by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)
Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. With Ohio and the utter fiasco midweek that took place in the Buckeye state firmly in the rear-view mirror, Sounders FC return home to the Evergreen for a Sunday night fixture under the lights at Royal Brougham Park against the Creamsicles from Houston, formerly known as the San Jose Earthquakes. Consistency seems to elude our boys in Green, much like that person you once fancied who utterly ghosted you after that fateful first date. With only four wins to our credit and the season nearly half over, that strange sensation you’re beginning to feel in the pit of your belly is the edge of panic. Before you begin the lengthy spiral into despair and begin wading your way through the five stages of grief, you have to know that it wouldn’t be the first time the Sounders have started crap only to finish strong. Something I wrote about at length at this time last June. Whether it be a blockbuster transfer signing when the Transfer Window opens in July, such as it was for Nicolas Lodeiro when we signed him from Boca Juniors last summer, or the side as it is getting it’s collective crap together, you’d have to imagine something will change. Sooner rather than later. As I’ve been saying for the past couple of months, these are the times that demand the utmost in support from the Green Family. Gather your mates up and head to Occidental Avenue if you can get hold of tickets, and if you can’t meet up with your mates for a viewing party at the local pub. It takes more than a crap patch of form to shake my faith in our boys in Green. On Sunday night, wherever you may be, join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!
The Good News
At this time last season we had only one more win that we do now, and the same amount of points from 14 matches. As we know now, it all turned out pretty well for us. Houston have only taken one more point from their last five matches than we have. We have never lost to Houston at Royal Brougham Park since we joined MLS in 2009. All-time, we have only lost four times to Houston out of 15 matches played. We have lost only once at home this season, whereas our orange and white clad opponents have zero wins, one draw, and five losses on the road. As DaMarcus Beasley has been called into the United States team, we won’t have to face his skill and experience. According to the numbers, we defend just as well (or just as poorly if you’re a glass-half-empty person) as Houston does.
The Bad News
Houston currently sits 5th in the league table, where as we currently languish in 18th, fourth from bottom. Houston’s last match was a resounding 5:1 thumping of Salt Lake, or as we have come to know trips to Houston: The auld Dowling Street welcome. In our matches against common opponents, including each other in the season opener, we have taken only 12 points from those 10 matches. Houston have taken 18 points against the same opponents with six wins to our three. Houston are tied for the second best goalscoring total in the league with 27 goals in 14 matches. They average about a half a goal more per match than we do. In addition to missing Wingo, Bruin, and possibly Roman Torres through injury, we will be without both Dempsey and Morris, who have been recalled to the United States team for World Cup qualifying. Ah the joys of international fixture clutter, we now finally begin to understand what the other clubs of the world have been pissing and moaning about for so long. Adekoya got a runout midweek at The Fairgrounds, but the 21-year-old striker in waiting saw little success, and even less service from the midfield. With Dempsey and Morris with the Yanks, and Bruin hurt, Adekoya is our only cover at striker, save for young Victor Mansaray, currently on loan at FC Cincinnatti. Something will have to be done about this, at least in the short-term barring Bruin’s return to fitness. It was announced today that Dempsey, Morris, and Roldan were named to the United States’ 40-man squad for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. I understand Oalex Anderson is currently out of contract. What’s the international dialing code for St. Vincent and the Grenadines? The all-time numbers say Sounders for the win, and the numbers from this season (Sounders’ Recent form vs. Home Record added to Houston’s perch in the table and crap away record) suggest that the matchup is a crapshoot, too close to call.
Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Tyler Deric, 28, will likely be the man between the sticks. Although Willis, 28, has equivalent experience, Deric has established himself as first choice, playing every match this season. Produced by North Carolina (NCAA) and Houston, his only MLS club has been Houston where he has appeared nearly 70 times.
Defence – DeLaGarza, 29, Has over 200 matches as a professional, most of which came with the Los Angeles Galaxy. He signed with Houston this season. Machado, 32, has played nearly 300 times for clubs in Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, and Costa Rica. Machado also has 65 caps for Panama. Leonardo, 29, Has nearly 100 appearances as a pro, and was produced by Sao Paulo FC Academy. Remick, 25, was a former Sounder (see below) for four seasons. He moved to Houston this season on a free transfer. He’s played only five times for his new club in their 14 matches this season. He has nearly 60 matches of MLS experience in his career.
Midfield – Clark, 34, has played over 320 times in MLS and has enjoyed spells at Eintracht Frankfurt and Stabæk totalling 27 matches. Cabezas, 26, was a loan signing from Colombian giant Deportivo Cali in the off-season. He has played over 150 times as a professional including nearly 75 appearances for Deportivo Cali and over 130 times total in top-level Columbian football. Alex, 28, has over 200 appearances as a professional, nearly 90 matches of his experience were played in Switzerland with Wohlen and Gossau. He was produced by Gremio, of Brazil.
Forward – Elis, 21, is a recent loan signing from Monterrey of the Mexican Liga MX. He has scored five goals in 12 matches this season for Houston. The Honduran national played 62 times for Olimpia scoring 25 goals, and has 16 caps, 3 goals for Honduras. Erick Torres, 24, has played nearly 80 times in MLS scoring 32 goals. Produced by Chivas of Guadalajara, he played over 70 matches for the club that developed him and over 40 matches on loan at Chivas USA in MLS. He has represented Mexico 21 times at youth levels and has four senior caps. For Houston, this season, he has scored 10 goals in 13 matches (The same amount as Dempsey, Bruin, and Lodeiro combined). Manotas, 21, has over 70 professional appearances and was produced by Columbian side Uniautonoma. He played 25 matches for Uniautonoma before moving to Houston in 2015. He has four goals in 13 matches for Houston this season.
Former Sounders FC players Jalil Anibaba and Dylan Remick now play for Houston. Anibaba played 16 times for Sounders FC in 2014. Remick made 44 appearances for Seattle and was a substitute defender for us just last season.
Selections for Last Match
Sounders FC: Frei, Delem, Svensson, Alfaro, Fisher, Fernandez, Alonso, Roldan, Jones, Adekoya, Lodeiro.
Bench: Miller (gk), Evans, Roman Torres, Mathers, Kovar, Shipp, Tolo.
Houston: Deric, DeLaGarza, Machado, Leonardo, Remick, Clark, Cabezas, Alex, Elis, Erick Torres, Manotas.
Bench: Willis (gk), Anibaba, Garcia, Wenger, Rodriguez, Sanchez, Garcia.
OUT: Wingo (ankle), Bruin (elbow).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Roman Torres (hamstring).
OUT: Malki (ACL), Alexander (knee).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Quioto (ankle).
None suspended from either side.
Former Olympic Boxing Gold Medalist, Oscar de la Hoya (d/b/a Golden Boy Promotions) is one of the four members of Houston’s ownership group and has a 25% stake in the club. The majority of shares (50%) are still held by Anschutz Entertainment Group who own the LA Galaxy.