SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC v. LOS ANGELES FC

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green.

Look who’s got a full dance card this week. It’s our beloved Seattle Sounders FC, that’s who. This afternoon’s match against the newcomers from Figueroa Street, followed by a midweek matinee against Mexican stalwarts Chivas of Guadalajara in the Champions League. Two matches in four days…no worries. It looks like we’ll be rounding into match fitness sooner than expected. Excellent.

Gather your Green Family where ye may. Get ye to the ground if you can manage a ticket. If you can’t, find your way to your Sounders-friendly local pub and assemble your mates to flip some beer mats.

Before kickoff, join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

magnus
Newboy Magnus Wolff Eikrem, loomed large in our defeat of Santa Tecla. He could make his league debut for the Sounders today.

The Good News
We are currently riding high. After getting edged in San Salvador by Santa Tecla 2:1, we showed the visitors a resounding thumping 4:0 last Thursday at Royal Brougham Park, in the Evergreen. It was real. It was loud (Said I would lose my voice from shouting for the team, and am still a bit croaky two nights later). The night was ours. The 5:2 aggregate puts us through to the Quarter-Finals against CD Chivas of Guadalajara in the CONCACAF Champions League. So well done us, but the next round will be fish of a different kettle. More on that Wednesday.

Regardless of what the competition is, the Sounders are putting the football in the back of the net. Sounders have 13 goals in their last five matches (Includes three preseason friendlies and the Round of 16 CCL cup-tie against Santa Tecla). Averaging two goals scored per match is never a bad thing.

Our defence seems all on the same page as we’ve only conceded five goals in the last five matches. Averaging one goal or less conceded every match is never a bad thing.

All signs point towards favourable form. Trying to find a flaw, but a flaw is not forthcoming. Not after Thursday night’s masterpiece.

LAFC on balance look equally a threat to concede a goal as score one. This inconsistency plays into the hands of the Sounders, who will baptise the newcomers to MLS league football in the venue known both as Green Hell and Royal Brougham Park.

The Sounders beat Sacramento Republic 1:3 whilst our friends from the Southland could only defeat them 0:1.

The Bad News
Morris tore his knee in the first leg of the CLL tie versus Santa Tecla. We have the depth to cover for one injured forward, but none of our current forwards can match Morris’ pace. Don’t wish to belabour the grim news. I just want Jordo to get well soon.

I’m a bit worried about a letdown after the emotional peak of the Cup victory against our friends from El Salvador. Can’t imagine Schmetz, Preki, and their colleagues in the Sounders coaching staff would allow such a thing to happen. Still, it sticks in the back of my mind. The mentality has to be right, especially against hungry newcomers, such as LAFC.

The LAFC manager is Bob Bradley. A decorated American manager and I think the only one ever to manage in the Premier League unless you count David Wagner with Huddersfield Town, and I don’t think he was born in the States. Regardless of who LAFC line up on Sunday afternoon, they will be well-prepared, and Bradley and his coaches will get full effort from their boys.

Speculation and Musings
Wondering if Eikren and Kim will make their debuts today.

If Bradley, with defenders Ciman and Gaber hurt, opts for youth it’s possible that their draft pick Joao Moutinho (no not “that” Joao Moutinho, this one just left university) might play at the tender age of 20. Before playing at Akron in the NCAA, his youth football was learnt at Sporting Lisbon of the Portuguese league. Therefore, Moutinho is not your average university graduate who has little to no experience in a professional programme. Just sayin.

I doubt Kovar will feature, as I imagine his loan agreement prohibits him from playing against the Sounders who pay his wages.

Murphy also seems unlikely to start, as he has zero experience in first-team top division football. It’s not impossible though. Bradley is known to favour youth if they have skill, demonstrated by having Mike Magee in training at Chicago Fire at age 15.

Bradley has steered the ship of his career through fair weather and stormy. Bradley managed Chicago Fire in their expansion season to an MLS Cup and US Open Cup double. I don’t know if anyone else has accomplished that ever in MLS’ short history, but I bloody well doubt it. He later managed MetroStars who never won any domestic trophies, followed by a season with Chivas USA which produced no tin pots to demonstrate success. Then he managed United States U-23s and then was appointed Bruce Arena’s successor with the USA senior men’s team. Given the sack by the Yanks in 2011, Bradley would go on to an international whirlwind tour of managing Egypt (nearly helping the team qualify in the midst of the Arab Spring), Stabæk, Le Havre, and Swansea. Then Bradley took a two-year break before taking the job at LAFC. I know this was exhausting to read, but you should know what it is we’re facing. Bob Bradley has a made a career of getting the most of the talent he’s given.

Know Thine Enemy
[LAFC lineup as best as I can guess it]

Goalkeeper –
Lopez, 24, has played 124 times for Real Espana of the Honduran League. Lopez has 11 caps for Honduras. Based on experience alone, he would be my first team choice. It’s possible that Bradley will select Miller, our former backup, but he doesn’t have the same big-match experience as Lopez, and it’s my guess he’ll back-up Lopez. Lyon was a Sounders backup as well and is there for cover in my best assessment.

Defence –
Beitashour, 31, most recently a champion with Toronto FC last season, played 51 times for Toronto during his two years at the club. Sounders supporters may also remember his time with Vancouver and with San Jose. Beitashour has the better part of 200 matches of MLS experience and earned six caps with Iran. Suffice it to say; he’s highly rated.

Harvey, 34, last played for Vancouver Whitecaps FC where the California native amassed nearly 180 matches played in his six years at Pacific Boulevard. Harvey has 270 matches of MLS experience.

Zimmerman, 24, last played for FC Dallas where he played nearly 90 times over his four years in Texas. He has two United States caps and was rated highly enough that LAFC parted with $500,000 in allocation money to sign him. I’m guessing he’ll suit up.

Jakovic, 32, last played for the New York Cosmos of the new-look NASL. He has nearly 100 matches of MLS experience, all earned with DC United. Jakovic has 40 caps and one goal for Canada.

Midfield –
Feilhaber, 33, is well-known to our supporters for a rather nasty set of incidences in an MLS Cup play-in match happening to the best of my recollection in 2016. His last club was Kansas City, where he played 180 matches scoring 33 goals in his four years at State Avenue. He has 44 United States caps and two goals in senior internationals. Feilhaber has played over 200 matches of MLS football scoring 34 goals in the league. From 2005-2011, Feilhaber travelled Europe playing for SV Hamburg, Derby County, and Aarhus for a total of 84 first-team matches. It’s not his resume that has me thinking he’ll play though. LAFC parted with $400,000 in allocation money to sign him from Kansas City. Pretty sure he’ll suit up.

Mallace, 28, was recently a Sounder. Despite having played 80 times for Montreal in MLS, Mallace found it impossible to break into the Sounders’ first team, with Cristian Rodan, Osvaldo Alonso, Rodriguez, and Svensson ahead of him in the defensive midfield pecking order. If I were Mallace, I’d have a giant chip on my shoulder for having not even been given a runout. If I were Bradley, I’d use that motivation as well as Mallace’s knowledge of his teammates and their tendencies.

Atuesta, 20, has played 29 times for Independiente Medellin in his home country of Colombia. He has seven caps for Colombia U-20s.

Kaye, 23, has played zero games of MLS first-team football. The Ontario native does, however, have five caps for Canada. Kaye’s last club was Louisville City of the USL where he played 43 times scoring five goals. He is a youth product of Wexford SC and Toronto FC.

Vela, 29, a Mexican national, was produced by CD Chivas and Arsenal FC youth systems. He is most known for his over 200 appearances for Real Sociedad of the Spanish La Liga, where he scored 66 goals. He played at Arsenal, Salamanca, Osasuna, and West Bromwich Albion before his move to Anoeta. Vela has 63 caps and 18 goals for Mexico. He is expected to feature this afternoon in his league debut for LAFC. Although a nagging leg injury may keep him out, I bloody well doubt it. Vela is listed as a striker, but I’ve marked him in the midfield as LAFC purportedly play a five-man midfield.

Forward –
Urena, 27, is a Costa Rican national who most recently played for San Jose in the MLS. He began his career at Alajuelense in his home country playing 59 times scoring 10 goals. He would later play for Kuban Krasnodar in Russia, FC Midtjylland and Brondby in Denmark. Since his first season in Costa Rica, he’s never played more than 25 matches in a season. His career numbers are 157 matches and 20 goals. Urena has 55 caps and 14 goals for Costa Rica.

Familiar Faces
Midfielder –
Aaron Kovar is on loan at LAFC, but he’s one of ours. Goalkeeper, Tyler Miller, backup Goalkeeper, Charlie Lyon, and midfielder, Callum Mallace were all recently with our Sounders. Defender, Jordan Harvey played for the USL iteration of the Sounders in 2006 as a loan player.

Squads
Sounders FC from: Frei, Meredith, Brown, Alfaro, Francis, Kim, Leerdam, Marshall, McCrary, Nouhou Tolo, Torres, Alonso, Bwana, Delem, Eikrem, Lodeiro, Neagle, Rodriguez, Cristian Roldan, Alex Roldan, Shipp, Svensson, Wingo, Adekoya, Bruin, Dempsey.

LAFC from: Miller, Lopez, Lyon, Beitashour, Gaber, Harvey, Jakovic, Moutinho, Zimmerman, Atuesta, Feilhaber, Kaye, Kovar, Mallace, Murphy, Blackmon, Blessing, Pacheco, Rossi, Urena, Vela.

Injury List
Sounders FC –
OUT: Morris (ACL).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Leerdam (ankle), Alonso (quadriceps), Rodriguez (quadriceps), Torres (leg).

LAFC –
OUT: Ciman (MCL).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Vela (leg), Gaber (groin).

Discipline
As this is the first league fixture, no one is suspended from either team.

Fun Fact
Comedian Will Ferrell is part of the LAFC ownership group. This discovery is not just a fun fact; it’s a funny fact. See what I did there, Will?

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