by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)
Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. Salt Lake travel down from their high perch in the Rockies to Royal Brougham Park, home of the Sounders FC, for a Saturday afternoon throwdown. Real Salt Lake indeed. As if Utah had a king. The first third of the Sounders’ league schedule is over. The bulk of it has been rather forgettable. We are in what is commonly known as a crap vein of form. But like all things in the universe, this too will pass with time. It’s true, we’ve only won two matches of our first 11, but it is in these times that we must galvanise our resolve as a supporter’s group and be even more resolute in our backing of the side. In Nick Hornby’s “Fever Pitch”, he didn’t write “Despite their best efforts, the Arsenal were crap so we all packed it in.” He wrote about how suffering was an inescapable part of loving sport. A rite of passage for stalwart supporters. Many of the matches from this season we could write off as unlucky. That we’d had the better of the possession, or the better chances from the run of play. Our midweek midwest fixture had no such silver linings. We were outdone in nearly every category. The beauty of sport is that there’s always the next match. A chance to start over, and build a better thing. We have far too much talent in the team to produce results of such low quality. This terrible stretch of form is surely an aberration and not the normal state of affairs. So I call upon you to gather your Green Family and head out to Royal Brougham Park and generate a noise the like of which has never been heard before in the history of all football. A sound which will rattle the very fabric of space. Gather your people where ye may. Go to the park if you can or meet up for a viewing party at the local if you can’t. For I will follow the Sounders FC wherever they may go. Join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!
The Good News
Of the starters, we will only be missing Torres for certain. Possibly Alonso. In the long and short of things, that’s not so bad. Evans looks like he’s available for selection again, so that’s a positive. We’ll have Jones back from suspension, and he should help our transition through midfield quite nicely. If Demar Phillips doesn’t pass his fitness test, that’s another good thing too, as the Jamaican not only defends well but provides an extra dimension to the RSL attack. Our last five matches were marginally better than Salt Lake’s. Although Salt Lake won their most recent match against NYCFC, they dropped four in a row before that. We’ve only lost once at home this season. Salt Lake are crap on the road this time around with only one win out of six attempts. All-time we are 7-2-2 when playing Salt Lake at Royal Brougham Park. Then there’s the intangible of the best supporters in the league. Always a good thing. Salt Lake have had terrible trouble scoring goals this season, averaging less than a goal per match.
The Bad News
We’ve lost our last three matches in a row. We’ve been outscored 7:1 in the past two matches. We have won only two of our first 11 matches. Both sides are conceding nearly two goals per match. The all-time series is a dead heat at 8-4-8. Against our eight common opponents this season, we have nearly identical records. This is likely to be an ugly affair. With RSL at 19th in the table, and we at 21st tempers on both sides are likely frayed. Professionalism and discipline mitigate this somewhat, but this all-time series has seen 68 bookings and five sent off in only 20 league matches. So strap in.
Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Nick Rimando, 37, truly is the gift that keeps on giving for RSL. He’s played nearly 430 times as a professional. Has 22 caps for United States, and is generally a fine goalkeeper. Can’t see Van Oekel replacing him.
Defence – Wingert, 34, is the old pro of this group with over 300 matches at MLS level. Maund, 26, Has 70 games at MLS level and played at youth levels for both Trinidad & Tobago and United States. Schuler, 29, has played over 80 times for RSL. Schmidt, 23, is a local Washington product. Although he’s only played five times for RSL and was just drafted and signed this year, you’d have to imagine there’s quality there.
Midfield – Mulholland, 28, has played 93 times for RSL scoring 13 goals. The naturalised Englishman has always presented problems for us and I expect it will be no different today. Beckerman, 35, the pastafarian. Provides most of the bite in midfield for this RSL side. His resumé is impressive and includes over 400 appearances in MLS, 260 for RSL. Add to this his 58 United States caps, and 36 career goals. Rusnak, 22, is a Czech-born, Slovakian international, who did the whole bounce around Europe thing. His 61 matches for FC Groningen in Netherlands though is some testament to his quality.
Forward – Movsysian, 29, and Plata, 25, can cut a defence apart in many different ways. Movsysian has 35 caps/10 goals for Armenia, and overall has 93 goals in 260 appearances. Plata has 35 goals in 160 appearances and 4 caps/2 goals for Ecuador. Add Savarino, 20, to the mix and you get a young Venezuelan national with 32 goals in 132 appearances.
RSL defender, Schmidt was born in Washington state, played for UW, and also played for Washington Crossfire. Chad Barrett played 44 matches for Sounders FC scoring 12 goals.
Selections for Last Match
Sounders FC: Frei, Delem, Marshall, Alfaro, Fisher, Fernandez, Roldan, Svensson, Morris, Lodeiro, Bruin.
Bench: Miller (gk), Evans, Tolo, Mathers, Shipp, Adekoya, Dempsey.
Salt Lake: Rimando, Wingert, Maund, Schuler, Schmidt, Mulholland, Beckerman, Rusnak, Savarino, Movsisyan, Plata.
Bench: Van Oekel (gk), Dunk, Sunny, Hernandez, Silva, Velazco, Holness.
Sounders FC –
OUT: Torres (hamstring), Wingo (ankle).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Kovar (groin), Alonso (quad), Tolo (shoulder).
Salt Lake –
OUT: Barrett (knee), Horst (knee).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Allen (quad), Phillips (hamstring), Beltran (back).
No players suspended for this match.
Four players are missing from the RSL roster due to their selection to the USA U-20 World Cup squad. Sounders’ Victor Mansaray, currently on loan at Cincinnati United, was called up for a U-20 camp in February and was not recalled after.
Dwyer was not suspended for the midweek fixture in Kansas City. The mlssoccer.com website had not taken down the listing for his suspension from the previous match from accumulated bookings. So their error for leaving it posted compounded by mine in mistaking the suspension for Wednesday’s match. Apologies.