by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)
Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. After 33 matches in the league, six matches in the CONCACAF Champions League, and three matches in the US Open Cup, it has all come down to this, the season finale. If we win, we are through and clear to the MLS Cup tournament. If we lose we will likely not qualify. If we draw, things get extremely murky (see below). Playing in the Evergreen of Seattle, we have only lost twice in 10 matches to the Salt Lake. We have the advantage. We have the best supporters in the league. Whether you be at Royal Brougham Park, at the pub with members of the Green Family, or minding yourself on the setee at home, support for this match is vital. I have faith in our boys in Green, and I know you do as well. Join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!
The Good News
Seattle have only lost one in their last seven matches. Salt Lake have had a tough time of it and haven’t won a match in their last six. All-time in the league, against RSL at home, the Sounders have won six of the 10 meetings, outscoring RSL by 10 goals. We’ve got Alonso back from suspension and that’s no small thing.
The Bad News
After a torrid run of form in which the Sounders won four consecutive matches, we haven’t managed to win either of the last two. Losing Ivanschitz at this late stage is a bad sign. We have enough depth to cover, but it bears mentioning that with Ivanschitz out, we lose out on his many matches of European experience. He is not expected to play this afternoon. After everything the Sounders have been through this season, MLS Cup qualification has come down to the last match – as it did last season.
MLS Cup Qualification Scenarios
A Sounders loss coupled with wins by Portland (@ Vancouver) and Kansas City (v. San Jose) would see Seattle off with no Cup appearance.
A Sounders win ensures qualification regardless of what Portland or Kansas City do.
If the Sounders lose and Kansas City and/or Portland both draw, the three clubs would be level on 45 points with the first two tie-breakers being wins and goal difference.
If the Sounders draw, both Kansas City and Portland would have to win to displace us.
Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Barring an act of God, you’d have to imagine Nick Rimando will start for Salt Lake. He is a veteran player with nearly 400 appearances under his belt. He has 21 caps for United States, is a five-time MLS All-Star. He’s won two MLS Cups, and three MLS Conference Championships, and a CONCACAF Gold Cup with United States. At 37, Rimando shows no signs of slowing down.
Defence – Beltran is a solid pro, with nearly 200 appearances. Glad is young with less than 50 appearances. This is mitigated by his 14 appearances at various youth levels for United States. Schuler is another solid US produced pro. Phillips has over 60 caps for Jamaica.
Midfield – Beckerman is a prototypical stopper centre-half type of midfielder. He is thoroughly a veteran with over 700 matches played and over 50 caps for United States. Beckerman is a five-time MLS All-Star and has won an MLS Cup and a CONCACAF Gold Cup with the USA. Mulholland though born in England, worked his way up through the modern incarnation of the NASL to finally earn his place in Utah two years ago. Morales is a veteran pro who played the better part of 200 matches in the Argentinian league. Add another 200 or so in MLS and you understand the type of player he is. He is a two-time MLS All-Star and won an MLS Cup with Salt Lake in 2009.
Forward – Martinez is also a veteran of Argentinian football, winning three titles with Velez Sarsfield. Movsisyan has over 30 caps for Armenia and nearly 150 matches of European experience. He is one of Salt Lake’s greatest threats to score a goal. Although young at age 24, Plata has won three national championships. He is one of only two Salt Lake players to score three goals against Seattle in the league. Plata is a dangerous scoring threat.
There are no players in the Salt Lake squad that were born in Washington State. No players in the Salt Lake squad previously played for the Sounders.
Selections for Last Match
Seattle: Frei, Mears, Torres, Marshall, Joevin Jones, Roldan, Friberg, Gómez, Lodeiro, Fernández, Morris.
Bench: Miller (gk), Scott, Alfaro, Farfan, Kovar, Fisher, Darwin Jones.
Salt Lake: Rimando, Beltran, Glad, Schuler, Phillips, Beckerman, Mulholland, Morales, Martinez, Movsisyan, Plata.
Bench: Lalo Fernandez (gk), Wingert, Olave, Sunny, Stertzer, Garcia, Allen.
OUT: Dempsey (irregular heartbeat), Ivanschitz (knee), Remick (concussion).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Evans (calf), Anderson (hamstring), Valdez (back), Marshall (ankle).
Salt Lake –
OUT: Welshman (hip surgery), Maund (broken toe), Attinella (elbow).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Movsisyan (heel).
None suspended for this match.
Seattle – Alonso fined next booking.
Salt Lake – Mulholland and Sunday fined next booking.
Sounders’ goalkeeper, Tyler Miller was originally a 2015 second round draft pick of Seattle. Funny thing happened on the way to the park though. The Woodbury, New Jersey native signed with SVN Zweibrücken of the German Regionalliga before signing with the Sounders. Miller would make 10 appearances in Germany. It must not have worked out though, as he would sign with Sounders FC 2 that July. Glad you found your way back, Tyler.
Special thanks to Brian Haberly. Without you I’m nothing, mate.