by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR), Oakland, CA

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. Although last weekend’s victory wasn’t particularly convincing, the result is still three points in the MLS standings. Victory can be a platform for confidence building. We are as a group trying to play a different brand of football. Our side has played, more or less the same way for years. Change and adaptation are difficult. However, I believe that the current group and staff are more than capable of setting things right, overseeing the details that will move us forward towards victory. This  theory will be put to the test at Dowling Street, Houston, Texas, as we line up against the FauxQuakes – The Houston Dynamo. I raise my glass to you all, and toast you as always: “TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!”

The Good News
With each repetition of playing football in our new formation, and with each training session, the understanding between our starting eleven looks to improve.

Jordan Morris has been conversing with the Gaffer, Sigi Schmid, and they are working together to maximise Morris’ confidence level as he adjusts to the rigors of a professional football life. Perhaps Morris has managed his self-imposed pressure and will be able to play freely enough to maximise the impact of his contributions.

Stefan Frei is a top ‘keeper, and I expect that he will be at his best in this match.

Our strike rate has been abysmal in the season so far. With Dempsey and Gómez spearheading the attack, it surely must improve.

On the whole of it, the record between Seattle and Houston favours us at 5-3-3.

Houston’s top scorer against us, Geoff Cameron (three goals), no longer plays for them as he was sold to Stoke years ago for an undisclosed amount.

At least Giles Barnes isn’t John Barnes (Liverpool and England).

The Bad News
Houston hit five goals past FC Dallas this season. The same side we had problems breaking down in the MLS Cup last year, even with the likes of Obafemi Martins, Marco Pappa, and Lamar Neagle on the pitch.

We have generated only three goals in five league matches, and we are tied with Columbus Crew SC and Colorado Rapids for the least goals scored in the league.

Centre-Half, Roman Torres remains out with an ACL tear. Should Friberg and Farfan fail matchday fitness tests, they too will be out for Sunday’s match. Valdez continues to suffer from a pesky leg problem. Seattle had considered leaving him at home. Should Valdez even travel to Houston with the team, he is not expected to line up for the kick-off.

We have never won at Dowling Street (0-2-3).

None of our top scorers against Houston (Montero, Martins, Fernández with 2 goals each) are still with the club.

Owen Coyle contends that Houston “…should have had points from every match so far this season.” If this is an accurate account, we might have quite a bit to worry about. Therefore, Houston’s 1-1-2 record is perhaps misleading.

Houston’s line-up contains: former Yank stalwarts #13 Ricardo Clark and #7 DeMarcus Beasley; expatriates from the Spanish League #5 Rodriguez (80 matches for Espanyol) and #4 Agus (91 matches for Real Madrid B); and the former favoured son of Derby County FC, #10 Giles Barnes (their skipper), who in addition to his 39 career goals, has 14 caps for Jamaica. Houston also boast a Honduran midfield maestro in #27 Garcia. These are skillful players if somewhat old, save for the 27 year-old Barnes and 28 year-old Rodriguez. It is likely that our lads will have their hands full trying to sustain any meaningful possession.

The Rest
Manager Owen Coyle was a large part of the resurgence of English club Burnley FC steering them to Premier League promotion in his first season with the club. Although Houston have a handful of players who have won professional trophies, the supporting cast – even the experienced ones, haven’t managed to and have never played or have yet to play for their countries. With most sides this would be a comfort for the opposition, but Owen Coyle has a history of getting the most from the least.

In 11 matches against Houston, Seattle have been booked 25 times and sent off twice. Houston have been booked 20 times in those 11 matches. If form holds, look for things to get a bit spiky in the tackles.

Familiar Faces
Houston defender #2 Jalil Anibaba played for the Sounders in 2014, making 16 appearances for our boys in Green.

Selections for Last Match
Houston: Willis, Anibaba, Horst, Rodríguez, Beasley, Alex, Clark, Wenger, Maidana, Miranda, Bruin.

Bench: Brown (gk), Agus, Williams, Mansally, Rocha, Manotas, Lovejoy.

Sounders FC: Frei, Mears, Evans, Marshall, Remick, Roldan, Alonso, Kovar, Ivanschitz, Dempsey, Valdez.

Bench: Miller (gk), Scott, Joevin Jones, Fisher, Morris, Gómez, Anderson.

Injury List
OUT – Warner (hamstring)
MATCHDAY DECISION – Deric (abdominal), Barnes (hamstring), Mansally (concussion)

Sounders FC:
OUT – Torres (ACL)
MATCHDAY DECISION – Friberg (MCL strain), Farfan (hamstring), Valdez (leg)

No players suspended.

Fun Fact
When the San Jose Earthquakes relocated their players and then coach Dominic Kinnear to Houston in 2005 they left behind their history, team name, logo, and statistics in San Jose belonging to the Earthquakes. Weird that the matches played by those players in orange now have nothing in common with the current Quakes’ statistics, and that stats earned when they were the Earthquakes remain part of San Jose’s legacy. Bizzare. Only in MLS.