The top spot in the MLS Power Rankings, the best points per game average in the league and the stars recovering from early injuries can only mean one thing for Seattle Sounders FC — they’re on fire right now.
Off to a franchise best 6-1-1 start, Seattle has been able to pull 19 points from those matches while using a different lineup in each one. Tonight’s match against FC Dallas at 5:30 p.m. should see the Sounders ninth different starting 11 take the pitch.
Osvaldo Alonso (AKA the Honey Badger) once again leads the MLS in tackles and general badassness. He has yet to score in 2012, but look for Ozzie to launch a few at Dallas' net tonight
After a not-so-convincing 1-0 win over the weekend against the Philadelphia Union, Seattle hopes to return regular right back Adam Johansson and left midfielder Alvaro Fernandez back into the mix. Seattle will be without left back Leo Gonzalez though as he has been suspended one game by the MLS for his hard tackle in the 82nd minute of Saturday’s contest
The biggest oncoming though for the Sounders as of late has been the meshing of forwards Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero, each of whom scored last Wednesday in a 2-0 victory at home over the LA Galaxy. Johnson got a rest on Saturday, coming in as a late sub, but you should expect to see him and Montero back up top tonight.
They will be faced with the tough challenge though of beating one of the MLS’ best center backs in George John. Both men play a very physical brand of soccer and are great in the air. Look for Montero to play more of a withdrawn role tonight as he is less effective in physical situations while Johnson will battle inside with John.
The other player to watch for Dallas is US International Brek Shea. Although he is only 22-years-old, Shea has proven he is a force to be reckoned with in the MLS, scoring Dallas’ lone goal in a 1-0 against Seattle last season. Shea is listed as questionable for the match though as he is recovering from a turf toe.
Dallas will be without key players as well though, as center back and captain Ugo Ihemelu will miss the match with concussion symptoms and both Blas Perez and Daniel Hernandez will miss the match due to suspension from red cards received over the weekend against Colorado.
Finally, the biggest spotlight of the night will be shined on Seattle backup goalkeeper Bryan Meredith who since coming in at halftime against the Galaxy for the injured Michael Gspurning has not allowed a goal into the Seattle net. Meredith will face a much more disciplined Dallas attack tonight than he did on Saturday, so it will be important to see how the young keeper does.
Prediction — Seattle is tired, they are in the worst stretch of the season, but the fact that so many key players are coming back from injury can only be a good thing. Injuries and suspensions will kill Dallas tonight. Sounders win 3-0.
Projected lineup (*indicates goalscorer)
GK — Bryan Meredith
LB — Marc Burch
CB — Jhon Kennedy Hurtado
CB — Jeff Parke
RB — Adam Johansson
CDM — Osvaldo Alonso*
LM — Alvaro Fernandez
RM — Mauro Rosales
CAM — Brad Evans
F — Fredy Montero*
F — Eddie Johnson*