Who You’ll Watch
The Seattle Sounders will travel to Commerce City, Colorado to take on the Colorado Rapids on July 4. This is the first time these two have seen each other since leg two of the Western Conference Finals and the first of two regular season meetings this year.
Colorado currently sits in ninth place in the Western Conference (19 points in 17 games played; 1.12 ppg) while the Sounders still sit in eighth place (21 points in 18 games played; 1.17 ppg). Colorado has struggled all year long but are coming off a 3-1 win on Saturday against the Houston Dynamo while the Sounders are coming off a 2-2 tie against the Portland Timbers back on June 25.
The Rapids lost three key players in their 3-1 loss to FC Dallas in the U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 match this past Tuesday. Axel Sjoberg, Dillon Powers and Shkelzen Gashi all left that game with injuries. All three are questionable for this game.
Rapids: W-W-L-L-W; eight goals scored with seven conceded
Top Scorer: Dominique Badji and Kevin Doyle, four goals
Top Assist Leader: Badji, five assists
Sounders: L-W-L-D-D, five goals scored with five conceded
Top Scorers: Clint Dempsey and Will Bruin
Top Assist leader: Joevin Jones and Nicolas Lodeiro
Absences: Injury, international duty, suspension
Bobby Burling (foot injury) is out. Gashi (hamstring injury), Gatt (groin injury), Powers (groin injury) and Sjoberg (hamstring injury) are all questionable. Mohammed Saeid (knee injury) is also listed but with no designation if he is questionable or not. Mekeil Williams is one yellow card away from yellow card accumulation.
Seyi Adekoya (left ankle sprain) is the lone member listed and he is questionable for this game. Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan are away with the US National Team for the 2017 Gold Cup as is Oniel Fisher for Jamaica. Brad Evans is not available due to the red card he picked up on June 25 against Portland.
What to Watch
Pablo Mastroeni, a young Snidely Whiplash, used all his magic up last year, and it’s not hard to draw the conclusion - based on the results in the preceding and current seasons - that he never had much in the first place.
Last season’s success was built on the back of a historically good defense and an offense capable of eking out a goal most of the time. This year’s version can’t score (tied last at .9 goals per match), in part because they don’t shoot (last at 9.1/match), and partly because they hold the ball the least in the league (just 44.9% possession; even at home it’s a paltry 47%).
It also isn’t defending nearly as well - it spends the second-most amount of time in it’s own third and third-least in the opponent’s third. It is a team under constant siege, and only the combination of a strong central defense and American hero Tim Howard have kept them anywhere near competitive.
Normally this is when we’d talk about how, no matter, there are still dangerous players on the field and the Sounders will need to be careful. While the latter is always the case, the former really isn’t true as a result of the rash of injuries the Rapids suffered running out their first team in the Open Cup. When healthy, Mastroeni favors a 4-2-3-1, but, potentially missing almost every important piece he has, it’s just as likely he trots out a more conservative bucket-ish 4-4-2. Either way, he’s going to have to dig deep on his bench to find players.
Colorado’s depleted defense - If ever there were a match for the Sounders to break good in, this is it. Colorado’s weakened center defense means a tremendous amount of weight will be placed on the midfield, and there’s little chance Azira and the whomever the other defensive midfielder ends up being will be capable of stopping a nearly full-strength Seattle attack.
The opportunity to pick up road points has to be too good to pass up, and that probably means a more aggressive setup to overwhelm the midfield. Don’t be surprised if Seattle comes out in a 5-3-2/3-5-2 with the outside backs averaging out the aggressiveness levels from each.
Colorado’s starting lineup hasn’t been strong to begin with, and dipping into the backups - and backups’ backups - isn’t usually a recipe for increased quality of play. This is very much a battle of Colorado’s weakness vs Seattle’s best strength, and there’s little chance the Rapids will be able to stem the tide with their anemic . Seattle’s veterans should find plenty of space and confusion to take advantage of. This has the potential to be a very fun match, and we should see the Dudley Dorights foil another of Whiplash’s ridiculous plots.
Seattle: Frei; Nouhou Tolo, Roman Torres, Chad Marshall, Gustav Svensson, Jones; Lodeiro, Osvaldo Alonso, Aaron Kovar; Dempsey, Bruin
Colorado: Howard; Eric Miller, Kortne Ford, Jared Watts, Marlon Hairston; Azira, Boateng; Badji, Doyle, Dillon Serna; Alan Gordon
How to Watch
Date/Time: Tuesday, July 4 6:00 PM
Venue: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
Television: Q13 FOX
Radio: KIRO 97.3 FM (English), El Rey 1360 AM (Spanish)