Off to a surprising start, the Colorado Rapids have 13 points in their seven games. They are all about stingy defense, grit and raw Pablo-monium. Even with a win the Seattle Sounders will not be above the red line. The start out here was poor enough that a three-match unbeaten streak sees them looking up at all but two teams in the West. At one point this Saturday night (6 PM) match seemed an easy win for the Sounders, now it will be a struggle.
jpatrickrosch from Burgundy Wave answers Three Questions to better prepare you for the match.
SaH: Jermain Jones as a number 10 is some crazy talk or am I missing something?
BW: We have a joke here that when we do not understand the tactical decisions of the team we call it #PabloTactics. At times the things he does and say make no sense at all. (Just listen to one of his post game press conferences). But Jermaine Jones as a #10 is a real thing. And it appears that it is here to stay for the foreseeable future in Burgundy. Pablo sees a bit of himself in Jones, but with more of an offensive flair. And after the performance of Jones in the New York game, Pablo is even more emboldened with his choice. I don't think that this is the right move for the Rapids, but it has only been one game into that experiment, so who knows whether it will work or not.
After all, it's #PabloTactics
SaH: Which former Sounder is having the greatest impact (Azira, Burch, Pappa)? What about for this game?
BW: I think Pappa is having the biggest impact as he has had a goal and three assists for the Rapids. His movement with and without the ball have been a pure joy to watch and he is a major reason why the Rapids are the biggest surprise in the Western Conference this season. But for this match, I think Micheal Azira will have the biggest impact. He is second on the team with 622 minutes played and has partnered well with Sam Cronin. One of the big reasons that the Rapids are only giving up 0.71 goals per game has been the work rate of Azira. He has really blossomed this year and if it was not for Pappa, Azira would be the former Sounder people would be talking about.
SaH: I don't understand who is supposed to be the primary goal scorer. Who does Seattle need to stop?
BW: The primary goal scorer should be Kevin Doyle, but he is out with one of the nastiest injuries you will see. Right now, if I am the Sounders, I would worry about stopping Shkelzen Gashi and Luis Solignac as they will be the primary goal scorers for the Rapids. Gashi is a very good player with a great touch and has the pedigree of a goal scorer. Solignac has the most goals on the team this season and has thrived in the #9 roll since Doyle was injured.
Projected Lineup: 4-2-3-1: Zac MacMath, Marc Burch, Eric Miller, Bobby Burling, Mekeil Williams, Sam Cronin, Micheal Azira, Shkelzen Gashi, Jermaine Jones, Dominique Badji, Luis Solignac
Score: Rapids 1:1 Sounders
BW: Why should a Rapids fan care or be excited about Jordan Morris. And can he ever live up to the hype?
SaH: First I need to understand what the hype he's supposed to live up to is. There are those expecting some kind of wunderkind - they're wrong. He's going to be good. What he did prior to signing a pro deal is more than the following list of players - Stolz, Mullins, Wenger, Nagbe, Tracy, and White. But what will that mean on the field? It's probably 8-10 goals, which is really good for a rookie. Only four MLS rookies have scored in double digits.
Why should Rapids fans care is a harder question to answer. If you are also a USMNT fan you want him to do well because the USA needs forwards that can score goals, at the same time you don't want him playing well against Colorado. If you are a Rapids fan and not a USMNT fan you shouldn't care about Jordan's success. He's not going to move the MLS TV ratings needle significantly and he plays for an opponent.
BW: Seattle started slowly but appears to have righted the ship. What has changed?
SaH: It took a while to figure out, but it looks like Sigi Schmid found a formation that can score once-in-a-while. With the great defense of Osvaldo Alonso, Chad Marshall, Brad Evans and Stefan Frei the Sounders don't need to score many goals, but they still need to score. They are still stronger on set-pieces than run-of-play, at least until more talent is added, but at this point they look to have an average offense with strong defense. That's good enough to buy time and figure out the future.
BW: The Sounders have an open DP spot. Where do you think they will target (as in position on field)
SaH: They are looking at an attacking midfielder, whether that's someone centrally as the #10 or a hybrid winger will depend upon which price is best. Seattle's scouts have focused on France, Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Chile with shorter visits to Ecuador and Brazil. According to President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey they also have room for a TAM player. That could be a box-to-box midfielder or forward and may be signed prior to the bigger target. At this point I expect one of the two signings prior to the May 11th transfer window close and the other in the secondary transfer window this Summer.
Predicted Lineup (4-2-1-3): Frei; Remick, Marshall, Evans, Mears; Alonso, Friberg; Dempsey; Ivanschitz, Morris, Valdez
Score: 2-1 Seattle.