SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC v. HOUSTON DYNAMO MLS Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg, Royal Brougham Park, Seattle, Washington.

Pre-Match analysis by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. I hope that you exulted and rejoiced nine days ago because the lads have managed the impossible. Sounders FC won at Houston! A historic event. To cut down the Creamsicles, right in the midst of the hated fortress on Dowling Street. Exquisite. Up 2:0 in the tie, we have only to finish the job. We get to make the attempt at Royal Brougham Park in the Evergreen of Seattle. If the Sounders win this cup tie, and every indicator points to a positive result, it will set up a rematch of last year’s MLS Cup final in the frosty confines of Toronto. If all goes well tonight ECS and her subgroups had better pack their thermal underwear. Saddle up, Green Family! We’ve got work to do. Link up when and where you can, hopefully at the ground tonight. Raise every voice to our boys in Green. Make noise, be merry, sing well, and support the lads. Buckle up. It’s going to be a woolly one. Before kick-off, join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

creamsicles2
In space, no one can hear creamsicles melt. Lock up your daughters and hide the animals, Seattle. Prepare for…INVASION OF THE CREAMSICLES!!!

The Good News
Sounders are up 2:0 in the tie before anyone even kicks a football tonight. Jordo might be back in the team, so hopefully, he’s fit. With both Elis and Anibaba out for Houston, the Sounders are positioned to cement their place in the final.

The Bad News
Houston have their backs to the wall. Much has been achieved in this world with nothing but desperation and adrenaline. We’d better be on our sharpest watch. As I wrote last week, Houston have sneaky good quality. To fail to respect that would be foolish.

Speculation & Musings
It would be bad for the Sounders to play an understrength side, and possibly crash out of the MLS Cup.

It would be equally bad for the Sounders to play those that could benefit from a rest and they hurt themselves worse. A difficult quandary for Sounders FC Manager, Brian Schmetzer.

It’s possible Wilmer Cabrera might select Manotas over Quioto at left wing to replace the suspended Elis, but I doubt it. Quioto is a bit older and a lot more experienced.

Lodiero failing to convert his penalty kick in Houston was deeply troubling. I do love a good redemption story though. Perhaps he’ll have a chance to hit one tonight.

Unless closely managed, the combination of Erick Torres, Quioto, Martinez, and Alex could conceivably cut us apart should we lumber out to a sluggish start.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper –
Willis, 29, is a domestic product developed by Denver (NCAA). Saw limited playing time with Houston this year playing in only eight league matches. During his seven-year MLS career, he has compiled 60 matches of MLS experience with 11 clean sheets. Won the US Open Cup with DC United in 2013.

Defence –
Remick, 25, developed by Brown (NCAA), was a former Sounder (see below) for four seasons. He moved to Houston this season on a free transfer. He’s played 14 times for his new club this season. He has 58 matches of MLS experience in his career.

Machado, 32, has played nearly 300 times for clubs in Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, and Costa Rica. Moved from Saprissa to Houston in December of 2016 and played 33 matches for his new club. Machado once served a two-year ban after testing positive for a banned substance. Machado has 65 caps for Panama.

Senderos, 32, is a Swiss national developed by Servette. His career reads like a whistle-stop tour of European football destinations. He is most known for his time at Arsenal (where he moved from Servette for £1.35M) and Fulham. In addition, Senderos played for Servette, had loan spells at AC Milan and Everton, and saw time at Valencia, Aston Villa, Grasshoppers, and Rangers. Released from Ibrox in May, he joined Houston in the summer transfer window in August. Though he only played twice for Houston in the league, he has played every match in the MLS Cup so far.

Beasley, 35, is a decorated footballer with a career that has seen him play in America, the Netherlands, England, Scotland, Germany, and Mexico. Produced by the IMG Academy’s USA U-17 residency programme, Da Marcus has been capped 126 times for United States scoring 17 goals. He has played 184 matches over his nine years in MLS, 86 of those for Houston, scoring twice. In the current American domestic player pool, it would be difficult to find his equal in quality, experience, or honours. Still has pace, although not quite the quicksilver variety that he had earlier in his career.

Midfield –
Alexander, 29, is a domestic footballer developed by Indiana (NCAA). He moved from Montreal to Houston in 2016 and has since played 22 matches for his current club. His seven-year MLS career has seen him play in 191 matches scoring eight goals. Alexander has two caps for United States.

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. In this, his first year with Houston he played 27 matches in the league, and all four MLS Cup matches.

Alex, 28, has over 240 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. His six-year MLS career has seen him play over 150 matches for Chicago and Houston, scoring 12 goals. He has 62 appearances and seven goals for Houston. He has played all four matches in the MLS Cup.

Martinez, 22, is an Argentine national produced by River Plate. He has also seen spells at Tenerife and Braga. Martinez moved from Braga to Houston for €1.68M in July of the 2017 summer transfer window. Played nine league matches in his first year for Houston, and has played in all four MLS Cup matches. Martinez has 10 youth caps for Argentina.

Quioto, 26, another of Houston’s burgeoning Honduran contingent, might be the most likely replacement for the suspended Elis. Once scored 38 goals in 96 matches for Olimpia in the Honduran league. Has 39 caps and seven goals for Honduras. Has played all four MLS Cup matches. In this, his first season for Houston, he played 22 times in the league, scoring seven goals.

Forward –
Erick Torres, 24, has played over 90 times in MLS scoring 36 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 seven senior caps. For Houston, this season, he has scored 14 goals in 49 matches, with all his goals scored this season. He has played in three 2017 MLS Cup matches.

Familiar Faces
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.

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

Houston from: Willis, Brown, Beasley, Kevin Garcia, Hunter, Machado, Remick, Leonardo, Senderos, Alex, Alexander, Cabezas, Clark, Escalante, Boniek Garcia, Holland, Lucatero, Martinez, Memo Rodriguez, Ward, Wenger, Manotas, Quioto, Sanchez, Erick Torres.

Injury List
(note: This is all relative to MLS.com’s injury list. Keeping in mind that this is cup football, barring a shredded ligament or broken bone you’ll just as likely see a player in the team as not.)

Sounders FC –
OUT: Evans (back), Alonso (quadriceps).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Morris (hamstring).

Houston –
OUT: Malki (ACL), DeLaGarza (ACL).
MATCHDAY DECISION: none.

Discipline
Suspensions:
Sounders FC: Ramon Torres (2nd booking).
Houston: Elis (2nd booking), Anibaba (sent off), Deric (see below).

Note: Although Deric’s innocence or guilt in this matter has yet to be determined, it didn’t seem correct to simply write ‘Off-field conduct’ as a reason for his suspension as it was reported on the MLS.com’s Discipline Report page. Tyler Deric has been suspended pending the results of investigations by both MLS and local law enforcement into domestic violence charges. I direct those further interested in this matter to this article in the Houston Chronicle. It’s not for me to write any more about it one way or the other. May the Light protect us all.

Note: The players listed below carry a booking into this match, but it doesn’t matter, as all players’ disciplinary slates are cleared before the MLS Cup Final. I wonder who’s going to use their blank cheque to have a go at someone tonight. Pay close attention should the aggregate become lopsided or with full-time close at hand. Hopefully, at this stage of the match, neither Dempsey nor Lodiero will need to be on the pitch. What a densely stupid rule. Perhaps MLS should re-name their subhead ‘Lack of Discipline Report’ or ‘Discipline Report, except when there isn’t any’.

Houston – Senderos, Clark, Machado, Quioto, Alex, Boniek Garcia, Martinez.
Sounders FC – Roldan, Lodeiro, Nouhou.

Fun Fact
Gustav Svensson’s 11th-minute header last match was the first goal scored for any club outside of his native Sweden. Or for that matter, the first goal scored for any club other than IFK Goteborg, the club that developed him.

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