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Sounders vs Colorado Rapids: Three Questions

Saturday night’s match (7 p.m., JOEtv) features a rebuilt Rapids side that might just be a playoff contender.

Bow to your king
Kayla Mehring / Sounder at Heart

Last season, the Colorado Rapids had the worst attack in the West, their poor defense was terrible but not record-setting like the worst in the league. To fix this they attempted a massive roster overhaul, remaining committed to Seattle-born coach Anthony Hudson.

That commitment to Hudson paid off with a draw in week one, despite being down a man. In Seattle this weekend, they will face a Seattle Sounders squad that is healthier than they are, with higher expectations and a crowd fueled by a coaching staff that wants to be greedy again.

Abbie Mood from Burgundy Wave answers Three Questions.

SaH: Who fills in for Axel Sjöberg and how will that change the defense?

BW: If it’s anything like we saw last year, Axel isn’t Hudson’s first choice anyway. When everyone is healthy, I assume we’ll see Kort Ford and Tommy Smith as our two CBs. Unfortunately, Ford is out with an injury and Smith is questionable, so we will probably see Deklan Wynne and Danny Wilson. Wilson was not great last year but played well in the Snow Clasico against Portland last weekend. Wynne is very much a weak spot, so having those two at CB definitely opens up our defense to getting worked. I think Hudson is pretty committed to the 4-4-2 now, so I don’t expect any changes formation-wise to accommodate the defense.

SaH: There was a massive roster overhaul during the offseason. Is there enough soccer to go around with all the new attacking pieces?

BW: The biggest thing the club did in the offseason was bring in players that have proven themselves and have experience in MLS. Guys like Diego Rubio from Sporting Kansas City, Kei Kamara from the Vancouver Whitecaps, and Benny Feilhaber from LAFC have made an immediate impact. Kamara and Feilhaber both scored last weekend and Rubio looked great, but was subbed out when the Pids went down to 10 men. Even bringing in Keegan Rosenberry as rightback (and getting homegrown player Dillon Serna time at left back) have allowed the Rapids to be much more threatening offensively. Then you add in Andre Shinyashiki, who people are predicting will win Rookie of the Year, and the Rapids are more dangerous on offense than they’ve been in years.

SaH: Is Anthony Hudson on the hot seat?

BW: I’d like to think so. Many of us think the biggest reason Hudson survived last year is because they were still on the hook for Pablo Mastroeni’s salary. It was also his first year in MLS and it would appear that the FO gave him a grace period. But the FO did their job in the offseason by bringing in the right players, so it’s up to Hudson to make it work. If things start to go downhill, Hudson should be worried about his job.

Projected Lineup:

Tim Howard; Keegan Rosenberry, Danny Wilson, Deklan Wynne, Dillon Serna; Jack Price, Benny Feilhaber, Kellyn Acosta, Nicolas Mezquida; Diego Rubio, Kei Kamara

BW: For the past couple of years, the Sounders have struggled through the beginning of the season, made a big summer signing, and then powered into the playoffs. With the big win over FC Cincinnati last weekend, do you think things will be different this year?

SaH: Seattle has a few things going for them that they didn’t in the last few seasons. They aren’t in CCL and didn’t compete into December in back-to-back years. For many players this means they actually had time to rest. Ideally, that will mean fewer injuries, which hampered the early seasons in both 2017 and 2018. They also have a core that stayed close to intact. Their familiarity with each other and the league is greater than ever. Finally, they are saying the right things about every game is a must win (last year there was talk about no must win games in April).

BW: Which offseason acquisition will have the biggest impact on this team?

SaH: There weren’t many to choose from. Trey Muse is the third keeper and will play for Tacoma Defiance. Jonathon Campbell is a depth centerback behind the leagues deepest set of CBs. So that probably leaves Saad Abdul-Salaam as the most significant acquisition. Some days he may be in the 18. Abdul-Salaam will be able to flex into the right back, left back, right wing and centerback roles, but he will not start frequently.

BW: Considering that Jordan Morris is back and the club already has a handful of other scoring threats, what do the Rapids need to do to slow down Seattle’s offense?

SaH: Step one is to keep eyes on Ruidiaz. His off-ball movement is extraordinary and it is paired with MVP caliber finishing. No matter how Colorado controls the rest of Seattle’s attack they have to find a way to be wary of Raul. He needs just a single touch to change games. Step two would be to attempt to channel the Sounders possession to their right. Forcing Jordan Morris into possession play should limit the effectiveness of the Sounders attack.

Projected line-up:

Stefan Frei; Brad Smith, Chad Marshall, Kim Kee-hee, Kelvin Leerdam; Gustav Svensson, Cristian Roldan; Victor Rodriguez, Nicolas Lodeiro, Jordan Morris; Raul Ruidiaz

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