The Seattle Sounders will face off this Sunday against a squad stuck singing the expansion team blues. We posed a series of queries to our colleagues from Sounder at Heart to get better acquainted with New York City's next opponent, who have more than a few "Emerald Weapons" at their disposal.
HRB: What's your evaluation of Brad Evans's noteworthy move from midfield to center back?
SaH: B-Rad is still learning, but it sounds like he and Sigi are happy with how things are going. Just check out this table regarding our community player ratings (each match gets rated by more than 300 readers, where a six is an average MLS player).
Evans had a single horrific game. But the rest of the season he's showing what you expect from an intelligent and skillful CB. He's great at winning the ball in the air, solid with the ball at his feet and is learning how to distribute effectively from the back. The whole gamble about him moving to the backline was to get an AJ DeLaGarza type of defender who is also good in the air. That looks to be happening.
When combined with the best defender that's made his career in MLS that means that the Sounders have a great defense, and it is getting better. It lacks a bit of depth in that Zach Scott is soccer-player old, but last year's run-and-gun is replaced by something more akin to shock-and-awe.
HRB: What would Sounders supporters have done if Stefan Frei was insta-loaned to Montreal in mid-week for the CONCACAF final? What was it like to hear his name bandied about?
SaH: It would have been a significant issue among the hardcore. Seattle's soccer leadership (Hanauer, Lagerwey, Schmid) talk about wanting to make history and be the first MLS team to win the CCL. Helping another team do that would be a mistake. It's not surprising that the Sounders didn't do it. Now, word was that if Troy Perkins wanted to go and Montreal was going to give something up that Seattle would have made that deal. Getting something for a loan of a backup keeper is smart roster management.
HRB: What can the Seattle do to take advantage of the infamously narrow field at Yankee Stadium?
SaH: Seattle's best long throw guys are Zach Scott (except he needs to be a target and he's a CB that doesn't start), Brad Evans (another target and CB) and Dylan Remick (a left back who recently won the starting job, but could lose it tomorrow). So, on long throws it will probably be Remick targeting players like Evans, Marshall, Rose and Dempsey. That worked well at home last week:
During run-of-play Seattle shouldn't be changed much. They already don't count on wide play and like to stuff Dempsey, Martins and one of Pappa/Neagle inside a tiny space at the top of the area. Those four players are used to being jammed, but still busting through to get on goal in space. Saunders is going to be tested by Oba and Clint. I would put my money on Clinfemi.
SaH's Projected Starting XI for Seattle:
Many thanks to the delightful Cascadians from Sounder at Heart! Be sure to check out Rafael's "reverse fixture" over on their site, in which the Fearless Leader tackles three questions on the Bronx Blues!