Friendlies rarely come at the best times, but with Chad Marshall and Brad Evans injured and during a month with eight total matches this may be the worst timing for a friendly yet. West Ham United is visiting a Seattle Sounders team that needed to add three players to the roster in order for Tuesday night's game. There are a few West Ham-Sounders connections (Tyrone Mears, Harry Redknapp, Bobby Moore) so the team may be able to celebrate history while giving the players and fans a bit of a run of fun without the stresses of winning and losing.
Sean from Claret and Hugh answers Three Questions, and asks 10, to help you get ready for the game.
SaH: What returning veteran needs to use this preseason to cement playing time in 2016-17?
C&H: This is a really hard one as most of our veterans as you call them played well last season and those who didn't have already left the club. James Collins who we call the Ginger Pele is third choice centre back for West Ham despite being in the Euro Championship semi-final for Wales. He is a popular figure amongst the fans and works very hard for the team. However, he remains on International duty for Wales and could make the Euro 2016 final in France. Many of our team are quite new but the player who needs to prove himself the most to cement playing time this coming season is Andy Caroll. Purchased for over £15.5m and on over £90,000 wages per week the striker he has spent a lot of the last three years injured. Signed in 2013 from Liverpool the player has never lived up to his potential and we hope that this coming season is the season he repays us by scoring lots of goals.
SaH: Which youngster do you want to see most in this friendly?
C&H: The young Reece Burke is something very special. He played on loan for Bradford last season and won no less than seven awards at the end of the season including player of the year award. He is described as an old head on young shoulders. He is the future of our centre of defense. With James Tomkins being sold to Crystal Palace for £10m this week he has an opportunity to move up to the first team squad a backup centre back on the bench.
SaH: What does it mean for West Ham to come all the way out to the West Coast?
C&H: Mixed emotions. This has been done to promote our global brand stateside and bring the new West Ham logo with the word London on the badge to America. Some die-hard West Ham fans are uncomfortable with the concept of a global brand and why we need to travel so far for pre-season friendlies. We are more used to playing teams that play down the road from our stadium like Southend United in his pre-season fixtures so New Zealand and America this season are a break from that tradition. We are just hoping no-one gets injured and the jet lag doesn't affect our pre-season preparations. I don't see a very competitive game from either side so the result means nothing.
C&H: What do you know about West Ham United and their fan base?
SaH: American soccer fans are split into three main groups: those that follow the major European Leagues (usually EPL with a few top teams in the other leagues), those that follow Liga MX and those that follow American soccer only. I'm in that third group. I don't know much about West Ham. I haven't even watched Green Street Hooligans, so I don't know much about the relationship between hobbits and hooliganism.
C&H: What do you know about the West Ham manager Slaven Bilic and the Premier league in general?
SaH: Most of my EPL knowledge comes from following the few Americans over there - particularly former Sounder DeAndre Yedlin. From what little I know about Bilic is that he's a bit of a tactical specialist and part of the new school of younger, up and comers signed from outside the English system. He's also on some short lists for the English job, but I'm hoping you take Klinsmann.
C&H: Tell us a little bit about the history of the Seattle Sounders and how it was formed?
SaH: MLS is a franchise system, but the Sounders have a history that goes back to 1974. That's a bit old in US soccer. They were part of the NASL (of Pele/Cosmos fame), the A-League and USL (the second division at the time) and joined MLS in 2009. The team in its various iterations has a largish trophy chest with its most recent significant title being the 2014 Supporters' Shield (regular season championship).
C&H: If you could have any current West Ham player in your team who would you choose and why?
SaH: Payet has been a thrill to watch in the Euros. That and the Sounders desperately need an attacking mid.
C&H: Which Seattle Sounders star players should we look out for on Wednesday?
SaH: If I'm a Hammer I would focus on Clint Dempsey (former Tottenham, Fulham, current USA) because you can see how he's maintained form, or not, since he joined Seattle from Spurs. The other key attacking player would be Jordan Morris. At 21 this is his first pro year after playing for Stanford University and the Sounders Academy. Morris has six goals at roughly the halfway point of the season and is already a fringe player for the National Team. Osvaldo Alonso is the defensive midfielder here. He's got an everlasting battery and is one of the more skilled passers on the team. Alonso is also the most likely to dribble out of trouble.
C&H: Former Hammers Harry Redknapp and Bobby Moore briefly played for the Seattle Sounders in the seventies. What do you know about their time with you?
SaH: Redknapp helped the Sounders finish 2nd to the Cosmos in 1977. I'm hoping that he gets the Golden Scarf as a recognition for his contributions to soccer and Seattle.
C&H: Tell us three interesting facts about Seattle.
SaH: It was built on seven hills, but then we leveled one of them. The stadium district is built on top of that dirt.
We were the taking off point for most of the Alaska Gold Rush. During that boom Seattle went from 80,000 to 260,000 people. There are now 680,000 or so within the city limits and 3.7 million in the metropolitan area.
You may think of Seattle as the headquarters of Microsoft, but that's actually out in the suburbs in Redmond. The suburbs also host companies like Nintendo, Wizards of the Coast, Boeing (unofficial), Costco and more. Seattle itself is the center for Amazon and Amazon and Amazon and Amazon. It seems to be everywhere these days.
C&H: I understand Tyrone Mears plays right back for you and once played for West Ham. How has his career worked out in the MLS?
SaH: In his first half season he exploded on the scene looking like a gamechanger. Now he's a servicable right back who is better in defense than attack. Most MLS teams would be happy to have his quality.
C&H: How do you expect the sounders to set-up against West Ham on Wednesday /Team/formation?
SaH: The starters will only play the first half. You will probably see a kind of 4-2-1-3.
Stefan Frei; Joevin Jones, Chad Marshall, Brad Evans, Tyrone Mears; Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg; Clint Dempsey; Andreas Ivanschitz; Jordan Morris, Aaron Kovar
C&H: West Ham and the Seattle Sounders have never played each other. What is your score prediction for the game?
SaH: I just want Seattle to not embarrass themselves. Previous friendlies against Chelsea, Manchester United and Barcelona did that. Though the Sounders did put forward a fun 3-3 result against Tottenham in 2014.