TORONTO FC v. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC MLS Cup Final – Princes’ Boulevard, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Pre-Match Analysis by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. It’s true what they say:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

We took that first step in March of this year, and it was a wobbly one. But true to Sounders FC form, we eventually roared back into a proper shape, and General Manager, Garth Lagerwey provided some much-needed reinforcements to replace the veterans waived after our maiden 2016 MLS Cup title. 10 Months and 39 matches later we arrive in the rarefied atmosphere of the 2017 MLS Cup Final. Again! Against our familiar rivals from a year ago! In the same venue! In the words of the immortal Yogi Berra:

“It’s Deja voux all over again.”

That’s right; it’s time for our lads to line up in the bitter chill at Princes’ Boulevard near the shores of Lake Ontario. Then watch the captains trade commemorative pennants with each other to mark the occasion. Watch them shake hands with the officials, and then get on to the gritty business of winning the most coveted trophy in North American domestic football. Which is weird actually, if you think about it. The Football League Cup is the trophy that can be done without in England, yet our league cup – the MLS Cup is the one most sought after and best publicised on this side of the pond. Go figure. At any rate, it’s a very, very, very, very shiny tin pot, and we wants it. Don’t we just? ECS and it’s member groups stand ready, all hands to action stations. Keep each other warm in the stands and roar like lions, sing like drunken pirates and release the fierce joy in your hearts into the wilds of Ontario that it might echo there forever. Those of our Green Family that couldn’t or didn’t make the voyage north, form rank. File into each other’s houses and our pubs for viewing parties. It’s time for us once again, in the name of our club and the city of Seattle, to generate a beautiful and towering noise such as never been heard on Earth or it’s heavens. A noise so powerful and so massive that it threatens to tear the fabric of reality itself. Be kind, be jovial, be heard. Be the best expression of what makes the city of Seattle, and our football club, so extraordinary. Please join with me before kick-off in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

mlscup
Shiny…sooooo shiny…must…have.

The Good News
We’re a better team than last years’ MLS Cup champions who couldn’t manage a single shot on frame against Toronto FC in the 2016 MLS Cup Final.

Toronto has actually conceded a goal in the MLS Cup, to the Red Donkeys, losing the match but not the cup tie. Toronto needed the away goals rule to struggle past a side composed of living adverts for an energy drink.

The back four of Jones/Nouhou, Marshall, Torres, and Leerdam have provided rock-solid stability at the back this season.

The Sounders FC have yet to concede a goal in this MLS Cup tournament. Marshall and Torres are, in my well-researched opinion, the best centre-halves in MLS, and Kelvin Leerdam is the best right-back in MLS, regardless of what the hare-brained selectors for the MLS Best XI have forced us to choke down.

Dempsey and Bruin scored a combined 28 goals in the league this season. That’s nearly as many as Giovinco and Altidore scored for Toronto, and that’s no small feat.

Before the MLS Cup semi-final first leg, I don’t think we’d ever won a match in Houston before. Well, we won, which tells me that pretty much anything is regardless of how much of a fortress they think their home ground might be.

The Bad News
Toronto FC are also a better team than the side that opposed us in the MLS Cup Final a year ago. Toronto mauled the rest of the league on the way to being crowned league champions. In doing so, they racked up more points in the standings than any club in the league’s 22-year history.

Toronto beat us 0:1 at Royal Brougham Park this season. It was the only match we lost at home this season. It hurt my feelings plenty.

With Vazquez pulling the strings in the TFC midfield, the Reds have more ways to shear a defence to shreds than a Swiss Army knife has attachments.

Giovinco and Altidore scored 33 goals between them in the league this season. Although that doesn’t terrify me, it does give me a moment’s pause.

Toronto have only lost twice at the Princes’ Boulevard ground this year. Once in the League against Montreal, and once in the MLS Cup to the Red Donkeys.

Speculation & Musings
The high temperature in Toronto will be 34ºF, with 59% humidity, and a 20% chance of precipitation that would likely manifest itself as snow showers. Wind will be a brisk 10 mph from the south-southwest. Break out the thermal underwear ECS. It’s gonna get frosty. Then there’s the matter of the weather.

According to the line-up in the semi-final second leg at Seattle, Lodeiro started the match as a holding midfielder, presumably in place of the injured Alonso. Will he do so again?

Although Jordan Morris is still listed as a matchday decision, you’d have to imagine there’s no way he could be prevented from lining up at the start of this one, yeh?

And further on in that line of thought: If Morris starts the match at left-wing, does Jones replace Nouhou at left-back and Rodriguez also to the bench?

Dempsey at striker, #10, or right-wing? You’d imagine that Dempsey at #10 with Bruin up top is a working formula that shouldn’t be tampered with, yeh?

Toronto has played an odd sometimes five at the back, sometimes three at the back shape this year. How are we going to find space in the midfield?

Does Svensson have another goal in him? I think he just might.

With Alonso ruled out due to his quadriceps, do we lose too much bite in the midfield? We’ve held it together so far, but Toronto won 20 matches in the league this season. Will it be enough for Svensson or Lodeiro to pick up the slack?

Although Dempsey has signed a one-year contract for next season, Joevin Jones will move to Darmstadt 98 later this winter. Will the Sounders’ circle of attrition continue? Perhaps it’s time to loosen up that salary cap, Mr Garber. It’s not a very good business plan if clubs have such thin squad depth that they must contest US Open Cup ties with players that look like they haven’t yet attempted their driver’s exam. I say this because viewing that US Open Cup match in San Jose featuring the better part of Sounders II against the San Jose first team made me want to go to the league office and slap someone in the face. Except for the free kick goal by Kovar, which was utterly delightful.

Joevin Jones will play his last match in Sounders’ Green today. I’m gonna miss that bloke.

A Year Ago
After we defeated Toronto FC in the 2016 MLS Cup Final, Graham Parker, a journalist for the UK newspaper, The Guardian, wrote: “For years, Seattle have built a reputation for attacking flair that wilts in the playoffs, but their gutsy charge through the second half of a difficult season has been built as much on defense as attack, and this final was an extreme example of that. Having beaten Sporting KC 1-0 in the play-in game with their only shot on goal, Seattle went one “better” in the final – becoming the only team in MLS history to not have a shot on target for the two hours of regular play.” The Guardian also wrote a sub-heading after the historic match: “The Sounders have won their first MLS championship after a 5-4 victory on penalties following a dreary 0-0 stalemate.”

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper –
Bono, 23, has taken the starting job away from Clint Irwin. Developed by Syracuse (NCAA), Bono has 45 matches at MLS level. He started 28 of Toronto’s 34 league matches this season. Toronto’s record this season with Bono between the pipes is 19-6-4. He has played all four contests in the 2017 MLS Cup.

Defence –
Morrow, 30, has played over 190 times at MLS level and has scored 17 goals in his career. He was produced by Notre Dame (NCAA) and has earned three caps for United States.

Mavinga, 26, is a French national produced by several clubs including Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool. Never played for Liverpool who lent him to Belgian club Genk. He would later move to Rennes, Rubin Kazan, with loan spells at Reims and Troyes. In his first year at Toronto, he played in 26 league matches. He has played every match this MLS Cup and has earned four caps for DR Congo.

Moor, 33, is a domestic footballer produced by Furman and Indiana (NCAA). In his 13-year MLS Career he has played over 360 times for Dallas, Colorado, and Toronto, scoring 27 goals. In this, his second season with Toronto, Moor has played 22 MLS Cup matches in his career including every match of this MLS Cup. He earned five United States caps before retiring from international football in 2008.

Zavaleta, 25, is a domestic footballer produced by IMG Academy, FC Pride, Real Salt Lake, Chivas USA, Columbus Crew, and Indiana (NCAA). Zavaleta has played over 80 matches of MLS football in his five-year career. This is his third year with Toronto following stints at Chivas USA and Seattle Sounders FC. He played in 29 league matches this season and has played in all four matches of this MLS Cup. Zavaleta earned 23 youth caps for United States.

Beitashour, 30, is a domestic footballer produced by San Diego State (NCAA). He began his professional career in 2010 with San Jose Earthquakes. He would later move to Vancouver in 2014, and Toronto in 2016. The eight-year MLS veteran has played in nearly 200 league matches, including 22 appearances for Toronto this season. He has played in 14 MLS Cup matches in his career, including all four in this campaign. Beitashour earned six caps with Iran before retiring from international football in 2014.

Midfield –
Vazquez, 30, is a Spanish national developed by FC Barcelona. He played nearly 150 times for Barcelona reserves in his seven years at the club, and one match in the first team. In 2011, Vazquez moved to Club Brugge playing over 120 times and scoring 15 goals. This was followed by a brief stint at Cruz Azul and his subsequent move to Toronto for the 2017 season. In his first year at TFC, he appeared in 31 matches scoring eight goals. He has played every match in this MLS Cup. Vazquez is the engine that makes the Toronto attack go, setting up 16 goals in the league.

Bradley, 30, is a mainstay for the United States team (140 caps, 17 goals), often captaining the Yanks. His resumé is well known as is the $10M fee it cost Toronto to pry him from AS Roma. With well over 350 matches as a pro, many of them in Netherlands, Italy, and Germany, it’s safe to say Bradley is a seasoned pro of established quality.

Osorio, 25, was produced by Nacional (Uruguay), and Toronto FC. His six-year career began with SC Toronto of the old CSL. Osorio then moved to Toronto FC in 2013 and has since played over 140 times for them, scoring 13 goals. He has 11 matches played in MLS Cup, including all four matches from this campaign. Osorio has earned 19 caps for Canada, scoring twice. Although he only started nine matches for Toronto this season, he appeared in 27.

Forward –
Giovinco, 30, has an impeccable resumé. A product of Juventus (93 appearances/14 goals) and the Italian national team (23 caps, one goal), he played nearly 200 matches of top-flight Italian league football. He has 97 goals in 280 appearances as a professional. Agile and nimble, he is a force to be reckoned with whether dribbling at the defence or on the ball for set pieces. He is more than capable of providing the killer ball in the final third. This is his third season with Toronto and has played 86 matches for them, scoring 55 goals and setting up 37 others. He has 10 matches of MLS Cup experience scoring five goals and has played in all but one match in this year’s tournament.

Altidore, 28, has 96 goals in 270 appearances. He’s played in England, Turkey, Spain, and the Netherlands. From 2011-2013 scored 39 goals in 67 matches for AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch Eredivisie. He is notorious for having the highest fee ever paid to MLS for a transfer, $10M (€7.4M) to Spanish club Villarreal CF. No one pays that much money unless you have a tonne of skill. He’s a tank of a striker, much like Morris, only far more experienced. When not busy scoring goals, can sometimes be found laying the ball off like a traditional holding centre-forward. He has earned 110 caps and scored 41 goals for United States.

Familiar Faces
Defender, Eriq Zavaleta, played five times for the Sounders FC in the 2013 season. He was drafted by Seattle in 2013. He was traded two years later to TFC for a 2nd round draft pick.

Squads
Toronto from: Bono, Irwin, Pais, Alseth, Aubrey, Beitashour, Hagglund, Hasler, Hernandez, Mavinga, Moor, Morgan, Morrow, Zavaleta, Bradley, Camargo, Chapman, Cheyrou, Cooper, Delgado, Edwards, Hasler, Osorio, Vazquez, Altidore, Endoh, Giovinco, Hamilton, Ricketts, Spencer.

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

Injury List
Toronto –
OUT: none.
MATCHDAY DECISION: none.

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

Discipline
Disciplinary slate wiped clean for MLS Cup Final. So no matter who tried to run whom in the semi-final second leg, there are none suspended from either side. [exasperated sigh]

Fun Fact
At press time on Friday night, Ladbrokes listed MLS Cup Final bets on Toronto had odds of 3/4 (your bet times .75 plus the original stake) and bets on Seattle had odds of 18/5 (your bet times 3.6 plus the original stake). Suffice it to say that the famous London bookmakers believe that Toronto FC are likely to win. Well. We’ll just have to see about that. Won’t we?

P.S. if you’re going to bet be sensible. It’s plenty sad to lose the farm (or your shirt) due to gambling debt.

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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.

HOUSTON DYNAMO v. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC MLS CUP SEMI-FINAL 1st Leg Dowling Street, Houston, Texas

Pre-Match Analysis
by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. We have come to the point in our MLS Cup journey where we travel to Dowling Street, Houston, Texas, to play multiple personality disorder sufferer (San Jose Earthquakes? San Jose Clash? San Jose Earthquakes? Houston???) and abortive attempt to re-shirt the Honduran national team in orange, Houston Dynamo.

Our title defence is alive and well, thanks to a brace of goals from resurgent chieftain, Clint Dempsey in the steady and insistent Seattle rain. With the Vancouver Whitecaps dispatched, we must travel to face the next challenger, the Creamsicles of Houston.

As always, but particularly now in the Cup, support is vital. Link up with the Green family whether you’ve made the trip to Texas, or marshall support at your mate’s houses, Sounders FC pubs, and such. Make noise, be merry, sing well, and support the lads.

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

creamsicle
Really, Houston, San Jose v. 3.0 or whoever you are, Orange and White? In Heaven’s name why? I double dog dare you to defend those colour choices.

The Good News
There’s a chance Morris may be fit enough to play as his injury status has been downgraded from “out” to “questionable”.

Dempsey’s back to his old self, hitting goals as if he were back at Craven Cottage.

Despite our lack of success at Houston, we can be confident that the squad we have now is much stronger than the side that lost 2:1 on matchday one of the league schedule back in March. Credit due to Sounders General Manager, Garth Lagerwey for significantly strengthening the squad in the summer transfer window.

As this is a two-legged cup tie, we don’t have to win at Houston in order to advance to the Final. We have yet to concede a goal in the MLS Cup. That level of stifling defence plus an away goal at Dowling Street could be just what we need to punch our ticket to the Final.

The Bad News
In eight attempts we have not yet managed to win at Houston in the league. We have also never won there in the MLS Cup, though it was only one match in 2009.

Alonso is still listed as out.

Houston is a club of sneaky quality. Just look at the clubs that these guys have played for: Saprissa, Deportivo Cali, River Plate, Arsenal, Chivas of Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Alex was produced by Gremio. Madness, yeh?

Intangibles
Truth be told, the result of this cup tie is bloody difficult to predict. Although there’s plenty of data, the context of cup football generally suggests that most of that can be thrown right into the bin.

Sounders haven’t played against Houston in the MLS Cup since 2009 where we lost on an aggregate score of 1:0 in the MLS Cup Quarter-Finals.

Only Toronto, Chicago, Atlanta United, and Portland scored more goals than Houston’s 57 in the league this year.

Only Toronto and Kansas City conceded fewer goals than Seattle’s 39 in the league this year.

At this time of year, managers keep injury information rather close to the vest. It’s understandable, yet also frustrating if you’re trying to predict a result.

The second leg of the Quarter-Final against Vancouver revealed a reborn Clint Dempsey. His goals were nothing short of magical. Does Houston posses the equal of that? I really don’t think so.

Score Prediction by Metrics
From a sample size of 34 league matches:
(SGF+HGC)/2 : (HGF+SGC)/2= HOU 1.42:1.43 SEA

Analysis of result:
We have played two matches of cup football, and Houston have played three. Neither of those samples are large enough to generate a meaningful statistical model. Therefore, we use the numbers relative to the two sides’ overall performances scoring and defending over the entirety of the league schedule.

The best that I can infer from this statistical result, is that the two sides are evenly matched to the extreme. You could infer that both teams are likely to score at least one goal. You could also say that this cup tie will be decided by the side that makes the fewest critical errors. You would be correct to say that that statement is quite obvious, and could be applied to any match within our parity-happy league. Although narrow margins are common in matches between MLS clubs, the margins are generally not as razor thin as in this specific analysis of Seattle and Houston.

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.

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.

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.

Anibaba, 29, developed by Santa Clara and North Carolina (NCAA), is a former Sounder (see below). He has played 38 times for Houston in his two years at Dowling Street. Overall, he has 166 matches of MLS experience and was selected at youth levels four times by United States.

Midfield –
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 has played 27 matches in the league, and all three MLS Cup matches.

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.

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 three MLS Cup matches. Martinez has 10 youth caps for Argentina.

Elis, 21, is a recent loan signing from Monterrey of the Mexican Liga MX. He has scored 10 goals in 26 matches this season for Houston. The Honduran national played 62 times for Olimpia scoring 25 goals and has 28 caps, six goals for Honduras. He has played in all three 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 three matches in the MLS Cup.

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 all three 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
Houston from: Willis, Deric, Brown, Anibaba, Beasley, Garcia, Hunter, Machado, Remick, Leonardo, Senderos, Alex, Alexander, Cabezas, Clark, Escalante, Garcia, Holland, Martinez, Memo Rodriguez, Ward, Wenger, Elis, Manotas, Quioto, Sanchez, Erick Torres.

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

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.)

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

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

Discipline
No players suspended on either side.

Out next match if booked:
Houston – Senderos, Clark, Machado, Quioto, Elis, Alex, Boniek Garcia.
Sounders FC – Roldan, Lodeiro, Torres.

Fun Fact
United States U-14s have invited Sounders Academy players Sota Kitahara, Daniel Leyva, and Nico Rei McMillan to its 2017 camp. Well done, lads. Do us proud.

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC v. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC MLS CUP QUARTER-FINAL 2nd LEG – ROYAL BROUGHAM PARK, SEATTLE, WA

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!!!

dempsey
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.

Squads
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).
MATCHDAY DECISION: none.

Discipline
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.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC v. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC MLS CUP QUARTER-FINAL 1st Leg – BC Place, Vancouver, BC

Pre-Match Analysis
by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. The time has come to contest the 22nd MLS Cup Finals. You know how this works. People in our communities start wearing bulky sweaters and talking about universities American football, staking out the best possible turkey option for Thanksgiving, or Tofurkey if you’re feeling benevolent.

But for our lot, there’s something else brewing on tap in addition to all that. The MLS Cup Finals. The tournament began last Wednesday and will carry on through to the Final match, to be played at the home of the highest seeded of the two finalists on 9 December.

The knockout, play-in round is over (played last Wednesday and Thursday), seeing Houston, NY Red Donkeys, Columbus, and Vancouver through to the Quarter-Finals. So the die has been cast, and we must play a two-legged cup-tie with our auld rivals, the Whitecaps FC.

If you’re making the trip up north, mind yourself and be properly loud at BC Place. If you’re headed to a viewing party at a participating local pub or hosting a home viewing with friends, be together as one Green family and drink, chant, and sing your hearts out being mindful to replace them in your chests afterwards. A good result on Pacific Boulevard would go a long way towards clinching the tie in Seattle this Thursday night in the second leg, under the lights at Royal Brougham Park.

Mark the dates and times in your books, and fasten that seatbelt. This promises, as always, to be one woolly ride. The time is nigh. Let our MLS Cup journey begin. Before kick-off, join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

CFOXhaha
Well, this is what we get for singing profanity at the perfectly nice residents of Vancouver who have welcomed Sounders supporters for all these years. With that said, it’s not very hospitable for Vancouver’s CFOX 99.3 to ban all Seattle music in Vancouver for the match weekend. BTDubs, CFOX is not even remotely as cool a radio station as KEXP. You and your cluster station can suck it, you corporate wanks. Ha ha ha ha, go back to your Smooth Jazz format [hysterical laughter].
The Good News
Although Vancouver had a reasonably good home record in the league, they weren’t invulnerable, winning only nine of 17 at BC Place. The Caps finished one place behind us in the league, 8th to our 7th, and conceded 10 more goals than us during the season.

We finished 1-1-1 against Vancouver in the league this season, soundly beating them 3:0 in our last meeting. Our recent form over the last five matches (3-0-2) is a bit better than our opponents’ (2-1-2).

We strung two strong victories in Seattle to end the year, outscoring our opponents by a combined 7:0. The lads seem prepared, and sharp. The combination of all these positives has me bullish about our chances to win the tie.

The Bad News
We have yet to play a match in the MLS Cup, whereas our rivals played a single-elimination match at Pacific Boulevard, unceremoniously thrashing unsuspecting San Jose 5:0.

Vancouver are only missing two players due to injury, and seem to be thriving without them. We, in sharp contrast, may be missing Morris (pace, scoring, and physical strength), Alonso (spiritual leader and the sharpness in the teeth of our defensive midfield), Evans (leader and talisman of campaigns past), Rodriguez (artistry, technique, and forged by the best La Liga could throw at him), and Svensson (easily the most versatile player in the squad, can play any midfield position as well as centre-half).

Evans is likely out for certain and hasn’t played in a very long time. As far as the rest of that bunch there’s no way to predict what their status is, and in the cagey tradition of cup football, Brian Schmetzer ain’t tellin’.

All things considered, we’ve done well in the last two matches, although both Rodriguez and Svensson were healthy in the 4:0 demolition of The Dallas. Neither were present in the 3:0 victory over Colorado in the league finale.

The penalty awarded to Colorado last week for Harry Shipp’s handball is the type of mental mistake that shouldn’t be happening at this time of year.

Old Man Dempsey has gone and gotten himself sent off again, and as a result will be a spectator for tonight’s match. Leaving us a short list of strikers that includes Will Bruin, Lamar Neagle, and Seyi Adekoya.

Intangibles
The unknown. This is the first meeting of the two clubs in the MLS Cup. Our most recent match against Vancouver was a 3:0 triumph. But that was in Seattle, and also was a league match.

Our last match at Vancouver was a 1:1 draw seeing Montero cancel out Lodeiro’s first-half strike on 64’.

The Sounders side that lost 2:1 in Vancouver in April bears little resemblance to the current squad, and that’s a good thing.

Score Prediction by Metric
(SGF+VGC)÷2 : (VGF+SGC)÷2 = VAN 1.31:1.49 SEA

Analysis of result:
From a sample size of 34 league matches. The result is no surprise as in most instances only a fraction of a goal, in this instance, 0.18 goals in favour of the Sounders, separates the teams in question as defined by this metric. Fractions of a goal are un-countable and un-scoreable, therefore this method would generally predict every result as a draw if taken literally.

So, although there’s very little we can take from this equation for the sake of prediction, we can infer that our Sounders seem ever so slightly to be the team more likely to score two goals over 90 minutes of football between these two specific sides relative to their overall performances scoring and defending over the entirety of the league schedule.

Sod it all. What these maths illustrate most clearly is the frustration we all feel at not being able to predict the outcome. It’s fun to compute, but next to useless, practically speaking. At least I tried. Full marks for effort.

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.

Reyna, 24, is a Peruvian international developed by Alianza Lima. After playing nearly 50 matches for Alianza he spent the next two years with RB Salzberg, this included loans to two other Austrian clubs and also at Leipzig in Germany. His tour in Austria and Germany saw him feature in 72 matches in all before his transfer to Vancouver this year. He has six goals in 18 matches for Vancouver this season. Reyna has six caps and two goals for Peru.

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.

Techera, 25, is an Uruguayan national produced by Penarol and River Plate Montevideo. He played for River Plate (the one in Uruguay, not Argentina) 74 times scoring nearly 20 goals before his loan to BC Place. His move has since been made permanent and he has appeared 80 times for the ‘Caps scoring 15 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.

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

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

Injury List
Vancouver –
OUT: Edgar (PCL and MCL), Laba (ACL).
MATCHDAY DECISION: none.

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

Discipline
Sounders FC: Dempsey (sent off).
Vancouver: none suspended.

Fun Fact
The Sounders FC and the Whitecaps have never met in the MLS Cup.

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC v. COLORADO RAPIDS

Pre-Match Analysis by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. We’ve finally arrived at the last match of the MLS season. Match #34 sees us hosting Rocky Mountain delinquents, Colorado Rapids in a Sunday afternoon match at Royal Brougham Park, Seattle, Washington. At stake: a chance for the Sounders to avoid having to play in the one-off knockout round of the MLS Cup by earning one of the top two conference positions. It’s pretty clear that today’s match is a vital one for our Boys in Green. All the voices of the supporters must be heard, so I hope you lot have been conserving your voices for use at the ground and at the pub. One club. One voice. Before the kick-off in Seattle, join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

Jones
(Pictured above: Joevin Jones) Nouhou Tolo is a fine left-back, and a promising talent in this league which we will sorely need him to be when Joevin leaves for Germany and Darmstadt 98 at the end of the MLS Cup. Having said that, please for the love of God (and also Allah, Vishnu, Odin, Zeus, and Aslan), Gaffer, please start Jones at left-back, and let Rodriguez play left-wing today. And now a word from our sponsors…

The Good News
The Sounders find themselves in 8th place in the league table. It’s been a fine season when you look at the entirety of it. 13-11-9 record, which amounts to a result in over two-thirds of our matches. A proper and professional display.

Although our form has been a bit choppy of late, last week’s fixture saw us paste the Dallas 4:0. The same Dallas side that won the League and US Open Cup double last season. That has to be seen as a positive sign going forward.

We defeated Colorado in our only other meeting with them this season by a 1:3 scoreline in Commerce City. All-time we have only lost five times in 21 matches against Colorado in the league (14-2-5). Colorado’s away record in the league this season is 1-2-13. You read that correctly, only one win, two draws, and 13 losses. When in the friendly confines of Occidental Avenue, we have only lost twice in 11 matches (8-1-2) against Colorado. The Sounders have only lost once at home in 16 matches (10-5-1).

We average nearly a goal and a half per match whilst our opponents average less than a goal per match (0.91). Of the two sides, Colorado are far more likely to concede more than one goal (average of 1.45 goals conceded/match).

Although we have injuries to key players, our General Manager, Garth Lagerwey, has seen to it that we have the depth in the side to contend at a very high level. The additions of both Rodriguez and Leerdam will prove vital at this time of year.

The only motivation for Colorado to win is to spoil the Sounders’ chance at avoiding a one-match play-in to the MLS Cup Quarter-Finals.

The Bad News
Colorado have nothing to lose. The Rapids find themselves in 20th place in the league going into today’s match. So they also have nothing to gain, except to spoil the Sounders’ chance to avoid the MLS Cup Knockout Round, and perhaps in the doing, salvage a share of 19th Place in the league.

The Sounders are (According to MLSSoccer.com), missing Morris, Alonso, and Svensson due to injuries. All three play very important roles that are difficult to replace. Morris is a tank of a forward with pace to burn, often creating severe matchup problems for our opponents on the left flank. Alonso provides the bite in our midfield defence, and is a true, inspirational leader, often wearing the Captain’s armband. Svensson is a veteran player of over 200 matches of European football, with his versatility being of particular value to the side. Svensson has played at holding midfield, and centre-half, often doing yeoman’s work, ably deputising for first-choice players. None of these players can truly be replaced.

All factors considered, there seems to be a place setting at the table for the Sounders to feast on a three-point meal. And in a league dominated by engineered parity, that’s what worries me.

Intangibles
Toronto FC is a lock for the League Championship. On 68 points they can’t be displaced by their closest competitor, NYC FC who are 12 points adrift.

Although Colorado have nothing to gain or lose from this match, The Sounders may be able to tie for the highest point total in the Western Conference.

The reason we can’t finish in the top conference place is that Cascadia rivals Vancouver and Portland are playing each other with a Vancouver win putting first position out of reach for either the Sounders or Portland. If the sides draw Vancouver would be on 53 points which is the maximum the Sounders can earn with a win this afternoon. This would see the Sounders and the Caps even on 53 points.

Should Seattle win and Portland win we would be tied for first position in the conference with our bitter rivals on 53 points.

If Seattle win we can’t finish lower than 2nd position in the conference. The top two finishers in each conference don’t have to play in the one-match knockout in the first round.

Should we draw with Colorado we could be overtaken by both Portland and Kansas City.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper –
Tim Howard shouldn’t need an introduction. One of the world’s top keepers, even as he’s getting on in years. Continually fights a harder opponent than any football team, Tourettes, and holds his head high as he continues to triumph over it. Played nearly 400 matches in English football with Everton and Manchester United. He has earned 121 United States caps. Has a list of honours longer than your grocery list for the market. Difficult to beat, regardless of the team in front of him. If the Rapids start any of their apprentices over him, they’re more foolish than I’d imagined.

Defence –
Hairston, 23, was developed by Louisville (NCAA). He has 79 appearances and seven goals in MLS, all for Colorado.

Ford, 21, was developed by Denver (NCAA). Ford is in his rookie season in MLS as Colorado is his first pro club. Has played 19 times for his club.

Sjoberg, 26, was developed by Djurgardens IF of Sweden and Marquette (NCAA). Played 20 matches for Sollentuna FF in Sweden. Has played 63 times for Colorado since he arrived in Denver two years ago.

Miller, 24, is a product of Minnesota Thunder and Creighton (NCAA). Has 85 matches of MLS experience, 55 of those with Colorado.

Midfield –
Boateng, 23, has 85 matches and 16 goals with Strømgodset under his belt and has played 17 times for Colorado.

Saeid, 26, a Swedish national, was developed by BK Forward of Sweden and West Bromwich Albion FC of England. He has 124 matches of Swedish football between BK Forward and Orebro SK. He has 81 matches of MLS experience, 28 of those with Colorado. Moved from Minnesota United to Colorado this March.

Gatt, 26, developed by Michigan Wolves, started his professional career in Austria playing 15 matches with Rheindorf Altach. In 2011 he moved to Molde FK in Norway, playing 60 times scoring nine goals. He moved to MLS for this season with a transfer to Minnesota United and swapped to Colorado a month later. Gatt has played 19 times for Colorado this season, scoring twice. Gatt has two United States caps.

Aigner, 30, developed by 1860 Munich in Germany. The German national is a typical Euro-ringer with nearly 300 matches of experience that includes clubs such as Arminia Bielefeld, 1860 Munich, and Eintracht Frankfurt. He has twice scored over 20 goals in a German season. Moved to Denver for this season. Has played eight times in his first season with Colorado scoring twice.

Badji, 25, has 74 matches and 17 goals for Colorado over three seasons. The Senegalese forward is a product of Boston University (NCAA). Moved to Denver in 2015.

Forward –
Gordon, 36, was produced by Yavapai (NJCAA) and Oregon State (NCAA). Has played 270 MLS matches scoring 55 goals in his 13-year professional career. Moved to Denver in 2017 and has played 25 matches scoring three goals for Colorado this season. Has two United States caps.

Familiar Faces
Michael Azira played 25 times for the Sounders. Azira is listed as out this match due to an ankle injury.

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

Colorado: Howard, MacMath, Berner, Burling, Castillo, da Fonte, Ford, Miller, Sjoberg, Watts, Boateng, Gatt, Gil, Hairston, Hamilton, Perez, Saeid, Serna, Aigner, Badji, Calvert, Gashi, Gordon.

Injury List
Sounders FC –
OUT: Evans (back), Morris (hamstring), Alonso (quadriceps), Svensson (hamstring).
MATCHDAY DECISION: None.

Colorado –
OUT: Azira (ankle).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Williams (ankle).

Discipline
None suspended from either side.

Fun Fact
There will something for Sounders’ supporters to look forward to after the MLS Cup tournament ends. As a result of winning the MLS Cup in 2016, the Sounders have qualified for the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League. Well done there. The CCL format has changed and has eliminated the group stage in favour of a home and away knockout format. The tournament draw date has not been announced by CONCACAF, but the first leg of the Round of 16 will begin in February at a date to be named later. Other qualified clubs are: UANL (MEX), Chivas (MEX), Club America (MEX), Tijuana (MEX), FC Dallas (USA), New York Red Donkeys (USA), Colorado (USA), Toronto (CAN), Saprissa (CRC), Herediano (CRC), Tauro (PAN), Motagua (HON), Santa Tecla (SLV), Cibao (DOM), and the winner of the CONCACAF League tournament which contains entrants from Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, the league champion from Belize, and the runners-up, third place team, and fourth place teams from the Carribean Football Union’s Championship. That’s pretty complicated, but then what isn’t complicated in CONCACAF?

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC v. FC DALLAS – Pre-Match Analysis

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. The end of the league schedule is nigh with only two matches remaining including this afternoon’s warm reception for our close personal friends from the Lone Star State. That’s right, Faithful, FC Dallas have made their way to the Evergreen, soon to discover just how far out of their depth they are. Welcome to Green Hell.

Time to galvanise our support. At the ground and in the pubs where the employees grin when we turn up in droves wearing our colours. We will gather in Seattle, in Tacoma in Washington. We will gather in the Haight-Ashbury, Pill Hill, and Mountain View in California. We’ll turn up by the scores with hearts and eyes brightened by the prospect of victory. We gather the Green Family once again, fortifying the side and each other as we work together towards victory.

Before the whistle at kick-off, join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

 

 

““O God!” I screamed, and “O God!” again and again; for there before my eyes—pale and shaken, and half fainting, and groping before him with his hands, like a man restored from death—there stood Henry Jekyll!” – Robert Louis Stevenson

dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde
Are we the Sounders team that began the season 2-4-4? Are we the second-half Sounders that went 13 matches unbeaten? Are we the Sounders team that lost two of the last three matches with the MLS Cup tournament nearly upon us?

The Good News
We’re 9th best in the league. If we win, we clinch an MLS Cup berth. Dallas are mid-table at 12th, barely holding on to the last Western Conference MLS Cup berth, only one point clear of Salt Lake and San Jose. We have not lost to Dallas this season, earning a draw in our trip to Frisco, TX in mid-September.

All-time we are 7-1-1 when Dallas visits the Evergreen. All-time our overall record against Dallas is 9-6-6. Dallas have only won three away matches out of 16 played this season. Even with Alonso and Morris out we still have Dempsey, Lodeiro, Rodriguez, Frei, Marshall, Torres, Leerdam, Jones, and Roldan to carry the load. In the end, quality usually prevails. We have plenty of quality in the squad.

Sounders FC have only lost once at home this season, carrying a record of 9-5-1 in front of the Brougham Faithful.

The Bad News
The performance of the two clubs when compared favours us by extremely narrow margins, +0.07 goals/match and -0.12 goals conceded/match. The Dallas are desperate, having managed only one victory in their last 13 matches, during which they’ve been defeated six times.

Should Dallas fail to secure victory, Salt Lake and/or San Jose could leapfrog them, jouncing the Texans out of the last MLS Cup playoff spot. Dallas are desperate for points and results. Desperate opponents tend to show their teeth with their backs to the wall. Not good news for Seattle who are struggling to find the form that saw them unbeaten in 13 matches a mere month ago.

Are the Sounders the side that beat Vancouver 3:0, or the side that got shut out 2:0 in Utah and Pennsylvania? The extreme highs and lows of the last three matches are asking questions relative to the Sounders consistency. Can the Sounders find the combination necessary to achieving success in the Cup? Will Morris and Alonso return to fitness in time to bolster the side?

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper
Jesse Gonzalez, 22, a domestic footballer developed by FC Dallas, has played over 30 matches with the Dallas first team. He has also been capped at youth levels by Mexico 8 times.

Defence
Figueroa, 34, is a Honduran international who once played 148 matches for Wigan in England. He has 135 caps for Honduras.

Hedges, 27, is a domestic footballer developed by Butler and North Carolina (NCAA). He has played over 160 times for FC Dallas and has five caps for the United States.

Zimmerman, 24, is a domestic product developed by Furman (NCAA). He has played nearly 90 times for his club. He has 14 caps for United States youth sides, and one cap with the senior team.

Grana, 32, is an Argentine national on loan from All Boys. He has played nearly 30 times for the Dallas and had previously played 7 times for the Columbus Crew. He has experience in Argentine football in excess of 100 matches.

Midfield
Gruezo, 22, is an Ecuadorian international who played 18 matches at VfB Stuttgart before moving to Dallas in 2016. He has played nearly 60 matches for his current club. He has 17 caps for Ecuador.

Acosta, 22, is a United States international developed by FC Dallas and the IMG Academy. He has played over 100 times for his club. He has been capped 15 times for the Yanks.

Hollingshead, 26, is a domestic footballer produced by UCLA (NCAA). He has played 90 times for his club.

Diaz, 26, is an Argentine national developed by River Plate. After playing 69 times for River Plate, he moved on loan to Union Espanola for 41 matches. He moved to Dallas on a Designated Player contract in 2013 and has played nearly 100 times for them scoring 20 goals.

Barrios, 26, is a Colombian national. He played 140 times for Unlautonoma scoring 35 goals before moving to Dallas in 2015. He has played 90 times for Dallas scoring 18 times.

Forward
Urruti, 26, is an Argentine national developed by Newell’s Old Boys. Played 65 times for the Treecutters. Has played 60 matches for the Dallas scoring 21 goals. He is the danger man going forward.

Familiar Faces
Not a one.

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

Dallas from: Jesse Gonzalez, Seitz, Cannon, Chala, Figueroa, Grana, Guillen, Harris, Hedges, Hume, Zimmerman, Acosta, Barrios, Cermeno, Craft, Diaz, Luis Gonzalez, Gruezo, Hayes, Hollingshead, Lamah, Morales, Pomykal, Ulloa, Akindele, Colman, Ferreira, Reid, Urruti.

Injury List
Sounders FC –
OUT: Alonso (quad), Evans (back), Morris (hamstring).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Bruin (AC joint), Roldan (broken arm).

Dallas –
OUT: None.
MATCHDAY DECISION: None.

Discipline
None suspended for either side. Should he be booked within this match or the next, FC Dallas’ Grana will face a one match ban and a $500 fine.

Fun Fact
Former Sounders Academy player and Ballard High School alum, Handwalla Bwana, has played nine matches with UDub this season, scoring six goals and adding five assists. A midfielder, Bwana is enjoying his sophomore campaign after having completed a freshman season that saw him named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year hitting four goals and assisting on seven.

PHILADELPHIA UNION v. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC – Pre-Match Analysis

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. The Sounders FC descend on the land of cheesesteaks, the Liberty Bell, American Democracy, the Mafia, Rocky Balboa, a definitively higher standard for pizza, and unmitigated spite for a Sunday morning fixture in the Keystone State. Philadelphia Union are the paragon of hospitality, serving up a 10 a.m. Pacific Time made-for-jet-lag kick-off in Chester, PA. A true Philadelphia welcome from the City of Brotherly Love. Gather your green family where ye may and assemble at a viewing party near you. At the pub, at a mate’s house, you know the drill. We keep it loud, and we keep it Evergreen. Join me before kick-off in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

tactics
Looks like switching up the tactics produced excellent results last Wednesday in Seattle. Are we now in full Sounders-for-the-Cup mode, or was it a one-off?

The Good News
The Sounders sit 9th in the league table and are on the verge of clinching an MLS Cup berth. In sharp relief, Philadelphia are in 18th place in the league and are struggling to produce results.

Although the form of both clubs is nearly identical in the last five matches, Philadelphia has only one win in their last eight matches. Seattle have lost only one match in their last 15 (7-7-1).

The Sounders are scoring goals again, having hit three against Vancouver in Wednesday’s midweek fixture. Adjustments to the lineup and swapping some of the roles in our formation produced an outpouring of goals. We did quite well with Roldan in the #10 role, and hopefully, success will continue.

The all-time record favours the Sounders at 4-2-3.

Philadelphia made no signings in the summer Transfer Window, whereas Seattle were reinforced by Leerdam and other significant signings.

Earlier this month, Philadelphia managed only a 1:1 draw at Minnesota United, a club we defeated twice by a combined score of 6:1.

The Bad News
The Sounders have never won a league match in Philadelphia in the MLS era (0-2-2).

Seattle are facing significant attrition as Evans and Morris are injured, Alonso and Torres are battling injuries and may or may not play today, and Rodriquez is unavailable as he has family issues to take care of in Catalonia.

Two matches ago, Philadelphia defeated Chicago by a score of 3:1 The same Chicago side that walloped us 4:1 back in May.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper –
Blake, 26, was developed by Connecticut (NCAA). Philadelphia is his first club and he has played for the Union over 60 times since he signed in 2014. Blake has 22 caps for Jamaica since 2014. Jamaica’s run in the 2017 Gold Cup where they made it all the way to the final, was in part due to Blake’s outstanding play during the tournament.

Defence –
Fabinho, 32, is a Brazilian national who played youth football with a number of notable South American clubs such as Gremio, Botafogo, Flamengo, and Newell’s Old Boys. His career began in 2005 where he played at seven smaller Brazillian clubs until moving to Austrailia in 2011 to play with Melbourne Victory and then Sydney FC. He signed with Philadelphia in 2013 and has played over 100 matches for them.

Onyewu, 35, developed by IMG Academy and Clemson (NCAA), is most well-known for his time at Belgian club Standard Liege (139 matches, 11 goals), and then for a number of short loans to other British and European sides, and signing with AC Milan on a three-years deal but never playing in a league match. Onyewu’s notoriety also stems from having earned 69 caps and scoring six goals for United States. “Gooch” signed with Philadelphia just this season and has played over 20 times for his new club.

Elliott, 22, is an English national produced by West Virginia (NCAA), where he played nearly 70 times. He has played over 25 times for Philadelphia in this, his first season with the club. He is a regular selection for his club despite his limited experience.

Rosenberry, 23, was produced by the Philadelphia Union youth system and Georgetown (NCAA). The Pennsylvania native has played nearly 50 matches with Philadelphia since he signed in 2016. He has only played in 14 matches this season.

Midfield –
Medunjanin, 32, is a Bosnian national developed by AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands. He has had extensive experience in European football at such clubs as AZ, Real Valladolid, Maccabi Tel Aviv, and Deportivo La Coruna. The Sarajevo native has 54 caps for Bosnia and Herzegovina, scoring eight goals in the process. He signed with Philadelphia just before this season began, and has played 31 times for his new club, scoring two goals.

Creavalle, 27, is a product of Furman and Central Florida of the NCAA. Philadelphia is his third MLS club in a domestic professional career that has seen him play over 120 matches. He has appeared 45 times for Philadelphia since he signed with them in 2015. Creaville has two caps for Guyana.

Bedoya, 30, was developed by Fairleigh Dickinson and Boston College of the NCAA. The New Jersey native has seen his football career take him to Sweden (Orebro and Helsingborgs), Scotland (Rangers), and France (Nantes) before arriving at Philadelphia in 2016. He has played 35 matches for Philadelphia this season. Bedoya has 64 caps for United States scoring two goals.

Forward –
Picault, 26, is a product of the Cagliari youth system. At the beginning of his career, he played in the NASL with Tampa Bay and Fort Lauderdale. After this, he moved to Sparta Prague where he did not make a single appearance. A move followed to FC St. Pauli in Germany where he played 22 times scoring four goals. He signed with Philadelphia just before this season began, and has played 25 times for his new club. Picault has one United States cap. Though listed as a midfielder, he lined up at left-wing in his midweek match against Atlanta United.

Sapong, 28, is a product of DC United and James Madison (NCAA). His eight-year domestic career has seen him play for MLS sides Kansas City and Orlando City before moving to Philadelphia in 2015. He has played nearly 90 times for Philadelphia, scoring 30 goals. His MLS experience is at nearly 200 matches and 50 goals. He has two United States caps. He is the most likely player in the side to score a goal.

Pontius, 30, is a product of UC Santa Barbara (NCAA). Before moving to Philadelphia in 2016 he had already played six years for DC United amassing over 150 appearances and 31 goals. He has played over 60 matches for Philadelphia, scoring 14 goals, since he signed with them in 2016. His total MLS experience encompasses over 210 matches and has seen him score 45 goals. Pontius has five United States caps. Though highly rated by the United States FA, his international opportunities have been limited by injuries. Pontius is listed as a midfielder but lined up at right-wing for his midweek match against Atlanta United.

Familiar Faces
Not a one.

Squads
Philadelphia from: Blake, McCarthy, McGuire, Elliott, Onyewu, Rosenberry, Yaro, Marquez, Aaron Jones, Trusty, Gaddis, Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Creavalle, Medunjanin, Carroll, Edu, Alberg, Bedoya, Pontius, Epps, Derrick Jones, Picault, Najem, Ilsinho, Mbu, Davies, Herbers, Sapong, Simpson.

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

Injury List
Philadelphia –
OUT: Tribbett (Achilles).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Edu (ankle & leg), Herbers (hernia), Ilsinho (Achilles), Aaron Jones (abdominal strain), Yaro (knee).

Sounders FC –
OUT: Evans (back), Morris (hamstring), Mallace (quadriceps).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Alonso (quadriceps), Torres (undisclosed).
UNAVAILABLE: Rodriguez (personal).

Discipline
None suspended from either side. Gaddis of Philadelphia is one booking away from a one-match ban.

Fun Fact
Seattle Sounders Academy U-17s currently have an unbeaten 4-0-0 record in the US Soccer Development Academy league. WELL DONE LADS!!!

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC v. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC – Pre-Match Analysis

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. We grow closer to the end of the MLS season. After this match, there will only be three left. Our auld rivals Vancouver Whitecaps FC are visiting the south for a rare midweek fixture. Support is crucial at this junction of the year. We have seen a great resurgence of our club. It has waned in recent fixtures. That is no call to give up hope. I will never give up hope. Our lads represent so many different things. The Pacific Northwest. The city of Seattle. The MLS. The United States FA. And us lot. Things have been not as well as we’d like. But we will not give over. We will persevere with our boys in Green. We shall stand tall in the Brougham End and greet the visitors with our cry. Our voices will be heard. One club. One voice. Perhaps the difference will be goals rather than strikes off the bar or the post. I will never lose confidence in the lads. Regardless of the numbers, I believe we will be victorious over the Whitecaps FC this night. Join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB AND VICTORY!!!

schmetz
What’s just gone wrong in the team, Gaffer?

The Good News
The side outside of a few players including Morris is healthy. We have man for man, arguably the most talented and accomplished side in the league. The Sounders have only lost one match this season at Royal Brougham Park. This should brand us as favourites to win.

Vancouver have a kind of take it or leave it away form (5-2-6), this should be encouraging. It’s also the type of statistic that should make our number realise how important they may factor into this match. I’d say supporters take note, but it’s clear you already know the level of support that must be achieved. We must needs keep it Green.

The Bad News
Where to start? Our resurgence has hurtled back to earth like a catapult shot. Vancouver sit 5th in the league, four places above us and four points clear. We have no wins in our last five matches. Vancouver have been unbeaten in their last five matches, winning four of them. In their last 10 matches, Vancouver have only lost once.

The all-time season series is even at 7-5-7. This season, we have yet to defeat the Whitecaps, as we have one draw and have lost once to them.

The maths are right out, as they have been unable to predict the last several results. Therefore, something must be wrong in the team. I have no idea what this is. Chemistry? Tactics? Effort? Fatigue? Fitness? I pray that there’s nothing wrong in the dressing room.

The raw maths say that Vancouver is more likely to score two goals in the match. Given our recent form, there’s nothing to dissuade me from thinking that will indeed be the case. Statistically, the likely result is a draw. But the numbers that favour us, haven’t been a proper indicator of results of late. So I feel the numbers indicate a dead heat. I literally have no idea what’s going to occur.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper –
Ousted, 32, is a veteran ‘keeper and has over 200 matches in Danish football. Over 100 of those with Randers FC, which competed twice in the Europa League during his time there.

Defence –
Nerwinski, 22, is newly recruited out of UConn (NCAA). The New Jersey native played 72 matches at Storrs, scoring five times. He’s played only 15 MLS matches in his first year. It is my assessment that Nerwinski is cover for the injured Edgar.

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

Parker, 24, is a domestic product who played his NCAA football at St. Johns, he has played just over 70 games as a professional.

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

Midfield –
Jacobsen, 31, developed by California (NCAA), has over 200 matches of MLS experience. He had loan spells at both Lorient and Stabæk. He’s played nearly 50 times for Vancouver since his move there in 2016.

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.

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

Reyna, 23, is a Peruvian international developed by Alianza Lima. After playing nearly 50 matches for Alianza he spent the next two years with RB Salzberg, this included loans to two other Austrian clubs and also at Leipzig in Germany. His tour in Austria and Germany saw him feature in 72 matches in all before his transfer to Vancouver this year. Reyna has six caps and two goals for Peru.

Techera, 25, is an Uruguayan national produced by Penarol and River Plate Montevideo. He played for River Plate (the one in Uruguay, not Argentine) 74 times scoring nearly 20 goals before his loan to BC Place. His move has since been made permanent and he has appeared 55 times for the ‘Caps scoring 14 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%. He is the most dangerous attacker in the Vancouver side.

Familiar Faces
Backup goalkeeper, 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.

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

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

Injury List
Sounders FC –
OUT: Evans (back), Morris (hamstring), Mallace (quadriceps).
MATCHDAY DECISION: None.

Vancouver –
OUT: Edgar (PCL, MCL), Laba (ACL).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Bolanos (knee).

Discipline
None suspended this match. Tchani is out next match if booked tonight.

Fun Fact
Cristian Roldan could have chosen to represent Guatemala, but rather than play for Los Chapines, he chose to wait for his Yanks callup. Well done, Roldie!

REAL SALT LAKE v. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC – Pre-Match Analysis

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. The Sounders travel to the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains to face conference rivals Real Salt Lake under the lights in Sandy, Utah.

Although the lads have had a bit of a rough go over the last four matches, I have full confidence that the side will right the ship and return to winning ways.

As supporters, it’s our job to generate the faith and will to help propel our boys in Green right over the top. Gather your Green family where you can and head to viewing parties, like the one the ECS is holding at the Atlantic Crossing pub in Seattle. For those of you at the ground, we know that you will give it your all and we’ll listen for your voices raised in song, as we follow along on the tele. Before kick-off, join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

stefan
The Sounders’ Minister of Defence, Stefan Frei.

The Good News
The Sounders continue their 13-match unbeaten run with their 0:0 draw at Dallas last week. The bulk of the squad is healthy and there is plenty of depth in the team to cover for recent injuries.

The raw maths suggest that Seattle is the side more likely to score two goals. We defeated Salt Lake in Seattle earlier in the season by a score of 1:0. That victory broke what was, at the time, a three-match losing streak.

Man for man, the Sounders have one of the most talented and accomplished sides in the league. Although Salt Lake’s form is in currently in a fine vein, they have been known to bleed goals at inopportune times. Both their losses within the last five matches saw them concede three goals, to Montreal and Vancouver. Salt Lake has conceded three or more goals in nine of their 30 matches this season.

Although Morris is out, the combination of Dempsey and Bruin should be enough to dispatch our opponent, with Jones ably covering at left wing for the injured Morris. Should Marshall be unfit to play tonight, Svensson and Alfaro have proven more than capable as cover in the centre-half position.

The markers point to victory, but the Sounders will have to produce a more convincing effort than they did last week in the Dallas if they plan on taking home all three points.

The Bad News
Seattle’s string of draws has seen them slip to 9th in the league table. In the last five matches, Salt Lake have scored 13 goals, conceding eight. In the Sounders’ last five matches they have scored five goals, conceding four.

Seattle was unable to score in their last match in Dallas. In fact, the Sounders only managed two on-target shots in the entire match.

Morris remains out with a hamstring problem. Marshall hasn’t been ruled out but is also nursing a hamstring issue.

Sandy, Utah is where dreams go to die, as the Sounders have only managed one win in eight matches there all-time.

The form book suggests, that Salt Lake is more likely to score multiple goals, with the Sounders struggling to score at all. In their last 11 matches, Salt Lake have only lost twice. The State Street ground sits at an elevation of over 4400’. Hopefully, thin air won’t be a problem.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper –
Rimando, 38, has played in nearly 450 MLS matches in his 18-year career, playing in 24 matches this season. The veteran goalkeeper has 22 caps for the United States. Needless to say, it’s tough to knock one past old man Rimando.

Defence –
Beltran, 29, has played his entire 10-year career with Salt Lake, amassing a total of over 240 appearances. The veteran right-back has been capped three times by United States.

Marcelo Silva, 28, lined up at right centre-half last match for Salt Lake. His football career of nine years has seen him play over 160 matches featuring for such clubs as Penarol in Uruguay, and Valladolid and Zaragoza in Spain. The Uruguayan national signed with Salt Lake just this July in the summer transfer window. He has appeared for his new club six times.

Glad, 20, played at left centre-half last match. This is his fourth year of MLS football. Tonight’s appearance will be the 50th of his career, all spent with Salt Lake. Glad was selected to the United States U-20 side that competed in the U-20 World Cup Finals, playing in four matches, and scored a goal against New Zealand in the round of 16.

Acosta, 19, supposedly lined up at left-back last match. He is listed as a midfielder on RSL’s website. Go figure. This is Acosta’s second year with Salt Lake. He has appeared 13 times for the club this season. This is also the sum total of his professional experience. He has eight caps and one goal for United States U-20s.
Midfield –

Midfield –
Mulholland, 29, lined up in a holding midfield role on the right side last time out. The Preston, England native once played 30 matches in a season with Reading United, scoring 8 goals. Mulholland went on to play over 80 matches of lower level US football with Wilmington, Minnesota Stars (later became Minnesota United), and Tampa Bay, before signing with Salt Lake in 2014. In his four years at Salt Lake, he has played over 115 times. Although he lines up in a defending role, Mulholland has proven to be a capable goal scorer. He is known as an uncompromising defender and provides a bit of hardness in the RSL midfield.

Beckerman, 35, lined up as a holding midfielder on the left side last match. Old man Beckerman’s 18-year career has seen him play nearly 430 MLS matches. He wears the Captain’s armband for his club. Although he has scored as many as seven goals in a season, he is more well-known for being a physical defender and his ball-winning abilities. Beckerman and Mulholland form a very imposing presence in defence. Beckerman has earned 58 caps with United States.

Savarino, 20, lined up as a left wing last match and is listed as a forward. The Venezuelan national is on a Designated Player contract. He is currently on loan at Salt Lake from his Venezuelan club, Zulia. At Zulia, Savarino has played 132 times scoring 32 goals. He has played 17 times for Salt Lake this year scoring five goals. He has one cap for Venezuela.

Rusnak, 23, lined up at central attacking midfield last match. The Slovakian international is on a Designated Player contract at Salt Lake and was a winter signing just before the start of the 2017 season. The Manchester City Academy product never played a match in the Premier League. He instead was loaned to Oldham, Birmingham City, and SC Cambuur in the Netherlands. These short loan spells were followed by his transfer to FC Groningen where he would play 61 times scoring nine goals over two seasons. Rusnak has five caps for Slovakia.

Plata, 25, lined up at left-wing last match and is listed as a forward. The Ecuadorian national is the product of LDU Quito’s youth system. He played seven times for Quito before transferring to Toronto FC. He transferred to Salt Lake in 2013 and has played a total of 165 matches of MLS football. He has seven goals this season but has scored as many as 13 in a season. Plata has four caps and two goals for Ecuador.

Forward –
Luis Silva, 28, lined up as the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation last match, though he is listed as a midfielder. His MLS career spans seven years and has seen him play a total of 135 matches combined with Toronto FC, DC United, and Real Salt Lake. He has six goals for Salt Lake this year. he has played 27 times for Salt Lake this season. After signing with Salt Lake in 2015, he then moved to Tigres UANL of the Mexican league. He played no matches in the first team for Tigres and transferred back to Salt Lake for the 2017 season.

Familiar Faces
RSL defender, Justin Schmidt was born in Washington state, played for UW, and also played for Washington Crossfire. Chad Barrett played 44 matches for Sounders FC scoring 12 goals.

Squads
Salt Lake from: Rimando, Van Oekel, Sparrow, Beltran, Dunk, Horst, Schmidt, Glad, Wingert, Acosta, Schuler, Marcelo Silva, Beckerman, Savarino, Sunny, Rusnak, Mulholland, Hernandez, Besler, Plata, Movsisyan, Saucedo, Lennon.

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

Injury List
Salt Lake –
OUT: Barrett (knee), Allen (knee), Holness (knee), Velazco (ankle).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Phillips (hamstring), Luis Silva (groin).

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

Discipline
None suspended from either side. For RSL, Schuler and Sunny are one booking away from a one-match ban.

Fun Fact
Sounders Academy U-15s won the Youdan Trophy this August. Other youth teams in the tournament represented Everton, Manchester United, FC Basel and Newcastle United. WELL DONE, LADS!!!