Ahead of tonight's match between D.C. United and the Seattle Sounders, we talked to Dave of Sounder at Heart for a preview on Seattle's side of things. For a look at what Ben provided them, feel free to check it out here.
B&RU: Seattle has been without the services of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins for the past three matches, in which they've been outscored 7-1; is there anyone one the roster that can step up in their absence?
SaH: Nope. It's not just because those two are awesome and MVP candidates. It's because after three opportunities no one has shown that they are going to take the extra playing time and touches successfully. Ideally players like Lamar Neagle and Chad Barrett would be the goal scorers. Both can be, but there is little indication that they will be soon. The midfield isn't helping them be goal dangerous. They are not scoring at the rare times that the midfield does provide. July is going to be a defining month. They can either tread water or fall by the wayside and it's up to Lamar and Barrett to determine what happens.
B&RU: Chad Marshall and Bobby Boswell were the consensus best central defenders last season; is the recent dip in defense on him alone, or is it more a confluence of factors?
SaH: It's a lot of stuff. As usual a major part of Seattle's defense is Osvaldo Alonso. He's been out, but could return tonight. On top of that the right back has changed, the fourth string left back started the last match. So the defensive part of the midfield is a mess and the backline is not what is designed to be. While the midfield will get better soon, the preferred partner at CB is Brad Evans and he's off with the United States for the Gold Cup.
Zach Scott will start in Evans' place. Scott is a hard contact, aerial duel specialist. Off Seattle's defenders he's the most likely to launch the ball long and the most likely to make a mistake with a short pass. Seattle should be better on set-piece defense and the drop off if Alonso's back will not be extreme.
B&RU: Osvaldo Alonso has been battling injury, but is back at full training now; how does he change Seattle if he's back in the lineup on Friday?
SaH: It's the difference between the Sounders looking like one of those schlub teams that doesn't make the Playoffs and a team that makes the Play-In Round. Alonso's defensive presence is well known at this point, but pigeonholing his as just a 3rd CB that wins the ball is a mistake. He is one of the best passers in the league and starts Seattle's transitions with probing long balls or rhythmic short passes. Like most DPs that earn their pay he makes the players around him better. With Alonso on the field Pineda is a top box-to-box CM in MLS. Without Ozzie, Pineda has looked awful.
Significant Absences: Absences: Dempsey (USA), Evans (USA), Marco Pappa (GUA), Martins (adductor), Andres Correa (adductor) are all out. Leonardo Gonzalez, Dylan Remick, Alonso are questionable.
Projected Lineup: Stefan Frei; Oneil Fisher, Scott, Marshall, Tyrone Mears; Thomas, Alonso, Christian Roldan, Andy Rose; Neagle, Barrett