by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR), Oakland, CA
Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. Our recent penalty kick victory in the US Open Cup notwithstanding, the challenges to this Seattle Sounders squad in the league keep mounting. This Saturday we meet Toronto FC near the shores of Lake Ontario for an afternoon MLS league matinée. This TFC squad has a lethal balance of veteran experience and promising young talent. Toronto were crowned Canadian Champions three days previous with their victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC – 2:2 on aggregate with the tie broken by the Away Goals Rule. With a number of key players unavailable for selection, Toronto may struggle against, nearly full strength Sounders FC squad. If you pray for the losing streak to end, make it a good one. Get ye to a viewing party and raise your glasses in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!
The Good News
Provided Evans can pass a late fitness test, it will be only Torres who is unavailable for selection through injury. The statistics favor Sounders over TFC as we are 7-1-2 against them all-time, and we are also 3-0-1 when playing them in Canada. With Irwin (their starting ‘keeper), Altidore, Morgan, Bradley, and former Treecutter, Will Johnson out, you would think it increases our chances of catching TFC at a vulnerable time. TFC have only one win out of their last six matches in the league, dropping three with losses. Regardless of their recent Canadian title, TFC are only two places in the MLS table above us at 15th. This season Toronto are only 2-1-2 at home.
The Bad News
Sebastian Giovinco has a strike rate of 30 goals in 48 matches for Toronto. Giovinco’s 8 goals in the league total more than half of the 13 goals scored by the Sounders this season. Sounders have dropped five of the last six matches in the league. Sounders remain 17th in the MLS table, with Colorado Rapids 16 points clear at the top. It must be borne in mind that the statistics that favour us versus TFC were established with half of a squad who no longer play for us.
TFC coached by former USA international defender Greg Vanney who played 65 times for French club SC Bastia. The referee for Saturday’s match will be Kevin Stott. In the series between the sides, Toronto have been booked 20 times, Seattle 14 with one sending off.
TFC defender Justin Morrow played 71 times for San Jose Earthquakes. Canadian, Will Johnson appeared 69 times for arch-rival Portland, winning an MLS Cup with them in 2015.
Selections for Last Match (US Open Cup round of 16 and Canadian Championship Final)
Sounders FC: Miller, Fisher, Scott, Alfaro, Remick, Sturgis, Roldan, Mathers, Gomez, Valdez, Anderson.
Subs Used: Friberg, Joevin Jones, Morris.
Toronto FC: Bono, Hagglund, Zavaleta, Moor, Morrow, Delgado, Osorio, Cheyrou, Johnson, Giovinco, Babouli.
Bench: Roberts (gk), Williams, Bloom, Chapman, Endoh, Edwards, Hamilton.
OUT: Torres (ACL)
MATCHDAY DECISION: Evans (calf)
OUT: Altidore (hamstring), Lovitz (knee), Morgan (foot), Irwin (quad), Bradley (knee), Johnson (broken leg)
Seattle: none suspended.
Alonso on booking watchlist, out next match with next booking.
Toronto: Williams (sent off).
Morrow on booking watchlist, out next match with next booking.
How is it that Sounders got two consecutive home games against TFC for the 2014 and 2015 seasons? Toronto goalkeeper, Clinton Irwin once scored a goal during his tenure at Capital City FC in Ottawa. Toronto ‘keeper, Quillian Roberts scored an equaliser versus England in the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Roberts is the only goalkeeper to score in a FIFA finals tournament. Sounders centre-half Tony Alfaro was twice a High School champion at Santa Barbara High School. Born in Michoacán, Mexico, Tony’s family moved to Santa Barbara, California when he was young.