Well there is not a better week to play Real Salt Lake, or they may be out for blood...
So in case you missed it, last week RSL had a momentous game. Demar Phillips earned two yellows in the first 20 minutes, bringing the team down a man. Then they scored and went up 1-0 and watched Orlando City SC pick up a red to close the half. At 10v10, they scored again, going up 2-0. The match ended 2-2. How, you ask? Two goals in two minutes -- the final two minutes of stoppage to be exact. Salt Lake is crushed and without starting left back Demar Phillips, but they are coming back to Utah looking for a win in their home opener.
Jeff Cassar has changed...exactly nothing. Well maybe a little bit. They slid Joao Plata and Juan Manuel "El Burrito" Martinez back into advanced midfield roles with Javier Morales sitting behind Yura Movsisyan. Plata and Martinez will slide back, similar to Morris and Dempsey but with limited effectiveness. They were forced to do so with Phillips out in the last match, but will likely do it less with a LB playing, likely Chris Wingert.
Sunday "Sunny" Obayan and Kyle Beckerman make up the defensive pivot in the 4-2-3-1 (plays like a 4-2-1-3) and are pretty good. The problem is going to be getting through them. Sporting Kansas City did a great job separating Ivanschitz, Roldan, and Alonso, preventing the offense from connecting and getting started. If Beckerman and Sunny play as well as they can, it will be hard for the Sounders to push the ball through the midfielders for Ivanschitz to connect with the strikers. Good news for Seattle: RSL played very poorly at preventing balls going through the middle, but that is largely due to subbing off Sunny for Wingert after the Phillips red card.
The backline was incredibly shaky. With an emphasis on offense instead of protecting the middle after going down to 10 men, it isn't clear how well RSL will play in the midfield. With 36 clearances required in that match, we can be sure that we'll get chances. The questions are purely: How well can the ball move through the midfield, and can Erik Friberg facilitate that movement better than Cristian Roldan did last match?
Seattle will be without Oniel Fisher due to his red and Brad Evans is a no go this weekend after his shoulder injury. Erik Friberg and Tyrone Mears trained in full on Thursday and should be good to go in the first road match of the MLS season. Zach Scott will slide in at CB with Mears on the right. Friberg over Roldan in the middle will provide both offensive and defensive stability in a match that should see Seattle recover and get back on the road to MLS Cup that we hope for.
RSL- R-L 4-2-3-1
Rimando, Beltran, Olave, Maund, Wingert, Beckerman, Sunny, Martinez, Morales, Plata, Movsisyan
SEA R-L 4-3-3
Frei, Mears, Scott, Marshall, J. Jones, Alonso, Friberg, Ivanschitz, Morris, Valdez, Dempsey