Cue the “Sounders fans are just saying they don’t care about the final, but they’d be gloating about it if they won” reaction from both the little trees and most of the MLS. And for a good chunk of Sounders fans, that may be true, but it was clear from the second that patchwork quilt of players stepped on the pitch that this match was about fitness and earning a spot.
Sounders manager Sigi Schmid previously said this week that he was wanting to look at some of the players on trial and draft picks — he proved just that with his starting XI which featured only three guys that will definitely be on the field come March 2nd’s First Kick against Montreal (Mauro Rosales, Steve Zakuani and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado) and six guys who will either be fighting for a starting roll (David Estrada and Leo Gonzalez), getting a spot due to other player’s injuries (Zach Scott) or are pure depth (Marcus Hahnemann, Sammy Ochoa and Servando Carrasco). The starters for the Sounders also included two trailists in center back Djimi Traore and midfielder Lebogang Moloto, both of whom were impressive and will likely stick around for a while.
Meanwhile Portland, who has already played two preseason matches (and looked in much better form because of it), played a near ideal starting XI all the way through the 60th minute. That group’s last play was actually the goal that got past third-string keeper Josh Ford after two saves from him and Home Grown Player Deandre Yedlin off the line.
What Sounders fans can take out of this game though is that we miss the target of Eddie Johnson up top, I’m not sure David Estrada is the guy to play the withdrawn forward role right now, Steve Zakuani looks pretty damn good and may be the team’s X-factor this season and Mauro Rosales will once again be a constant target for other teams to beat the shit out of.
The second half of the game didn’t look much better for the Sounders, but that may be due to the fact that only one player on the pitch is likely to be included on most 18-man rosters (Marc Burch). Other than him Babyele Sodade looks like a massive human being, Yedlin shows flashes of great pace but needs better timing and we’re solid at the keeper spot through Ford.
The Sounders will now return back to Seattle for a week before heading back south for the Desert Diamond Cup February 13 in Tuscon in which they should have back Johnson, Brad Evans, Mario Martinez and Adam Johansson — all of whom are currently with their national teams for World Cup Qualifying.
Madison is the Digital Media Producer at the Yakima Herald-Republic. Originally from Spokane, Madison is a die-hard Seattle Sounders FC and USMNT fan. Along with loving soccer, he has an affinity for tacos and good bourbon — heck, even bad bourbon sometimes.