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Sounders vs Toronto FC: Three questions

Charlie from Waking The Red and I have a chat about the match this Saturday

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Sounder at Heart: It feels like forever ago that TFC and Seattle were in a two-year battle as the two best teams in MLS. After a year of injuries, missing the playoffs, and mixing up the front office and the roster, TFC appear to be back on top. What’s the biggest non-Alejandro Pozuelo (more on him in the next question) reason for the turn around?

Waking The Red: A lot of it seems to be mental. Last year was weird; the season pretty much climaxed in April with losing the CCL final on penalties, and from there the whole team just didn’t seem to have any of the drive they’d shown when they were pulling out gritty wins in 2017. The defending always seemed disorganized, and the whole squad just kind of deflated when they allowed an early goal (which they almost always did). It didn’t help that the team suffered with a ridiculous amount of injuries all year, to the point that the defensive lineup was pretty much never the same from game-to-game (Michael Bradley saw way too many starts at centre-back). This year, they’ve kind of managed to rekindle some kind of spark, and everybody seems to be on the same page again. Also, they’re much healthier. Jozy Altidore seems to be reaching his top form after barely playing last year, which has been huge.

SAH: Alejandro Pozuelo seems like he’s really good. Like, really really good. This isn’t really a question as much as it is an opportunity for you to talk about him all you want.

WTR: My God is he ever special. A lot of TFC fans were annoyed as hell when they sold Sebastian Giovinco and began pursuing some guy from the Belgian league that they’d never heard of. The process of getting him over to Toronto was painful; Genk was extremely unwilling to let him go before the summer, but Pozuelo pushed for it to the point that he’s become a major villain back there — to be fair, it does suck for your captain to lobby so hard for a transfer while you’re winning the league.

Anyway, Pozuelo has been sublime in his first two games. Somehow, he and Altidore already seem to have a really good connection. Actually, Pozuelo seems to be connecting well with everybody; he seems to be on the same page as Jonathan Osorio, especially; Oso is one of the Spanish-speaking players who have really helped Pozo’s transition. Obviously we can’t expect two goals and an assist every game, but he seems to be a threat all the time. We’ll just have to hope he’s able to stay fresh after already playing a full season in Belgium.

SAH: Saturday’s match, then. What are TFC’s weaknesses that Seattle can exploit? What are you expecting from the match?

WTR: Seattle is easily the toughest matchup TFC have had to face yet, so it’ll be interesting to see how they cope with a much more potent attack. The backline has definitely been exposed on several occasions; the communication between the defenders and Alex Bono has been kind of off at times. If the Sounders put major pressure on TFC’s centre-backs (especially since it looks like Drew Moor won’t be playing), they could be able to force some ugly turnovers in dangerous areas. TFC will be hoping to get another away win after a mildly disappointing draw with Chicago last weekend, but it’ll be very interesting to see how they stack up to a major contender in MLS. It’ll be a real measuring stick for what the team is capable of this season, as it was when TFC visited Seattle back in 2017 and ground out a very ugly win.

(Editor note: The reverse questions will be shared here, if they ever get posted.)

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