D.C. United revisits the site of last season’s most galling defeat tonight, as they visit the Seattle Sounders. Last year, a feel-good 3-0 lead at CenturyLink Field dissolved in just over 21 woeful minutes, and the Sounders effectively buried United’s season by coming back to win 4-3. That Seattle team went to MLS Cup for the second straight year, but things are different right now. The Sounders are now 22nd out of 23 teams in MLS, and are actually further from a playoff spot than United is.
In other words, expect a desperate opponent tonight.
Key player: Darren Mattocks
Much has been made of Seattle’s attack, which has been shut out more times (8) than they’ve actually scored (7) on the season. What goes unmentioned is that despite no attacking support and constantly having to manage difficult game states, the Sounders have once again been among MLS’s best defensive teams. Of their seven losses, no fewer than five are 1-0, and they’ve also got a 0-0 draw to throw in there.
You might know where I’m going with this. United might not be able to carve open a ton of chances in this one, and most of the ones they do manufacture are going to fall to their Jamaican marksman. Mattocks has scored at a very impressive rate, but he’s also turned some great chances into maddening misses.
If Mattocks can produce even one sharp finish, though, United may well be on course for a fourth straight game without a loss. Given that we’re down in the depths of the longest road trip in club history, that’s no little thing.
Location: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, WA)
Kickoff time: 10:00pm Eastern
Projected D.C. United starting 11: (4141) - David Ousted; Oniel Fisher, Frederic Brillant, Steve Birnbaum, Joseph Mora; Junior Moreno; Zoltan Stieber, Paul Arriola, Luciano Acosta, Yamil Asad; Darren Mattocks
Bench: Steve Clark, Jalen Robinson, Chris Durkin, Ian Harkes, Bruno Miranda, Dane Kelly, Patrick Mullins
With Kofi Opare joining Taylor Kemp, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Russell Canouse, Ulises Segura, and Nick DeLeon on the injury report, Ben Olsen has 20 healthy players to choose from. Travis Worra and Jared Jeffrey are virtually certain to be the odd men out. Ousted, Fisher, Mora, Birnbaum, and Asad are likely to start despite playing 120 minutes in Tuesday’s Open Cup game against North Carolina FC.
Projected Sounders starting 11: (4231) - Stefan Frei; Kelvin Leerdam, Kim Kee-Hee, Chad Marshall, Nouhou Tolo; Jordy Delem, Cristian Roldan; Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey, Alex Roldan; Will Bruin
A lot of guys are injured for Seattle, none more important than Jordan Morris. Meanwhile, Roman Torres (Panama) and Gustav Svensson (Sweden) are off in Russia playing in the World Cup. Lodeiro didn’t make Uruguay’s roster, though, and he’s a significant boost for Brian Schmetzer.
Other than that...well, friggin’ Will Bruin is there, so United probably needs to bag a few goals today to guarantee a win.
Referee: Sorin Stoica
Available TV: NewsChannel 8 and regional affiliates (check the link for the over-the-air alternate channel in your area), including CW Richmond in RVA.
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What do we have to say about it?: We spent the back half of Filibuster talking this one over with Dave Clark, shaded our predictions towards optimism, and looked over the Sounders likely lineup. Later this morning, we’ll have a question exchange to get more of a feel of what’s going on with Seattle.
What are you drinking?: A pint of Calvert Brewing Company’s Good Company pale ale. Nice balance of citrus hoppiness and malt, I gladly recommend it.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos continued good times on the west coast!