Sounders playing for positioning

Two firsts will take place tonight at CenturyLink field for Seattle Sounders FC in their four-year stint as an MLS club — goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann will start in net (his first start as a Sounder in 16 years), and Seattle will finish first in a CONCACAF Champions League qualification group.

That said, in a season where we saw two of our trophies go to other teams, this is a win the Rave Green needs. Being safely through to the quarterfinals of the Champions League for a second straight season gives the Sounders a level of international recognition that is becoming necessary in a more international MLS.

The 3-2 victory last month in Honduras against Marathon FC, the Sounders opponent tonight, already won the group for Seattle, but grabbing 12 of 12 points in the group means avoiding the Mexican giants Monterrey  and Santos Laguna until the semifinals.

Tonight though Sounders coach Sigi Schmid will throw out a different lineup than we’ve seen before — basically a reserve side.

With only one MLS match left (Sunday at LA Galaxy) before the MLS Cup Playoffs, there is zero reason to risk injury to any starters. This opens the door for guys like Mario Martinez, Mike Seamon and Sammy Ochoa to shine. Martinez, who has recently been under some heat for tweeting about a lack of playing time, is from Honduras and would love nothing more than to drop a few bombs on an already down and out Marathon side, his former rivals.

Keys to the Match —

This one is simple. Be sound on defense, keep a clean sheet for Marcus and get Martinez some good looks at goal. Get the win, stay healthy and have fun.

Projected starting XI —

GK, Marcus Hahnemann
CB, Zach Scott    CB, Daniel Steres
RB, Mike Seamon                               LB, Marc Burch
CM, Servando Carrasco
RM, Alex Caskey          LM, Mario Martinez
CAM, Andy Rose
FW, Sammy Ochoa        FW, David Estrada

Projection —

The XI that Schmid puts out on the pitch tonight will serve two purposes. They’re not only there to win the match, which they will and then jump into the third seed for the quarterfinals, but also for the coaching staff to decide who the subs and possible starters will be come playoff time. Guys like Caskey, Martinez, Rose and Estrada will all be in direct competition (along with Zakuani if healthy) for a starting/sub spot in the series against RSL. A good performance tonight could mean a sub spot. Also, Seattle like the weather tonight will rain down goals. This Marathon FC defense is bad and will not play well on our quick pitch. 4-0 Sounders.