Sounders say Bonjour to Montreal

After quickly becoming a Seattle fan favorite, Lamar Neagle was traded away to Montreal with Mike Fucito in exchange for striker Eddie Johnson.

Our beloved Seattle Sounders FC have made the long trip to France. Or Canada. Or some place that speaks French and smells like cheese.

After a three-week-long MLS break, the Sounders (7-3-3) return to league action Saturday night against the expansion side — Montreal Impact (3-7-3). Although the Rave Green haven’t faced an MLS opponent in 20 days, they have not been sitting by idly waiting, winning their third and fourth round ties of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup against the Atlanta Silverbacks and Cal FC while scoring 10 goals and allowing only one.

Unlike last season when the Sounders faced expansion sides four times — Portland and Vancouver twice each — they will only face this Impact side once this season with the return leg to Seattle taking place next season.

This is a Montreal squad that has some Seattle ties though, with former Sounder players Sanna Nyassi, Miguel Montaño and crowd-favorite Lamar Neagle all spending time on the pitch north of the border.

This season has more than one first though for Montreal, as they are lead by rookie coach Jesse Marsch, will be reopening their soccer-specific home Stade Saputo for the first time Saturday and have two goals from rookie striker and number one overall pick in the 2012 MLS Super Draft Andrew Wenger.

Scoring has been a problem in 2012 for the Impact, but they have found a solid striker in former Italian international Bernardo Corradi who leads the squad with four goals. They also have experience between the pipes in 2010 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Donovan Ricketts. The Jamaican international keeper has stopped 39 shots so far this season and at 6’4″ tall is an imposing figure for Seattle strikers Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero to get by.

A mix of the new stadium opening, revenge from former players who will be hungry for a start and a cross-country journey for the Sounders will make it tough for Seattle to cross the border with three points, but if the results of the last two Open Cup matches show anything — Seattle is in the mood to score.

Injuries — OUT: FW Babayele Sodade (R knee ACL tear); MF David Estrada (L broken foot); DOUBTFUL: GK Michael Gspurning (R hip strain); DF Patrick Ianni (lower back pain); DF Leo Gonzalez (L quad strain); DF Adam Johansson (R hamstring strain); MF Steve Zakuani (R leg fracture); QUESTIONABLE: GK Josh Ford (R knee stress fracture)

Probable Starting 11 —

GK, Bryan Meredith
CB, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado    CB, Jeff Parke
RB, Zach Scott                                    LB, Marc Burch
CDM, Andy Rose
RM, Mauro Rosales               LM, Alvaro Fernandez
CAM, Brad Evans
FW, Fredy Montero     FW, Eddie Johnson

Prediction — It won’t be easy, especially without starters David Estrada and MLS All Star Osvaldo Alonso who is serving the last of his two match suspension, but Seattle will be the better side on the pitch and the scoring from the last two weeks will continue. Seattle wins 3-1.