I had my first nightmare last night in probably five years. I’m usually a pretty happy sleeper, a dreamer if you will. But anyone who watched the same Seattle Sounders FC as I did yesterday against Portland knows exactly what caused my night terrors.
I actually DVR’d the match so I could watch it for further analysis last night, but the second I got home from the bar I deleted the recording as fast as Comcast would let me.
The Sounders are reeling, coach Sigi Schmid may actually be in luke warm water —although I’m not buying it — and the fans are actually getting uncomfortable. This was a Seattle side that started the season 7-1-1 and allowed only three goals. Now we’ve gone 0-4-3 in our last seven and given up nearly five times that amount. I’m all about optimism but even I’ve gotten a little cynical.
Some would say to add to the pain, the Sounders immediately had to hop on a plane down to San Francisco where this time tomorrow they will be readying themselves to face the San Jose Earthquakes who have now taken over the best record in MLS.
Normally I would like to think that the Quakes would play this one at full strength, much like the LA Galaxy and FC Dallas sides Seattle faced in last season’s campaign, but I’m not so sure they won’t be looking to pummel us the way we’re currently playing.
Imagine how tough it’s been for us, the fans, to mentally and emotionally recover from Sunday. Add to that the physical toll taken on the players and it wouldn’t shock me to see a tired Sounders side on the pitch tomorrow. But then again, I’m an optimist and this is the US Open Cup — our cup.
The Quakes are likely to play their stars tomorrow in Chris Wondolowski, Martin Chavez and Stephen Lenhardt, but they don’t know what it’s like to hoist this trophy for three consecutive seasons. There is arguably more pressure on this match than the one in Portland. With a loss here the Sounders don’t just drop three points, they drop that cup that no one has been able to take away from them.
Expect San Jose to come with everything they’ve got, and if they don’t then shame on them, because Schmid, the Sounders veterans and the rave green supporters know just how much this match means and will give the Quakes everything left in their already depleted tank.
Prediction — Seattle’s tank is on empty, but a win against San Jose could mean that the gas station is just ahead. For the Sounders to secure a victory they must score early. Offense has been the Sounders downfall all season long, with the defense giving way in the last month and a half. Seattle to win this one need to score at least two goals, make it three to be safe. This one though will be tight and will go into extra time. It almost seems unimaginable to think it, but there’s a very realistic that the fresher legs and minds of San Jose take this one — god I hope I’m wrong. San Jose wins 2-1 in ET.
Projected starting XI — Just like I mentioned before the Portland game, this lineup is very very fluid, mainly because players are starting to get healthy which adds more names to the mix. Players in parenthesis may either start in place of or sub in for the player they’re next to.
GK, Andrew Weber
CB, Patrick Ianni CB, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado
RB, Adam Johansson (Zach Scott) LB, Leo Gonzalez (Marc Burch)
CDM, Osvaldo Alonso
RM, Cordell Cato LM, Alvaro Fernandez
CAM, Andy Rose
FW, Fredy Montero (Steve Zakuani) FW, Sammy Ochoa (Eddie Johnson)
Biggest shock — This is a new section I’m going to add to my previews, just because it seems there have been a lot of them so far this season. The biggest shock of this one is a tie between San Jose resting Wondo and Seattle starting Zakuani. There is little doubt that the Quakes will rest Lenhardt or Chavez, but I would be shocked if they don’t start their best player and leading scorer. They will be looking to strike early and Wondo is just the man for the job. On the Seattle side, I actually expect Zak to see time in this one, but as a 60 or 70th minute sub that will add energy and pace. I see him coming into a forward slot for either Montero who should start since he can’t play Saturday at New England or for a tired Ochoa — the latter is more likely.