Pre-Match Analysis by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. It all comes down to this. One match. One side advances, the other returns home nursing their defeat for the next six months.

The event: The MLS Cup Quarter-Final 2nd Leg. The place: Royal Brougham Park, Occidental Avenue, Seattle, Washington. The time: 19.30 hours, Pacific Standard Time. At stake: Advancement to the MLS Cup Semi-Final.

Whitecaps FC, prepare yourselves for an object lesson in football, to be taught by Headmaster Brian Schmetzer, Head-Boy, Clint Dempsey, and the Seattle Sounders Football Club.

Link up the Green Family, wherever you may find them. At the ground. At the pub. At a mate’s house. Whatever you’ve got to do.
We will make a noise the likes of which has seldom been heard in the confines of the planet. We must lift up our Boys in Green in word and song. And that is precisely what we shall do, down to every last supporter in attendance and across the diaspora of the Sounders FC supporters groups dotting the nation. Our numbers are legion! We shall be heard!

Join me before kick-off in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

His suspension dutifully served, Clint Dempsey returns to the team to do the thing he does best, making the decisive play in a football match of major consequence. The type of match we shall see tonight, is the type of high-pressure situation that Dempsey was born to thrive in. Lucky us.

The Good News
The aggregate score of the tie is 0:0. The bulk of the Sounders’ squad are fit for selection. Dempsey has returned from suspension. I can’t imagine a universe where he doesn’t start this match.

Dempsey is a big match player, as are many of his teammates. It is fair to say that Dempsey’s quality will likely decide this cup tie.

Rodriguez, Marshall, and Alonso should be available for selection, as this match will determine whether we advance or face elimination.

Generally speaking, we are the better defending team with two of the best centre-halves in the league, and arguably the best goalkeeper in Stefan Frei.

When the Sounders play at home in front of the best supporters in the league, more times than not, the result is a victory. Whitecaps FC, welcome to Green Hell.

The Bad News
The aggregate score of the tie is 0:0.

Morris is listed as out due to his hamstring injury. Roldan, who has a vital defensive role to play, is carrying a booking and would miss the next match should he be booked tonight.

In order for the Sounders FC to advance, we must win this match. No draw result will see us advance unless it’s a 0:0 draw and we advance on penalties. This leaves little margin for error.

The Whitecaps have a lot of players that could hurt us, most notably Fredy Montero, whom we know so well. It is worthy of note that the Caps’ ‘keeper, Marinovic has played well enough this season to displace incumbent Ousted. which should be considered in any final analysis.

Should the match end in any draw other than 0:0, Vancouver advances. The pressure cooker intensity of this type of match sometimes generates unexpected mental mistakes. Let’s hope that it’s the Caps that are the ones that lose their nerve in tonight’s massive test.

Speculation & Musings
Last match, Vancouver favoured Nosa as a #10 over Reyna. Reyna replaced Nosa on 62’ They could flip that for this match, or start Nosa again. Bolanos was favoured over Techera at right wing. Techera replaced Bolanos on 76’. This deployment was largely favoured because Techera and Reyna aren’t yet fully fit.

Last match for the Sounders, Shipp was favoured over Neagle at right wing. Shipp was replaced by Alonso on 74’. Delem who had deputised for the ailing Alonso was replaced on 64’ by Svensson. Marshall, who had taken a knock, was replaced by Neagle on 78’.

Sounders manager Brian Schmetzer, opted to play Jones at left wing, with Nouhou sliding into Jones’ normal left-back position. It is my estimation that the Sounders are more effective when Jones starts at left-back, with a naturally attack-minded player at left-wing. As this way, Jones can sneak into the attack with overlapping runs.

With Rodriguez’ fitness in doubt and Morris unavailable, there were limited options for a left-sided midfielder on Sunday. Although Kovar certainly has the skill, he has only started 13 league matches in four years for the Sounders, which perhaps reveals that the club still feels he is a work in progress. It’s sort of the same story for Delem who just joined the club this spring. Delem started only nine matches for the Sounders this season, several of those playing in the back four. Wingo might have been able to play on the left side, but again has limited experience playing first team MLS football, and has yet to start a match in the Sounders eleven.

Dempsey’s return to the side also begs questions of the selector. Will he play at centre-forward? #10? Right-wing? Bruin is really more of a target striker than a winger, so moving him to another position to accommodate Dempsey, would likely reduce Bruin’s effectiveness as an attacker. If Dempsey is the #10, does Lodeiro move to right or left wing? If Lodeiro is deployed on the right side, it likely relegates Neagle to the bench again, thus taking potential scoring punch and experience off the pitch.

Will Marshall be fit enough to start at centre-half? If he isn’t, will Svensson be fit enough to replace him?

Will Alonso start at defensive midfield? If not, will Svensson, Shipp, or Delem take his place?

Will Rodriguez be fit enough to play? Will Morris?

Lots of questions, lots of possibilities, fewer answers.

In summation, I believe the Sounders are strongest With Frei in goal, Jones and Leerdam at full-back, Torres and Marshall at centre-half, Alonso and Roldan holding, Morris at left-wing, Dempsey, Lodeiro, and Bruin switching between the #10 position, right-wing, and centre-forward.

If the injury report is accurate at kick-off, I think the gaffer will select Nouhou or Jones with Leerdam at full-back, Torres with Marshall or Svensson at centre-half, Roldan holding with Alonso or Svensson, Jones at left-wing, and some combination of Bruin, Lodeiro, and Dempsey switching roles in the final third.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper –
Marinovic, 26, is a New Zealand international. His previous experience is in German football with the bulk of his 100+ appearances coming for SV Wehen II and SpVgg Unterhaching. He recently completed his first season with Vancouver having appeared five times with one clean sheet. He was between the pipes for the Whitecaps’ 5:0-midweek pasting of the Fauxquakes in the MLS Cup play-in round, four days ago. Marinovic has earned 20 New Zealand caps.

Defence –
Parker, 24, is a domestic product who played his NCAA football at St. Johns, he has played nearly 80 games as a professional.

Waston, 29, has 16 caps for Costa Rica and over 170 appearances as a pro.

Nerwinski, 23, is newly recruited out of UConn (NCAA). The New Jersey native played 72 matches at Storrs, scoring five times. He’s played 19 MLS matches in his first year.

de Jong, 31, developed by PSV Eindhoven is a veteran of 165 matches in Dutch football and nearly 70 matches of German football. He’s played over 30 matches of MLS football and has 55 caps for Canada.

Midfield –
Tchani, 28, is a Cameroonian-born naturalised American developed by Beach FC and Virginia (NCAA) with over 170 pro appearances. He has earned caps for both United States and Cameroon. Tchani moved to Pacific Boulevard just this year after having played 130 times for Columbus.

Ghazal, 25, is an Egyptian national who appeared 107 times for CD Nacional of Portugal before signing with Vancouver this August during the summer transfer window. He has played seven times for the Whitecaps this season.

Nosa, 26, is a Nigerian international, developed by Sharks FC. His professional career spans 13 years and six countries. He has played 310 career matches, scoring 51 goals, in the leagues of Nigeria, Norway, Israel, Spain, Turkey, arriving in Vancouver just this September moving from Rizespor. He started the last match for Vancouver as a #10 when I had expected Yordy Reyna to fill that position. Nosa has earned 15 caps for Nigeria, scoring twice for his nation. When he moved from Hapoel Tel Aviv to Real Betis it was for a transfer fee of €1.2 million. Nosa has played one match of league football for the Whitecaps, and once for them on Sunday in MLS Cup.

Bolanos, 33, Developed by Saprissa. Played 170 times in Denmark and Norway. 48 total MLS Matches and five goals for Vancouver over two seasons. Bolanos has 74 caps and six goals for Costa Rica.

Shea, 27, is a United States international developed by Texans SC and the IMG Academy residency programme. His 11-year pro career has seen him play 186 matches, 134 of them in MLS for Dallas, Orlando City, and Vancouver. Between 2013-14, Shea attempted to establish himself in the English Premier League with a £2.5 million move from FC Dallas to Stoke City FC. Shea would play only three matches for Stoke to be followed by loan spells at Barnsley and Birmingham City. In 2015 left Britain, returning to MLS with a move to Orlando City. This is Shea’s first season for the Whitecaps, playing 25 times for them in the league and scoring four goals. Shea has 34 United States caps with four international goals.

Forward –
Montero, 30, We know him all too well. Success at his Colombian teams, then in Seattle, and then in Europe and China. His transfer fee to Sporting Lisbon totalled $2.75M. His transfer fee from Sporting to Tianjin TEDA was €5M. His career goals: matches ratio is over 36%. Montero has played 26 matches for Vancouver this season, scoring 13 goals. He is the most dangerous attacker in the Vancouver side.

Familiar Faces
Backup goalkeeper, Spencer Richey: This dude is Mister Seattle. Born in Seattle. Played for Tacoma Tide, Washington Crossfire, Puget Sound Gunners, and NCAA career at UDub. Add to this eight USA U-17 caps. Rosales played 86 times for Seattle Sounders FC scoring 12 goals. Montero played 119 times for the Sounders scoring 47 Goals and helped us win three US Open Cups.

Sounders FC from: Frei, Meredith, Miller, Alfaro, Fisher, Jones, Leerdam, Nouhou, Torres, Delem, Kovar, Lodeiro, Mallace, Mathers, Neagle, Roldan, Shipp, Svensson, Wingo, Adekoya, Bruin, Dempsey.

Vancouver from: Marinovic, Ousted, Richey, de Jong, Harvey, Levis, Maund, Nerwinski, Parker, Seiler, Waston, Williams, Bolanos, Bustos, Davies, Ghazal, Hurtado, Ibini, Igiebor, Jacobson, Mezquida, Reyna, Rosales, Shea, Tchani, Techera, Teibert, Montero.

Injury List
Sounders FC –
OUT: Evans (back), Morris (hamstring).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Alonso (quadriceps), Rodriguez (quadriceps), Marshall (hip).

Vancouver –
OUT: Edgar (PCL, MCL), Laba (ACL).

none suspended this match from either side.
Out next match with next booking –
Sounders FC: Roldan.
Vancouver: Ghazal, Nosa.

Fun Fact
I’ll be at the ground tonight in the Brougham End thanks to my long-time mate, Blake, representing the great ECS for making it possible. We’re going to make a noise so loud the earth itself is going to shake. Good times.