time in Chicago will probably be judged largely by his two consecutive makeovers of the Fire backline. Last season, it was Soumare and Hurtado and pray for rain, and boy did it rain. By season's end, JKH was riding the good ship Chivas USA into the sunset and the Larentowicz-as-centerback experiment was underway. This season, the plan was for Big Red and an experienced cover back (new recruit Adailton) to provide solidity behind a young possession midfield - but when the team lost faith in keeping the ball, the partnership's weaknesses were exposed under pressure, and again the team is leaking goals and buried deep in the table.
This week the news came that Larentowicz has a disc problem in his neck that will keep him out for a month, or possibly the season, depending. It's safe to say that Yallop Defensive Makeover No. 2 has acquired a new edge of desperation - Adailton is almost certainly out with a groin strain, and Joevin Jones (the best regular starter) is off dominating with Trinidad & Tobago. We could see a centerback pairing of Eric Gehrig and Ty Harden, with Greg Cochrane on the left; that's a whole lot of earnest not-quite on the field at once.
SaH: For the third question we will ignore the woeful forward situation. I'd like you to just riff about Harrison Shipp. He seems too good for the Fire.
HTIOT: Harrison Shipp is a gazelle tasked with pulling a sledge filled with mud. He is Aristotle, born too early, saddled with tribesman who communicate only with grunts and gestures. He is a self-created phenomenon, a too-slow, too-small kid who cast his gaze around the football world - possible, now, in a world so interconnected - and fashioned for himself the tools of similar greats: A velvety first touch, a sense of the broader issues of space and rhythm. So equipped, he was then tasked with hauling limestone up and down the right wing of the Fire's 4-4-1-1, while lifetime limestone hauler Guly do Prado's stone feet and general tactical blindness got a thorough tryout in the space behind the striker.
Significant Absences: Shaun Maloney (bulging disc), Jeff Larentowicz (herniated disc), Adailton (groin strain), possibly David Accam (hamstring)
Projected Lineup: (4-2-3-1): Sean Johnson; Greg Cochrane, Eric Gehrig, Ty Harden, Lovel Palmer; Matt Polster, Razvan Cocis; David Accam, Harry Shipp, Patrick Nyarko; Mike Magee.
HTIOT: Which Seattle Rain/Reign/rayne player would you add to the Sounders, and why?
SaH: I was thinking of sending you someone off script and go with Jess Fishlock or Kim Little, but that would be me being cute. I'd love Pinoe. Her spirit is bright and wonderful, so seeing more of that would be terrific. And she'd have a great use as a set-play specialist. Any team can use a set-play specialist.
HTIOT: 'Ameritrash' is a board-game genre characterized (at least in part) by sprawling, Byzantine, sometimes self-contradictory sets of rules. With the addition of Targetted Allocation Money to the ruleset, can MLS now be considered a true example of Ameritrash? And how will Seattle's horrifically competent front office turn this into some kind of mind-blowing competitive advantage? (I.e., who you gonna buy once Alonso's mortal again?)
SaH: Whoever we want? I know that sounds arrogant, but before Michael Bradley there was Clint Dempsey, before Giovinco there was Obafemi Martins. If the LA Galaxy are the cutting edge of roster moves, the Seattle Sounders are early adopters. The first time they had 3 DPs they had a young Montero, a young Uruguay World Cup player and an old Swiss World Cup player. This is a team that's been connected with the likes of Forlan, Drogba, Tagoe, Ledesma, Melo, Xavi, etc. Players and agents know that Seattle is a big money club that has a fanbase that can build a post-playing career. Adrian, Garth & Co will be able to collect the man that they feel fit and Sigi will have to make it work.
HTIOT: Does Sigi Schmid change the team's shape or approach in the face of so many hugely talented absentees? Or does he favor consistency over pragmatism?
SaH: While Sigi sets up his standard tactics based off of ideal personal he only rarely deviates from that. Now with Alonso back he'll continue with his 442/4231 hybrid that focuses on central possession and quick strikes out to burst through the defense. It will be less effective since Lamar Neagle and Chad Barrett are not Clinfemi. But this means that the defensive lines don't need to change their behavior. They can be solid in the back and middle, giving up a goal at most. That's got a lot of value in MLS, and on the road.
HTIOT: The Sounders have never lost to the Fire, never. They're 3-0-2 in Toyota Park, for the luvva Zoroaster. And this particular edition of the Fire comes into the game at a low ebb, winless in five games, limping and bleeding and in need of a hug. My question is: Is this a Trap Game? [akbar me, sah graphics combine]
SaH: He who abhors and shuns the light of the Sun,
He who refuses to behold with respect the living creation of God,
He who leads the good to wickedness,
He who makes the meadows waterless and the pastures desolate,
He who lets fly his weapon against the innocent,
An enemy of my faith, a destroyer of Thy principles is he, O Lord!
By the literature I must say, it is not a trap. We are water flowing swiftly, the good and pure, under grey clouds. We are the Eternal Blue, Forever Green.
Significant Absences: Dempsey, Evans, Pappa all at Gold Cup | Martins (adductor), Frei (shoulder)
Projected Lineup: Perkins; Remick, Scott, Marshall, Mears; Thomas, Pineda, Alonso, Roldan; Neagle, Barrett