SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC v. MINNESOTA UNITED FC – Pre-match analysis

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. Oh, happy day! The Sounders are riding high on an eight match unbeaten streak and this week’s vict- I mean opponents are Minnesota United. That’s right, the Loons travel from the land o’ lakes to the Evergreen to meet the Sounders FC for a Sunday night showdown at Royal Brougham Park. It’s only the second ever meeting between the sides this season and in the league all-time. Gather your Green family where ye may. I’m headed into Seattle myself to catch this one at the park. Join us at the ground if you can. If you can’t manage a ticket or aren’t in town, find a local viewing party at a pub near you and invite all your mates to flip some beer mats. Join me before kick-off in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

leerdam
One of the things in common with our four clean sheets in a row is that it coincides with Kelvin Leerdam’s emergence in the team.

The Good News
Only Toronto FC and Houston with their current six match unbeaten runs are the closest in the league to our league-best eight match unbeaten streak. We have clawed our way up to 6th position in the league table. We have won five of our last six matches and have only lost two of our last 13. Minnesota United are 21st in the league table, only one place above bottom. The only player expected to be unavailable for Seattle is Brad Evans, who is currently on injury list with a back problem. Another interesting component to our blistering form is that we haven’t conceded a goal in four matches. Soundersfc.com correlated this list of clean sheets with Leerdam’s entry into the team. Certainly food for thought. The Loons have dropped four of their last seven matches and only won a single match in that stretch. Minnesota United have yet to win on the road and only managed a draw twice in nine away contests. In stark relief, the Sounders FC have only lost once at home in 11 matches and have won seven within the friendly confines on Occidental Avenue. Against common opponents in the league, Minnesota United have lost four more times than we have. We are scoring at a fractionally better rate than MUFC, and our defence is conceding at a rate very close to one goal for every two conceded by the Loons. By the numbers, it looks like a walkover for the Sounders FC and that’s what makes me kind of nervous.

The Bad News
This is the return match, following our 0:4 victory two weeks prior at St. Anthony Avenue across the street from the University of Minnesota, MUFC’s temporary home. It was a funny kind of match though, as the scoreline suggests total dominance by our Sounders, yet the first 20 or so minutes of the match saw the Loons pressing high, and generating scoring chances of reasonable quality. An objective observer would say that in addition to our skilful play and hatful of goals, we were a bit lucky to survive the first bit of the match unscathed. The Loons have no regular first-team players out to injury and you would expect that top MUFC goalscorer, Christian Ramirez will be healthy enough to reclaim his place in the team. MUFC added three players in the transfer window, apprentice goalkeeper, Alex Kapp, veteran Columbus Crew midfielder Ethan Finlay, and Costa Rican winger/defender Jose Leiton. Whether or not any of them will feature in today’s match is a matter for debate. Simon Borg of MLS.com seems to think that Finlay will play rather than Ibarra. Only the matchday team sheet will say for certain. It is safe to say, however, that a return to the team from injury for Ramirez and the recent transfer additions generate a scenario in which the MUFC side for tomorrow may be substantially different from the one we faced in Minneapolis. The above musings are the closest I can come to finding a scrap of doubt about tonight’s result.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper –
Shuttleworth, 30, is a domestic product developed by Loyola and SUNY Buffalo (NCAA). He has played nearly 150 matches at MLS level between his time with New England and now with Minnesota United.

Defence –
Thiesson, 29, is a Swiss national with over 200 matches experience in the Swiss league.

Boxall, 28, is a New Zealand national who played 19 times for Vancouver Whitecaps and then bounced from Australian league clubs to a South African side before moving to Minneapolis. He has over 120 matches as a professional under his belt, and 27 caps for New Zealand.

Calvo, 25, is a Costa Rican national developed by CD Saprissa. Between matches, at Herediano and Saprissa he has totalled nearly 140 matches of Costa Rican league football. Calvo has 25 caps and three goals for Costa Rica.

Burch, 33, is a US-born player, developed by Evansville (NCAA), and Maryland (NCAA). His MLS experience currently resides at 224 matches, 49 of which were played with Sounders FC. In 2003, Burch earned five caps with USA youth sides.

Midfield –
Cronin, 30, is a domestic product, produced by Wake Forest (NCAA). He has played over 240 matches of MLS football with Toronto FC, San Jose, Colorado, and now Minnesota United. Cronin has two caps for United States.

Ibson, 33, is a Brazilian national produced by Flamengo. He’s done a bit of travelling over the years with stays at Porto, Spartak Moscow, and Bologna before moving to Minneapolis. He has nearly 370 professional matches under his belt having scored 36 goals.

Nicholson, 22, is a Scottish national produced by Heart of Midlothian. He has 109 matches and 13 goals for Hearts before joining the Loons this year. He has 14 caps for Scotland youth sides.

Ibarra, 27, is a domestic product produced by Ambush Soccer Club, Taft Cougars, and UC Irvine (NCAA). He has 165 pro matches of experience but only 8 with Liga MX side Leon, and 20 with the Loons. He has scored 32 goals for his clubs and has three United States caps.

Molino, 27, is a Trinidadian national with nearly 60 matches of MLS experience and over 140 pro matches under his belt in general. He has scored 43 goals in his career. He has 39 caps and 18 goals for Trinidad & Tobago.

Forward –
Ramirez, 26, is a domestic product from the Los Angeles metro area, developed by La Quinta High School, UC Santa Barbara (NCAA), and Concordia (NCAA II). At Concordia, Ramirez scored 41 goals in 42 matches. He has 22 matches of MLS experience and has recently rehabbed from a hamstring problem. He is United’s leading goalscorer with 11.

Familiar Faces
Minnesota United defender, Marc Burch played 49 times for the Sounders FC between 2012-13.

Squads
Sounders FC from: Frei, Miller, Meredith, Tolo, Marshall, Alfaro, Leerdam, Torres, Jones, Fisher, Svensson, Alonso, Roldan, Rodriguez, Lodeiro, Kovar, Shipp, Delem, Wingo, Mathers, Mallace, Dempsey, Morris, Bruin, Neagle, Adekoya.

Minnesota United from: Shuttleworth, McLain, Kapp, Davis, Thiesson, Taylor, Calvo, Demidov, Burch, Kallman, Kevin Venegas, Boxall, Ibson, Ibarra, Johan Venegas, Martin, Molino, Cronin, Warner, Nicholson, Finlay, Leiton, Danladi, Jome, Kadrii, Ramirez.

Injury List
Seattle –
OUT: Evans (back).
MATCHDAY DECISION: none.

Minnesota –
OUT: Anor (leg), de Villardi (Achilles), Greenspan (head).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Burch (hernia), Ramirez (hamstring), Cronin (neck)

Discipline
none suspended. Ibsen of MUFC is one booking away from a suspension.

Fun Fact
SoundersFC.com reported that on Thursday’s match between the Treecutters Reserves and S2, S2 Defender, Sam Rogers celebrated the occasion by imitating the tree-chopping celebration coined by legendary Sounder, Roger Levesque. Hilarious. The S2 would go on to win 2:1. Another victory for the Sounders Reserves!

Here’s the URL to compare the two: https://www.soundersfc.com/post/2017/08/18/watch-s2-defender-sam-rogers-does-tree-chop-celebration-providence-park

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