Hot off the heels of a 4-0 thrashing of D.C. United, Minnesota United is set to take on the Seattle Sounders at home tonight. Last Saturday’s win was the team’s first in over a month, and the Loons will be looking to keep their momentum rolling forward against a Sounders team that is unbeaten in their last six games.
In order to better understand our opponents, Dave Clark, who is a founder and managing editor for Sounder at Heart, answered three of our questions about what to expect from the Sounders prior to Saturdays match at 7:00 PM. He was also kind enough to provide us with a projected starting lineup as well.
E Pluribus Loonum: The Sounders seem to be gearing up for a deep playoff run with the recent signing of Spanish winger Victor Rodriguez. How and when does he get integrated into Seattle's lineup? How do you think he will change the look of the team?
Sounder at Heart: Rodriguez is still waiting on his paperwork, which is just fine. That will give him at least two weeks of training before his first game. Since he was out of season the fitness work is vital, as is his ability to learn the squad. At this point I have yet to see him play besides highlights. The idea is that he's a bit of a possession winger who plays to pass rather than cross. It adds variety to the squad and since the "5th starter" in the attack has yet to be get locked in, Victor likely fills that role. When any of Bruin, Morris, Dempsey, or Lodeiro are out, the Sounders will have the Spaniard with La Liga experience stepping in. That's not bad. It will either hurt Brad Evans, Aaron Kovar and Harry Shipp's ability to get on the field or they will step up their practice games and earn more time. Altogether this is essential depth for the stretch run.
EPL: After scuffling from the early part of the season until about Mid-May, the Sounders find themselves in the midst of a good run of form having gone six games without a loss in the regular season. How was the team able to bounce back from such an inauspicious start?
SAH: Step one was to get healthy. At Sounder at Heart we've simultaneously praised the team’s depth and criticized it. When a team is forced to play five, six and seven players deep at a single position and/or position group for several weeks in a row they lose. But when their absences are spread out or limited to maybe two spots at a time the Sounders are quite good. Now that they are fit and healthy they are even winning without Osvaldo Alonso. Health has been paramount to the resurgence.
Step two was to start scoring. Will Bruin is a big part of that, but the other key scorers in this run are Clint Dempsey and Cristian Roldan. Two of those three guys should be expected to score in this league, but with Roldan popping off for five goals in just about 60% of the season the Sounders are adding variety to their scoring. If they can get Jordan Morris scoring at close to his rookie rate things will really take off. After his Gold Cup there is plenty of reason to think that will happen soon.
EPL: Seattle's attacking corps has plenty of big names. Which players pose the biggest threat to Minnesota United on Saturday? If you were coaching the Loons, what game plan would you use to counter the Sounders?
SAH: With you indicating the Loons are a bit weak on set-piece defense, a strength of Seattle's attack, I would recommend sitting deep and packing the box. The Sounders rather enjoy shooting from distance. Teams that play tight to that either foul too much or open up space for late runners. It's better to be the team that lets Dempsey shoot from 25+ than it is to be the one to let him get a half dozen shots in the box or a couple assists to Morris.
Predicted Starting XI:
I’d like to thank Dave once more for taking the time to answer our questions. If you’re interested in my answer to Sounder At Heart’s questions, make sure to check them out on their page.