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

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

“Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant.” – Socrates

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. We have achieved a constancy with each other within the Green family, and surely we are all friends, united as we are in our support of the Sounders. And in this, we honour the words of Socrates. This season, the Sounders have finally earned an opportunity to reach the highest point in its eight-year MLS history. A chance for victory, in the MLS Cup Final, against a worthy adversary. We have seen this season’s football journey to its intended conclusion, overcoming significant obstacles for our chance at glory at Toronto’s Princes’ Boulevard ground. We know where the bluest skies, and greenest hills are. We’re going to explain it to the rest of the league, the rest of the country, and the world. We understand the necessary commitment to finish the job we started in March. We have defeated the two best sides in the league to get to the Final. What is one more great challenge to our boys in Green in their current form? I believe we have the talent, skill, technique, patience, pace, heart, and will to claim this trophy that we have sought in a similar way that Odysseus sought to find his way home to Ithaca. There is a singular goal. That goal is victory. In the Cup. Stand with me before the kickoff wherever you may be, voices loud, eyes bright. Whether you made it to the shores of Lake Ontario to be at the ground, at the pub with your mates, or at home watching intently on the tele, we all chant and sing as one this day. If we, the Sounders players and supporters, are of one heart, and one will, the side will return to the Evergreen with the MLS Cup. Before kickoff, join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

The Good News
Sounders FC have earned clean sheets against both the League Champions (Dallas) and runner-up (Colorado) in this MLS Cup. This establishes our Sounders as a legitimate threat to defeat any club, no matter how great their achievements may have been this year. We have held our opposition in this MLS Cup tournament to three goals in five matches (0.6 goals/match), including three clean sheets out of five matches and have yielded more than one goal only once (two goals to the Dallas in the second leg of the Quarter-Finals). Jordan Morris is an indomitable force of nature. Even whilst ill, he managed to score a massive goal against Colorado in the Semi-Finals. Lodeiro is truly a midfield maestro, and is perhaps the equivalent in our league to what Diego Maradona was at the height of his powers in the Argentine and Italian leagues. Lodeiro’s four cup goals form the backbone of this Cup run. The more attention Lodeiro receives from defenders, the more space is opened for his mates to run into and strike true. We have, arguably, the two best centre-halves in all of MLS in Marshall and Torres. They will have to be at their level best to contain Altidore, who is a nightmare assignment for any defender. To be fair, Toronto has worse worries. Morris, who is a tank of a forward, will likely be defended by either TFC’s right or left back. Either of these matchups favour Morris in any mean comparison of strength, pace, and sheer will. Nelson Valdez has experienced a return to form, scoring twice in this cup tournament.

The Bad News
Altidore has scored in each of his five MLS Cup matches. There are five or six players in the team for Toronto that can hurt you with a goal. The acknowledged danger men are Altidore and Giovinco who have combined for nine goals in this tournament. Should a defence manage to mark the two of them out of the match, Bradley, Osorio, Cooper, Ricketts, Johnson, and Cheyrou can hurt you with a goal using the spaces that Altidore and Giovinco create for them. Toronto have been showing iron discipline of late, with no bookings in their last three MLS Cup matches, and have as a side been booked only three times in their five matches. In our one meeting in the league we could only manage a 1:1 draw away against a Toronto side lacking Altidore, Bradley, and Giovinco. Against a Toronto side containing four players that weren’t even on the substitutes’ bench for Toronto’s last cup match. The sting of this is mitigated by the fact this match was in the Sounders’ pre-Lodeiro era, and also before Roman Torres’ return to full fitness. so it’s difficult to put too much emphasis on a result from early July of this year. The Cup Final will be nothing like that match in any respect other than that it will also be held in Toronto. Toronto have scored a ton in the Cup, hitting 17 goals (an average of 3.4 goals/match) and allowing only six. In stark relief, Sounders FC have scored eight goals in our five matches in this tournament (1.6 goals/match). Like our Jordan Morris, Altidore is an absolute tank – big, strong, pacy, and extremely difficult to defend.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Clint Irwin has played every match in the 2016 MLS Cup for TFC. He is fit, and is expected to start in the Final. He has over 140 professional appearances and has won a Canadian Championship with Toronto.

Defence – Zavaleta has over 60 pro appearances and has played 23 times for United States U-17s. Drew Moor is a seasoned veteran of nearly 350 appearances, 5 United States caps, and is one of the TFC defenders who might finish a chance if given it. Nick Hagglund is still young, like Zavaleta, but has nearly 60 pro appearances under his belt and has scored a goal in this MLS Cup run. Steven Beitashour has played nearly 200 pro matches and has six caps for Iran.

Midfield – Armando Cooper has played nearly 200 times as a pro scoring 31 times. Cooper has 75 caps and five goals for Panama. Cooper has won three Panamanian League Championships with Arabe Unido. Michael Bradley has over 300 appearances  and nearly 40 goals as a pro to add to 126 caps and 15 goals for United States. Bradley often captains the United States side and has won a Canadian Championship and a CONCACAF Gold Cup. Will Johnson has played over 250 matches as a pro, 40 of those in Dutch football. Johnson adds 30 professional goals to his 41 caps and four goals for Canada. Johnson has won two MLS Cups and one Canadian Championship. Justin Morrow has played over 200 times as a pro adding 22 goals. Morrow has one United States cap. Morrow won a Supporter’s Shield with San Jose in 2012.

Forward – Sebastian Giovinco has played over 250 times as a pro, with the better part of 200 of those appearances in Italian football – of those playing nearly 100 times for Juventus. He has scored 81 goals in his career, including nearly 40 goals in over 60 matches for TFC. Giovinco rounds out his resumé with 23 caps and one goal for Italy, winning three Italian league titles, an Italian SuperCup, and a Canadian Championship with TFC. Add to this a laundry list of personal honours. Jozy Altidore has played over 240 times as a pro. 70 of those appearances were in English football, adding nearly another 70 appearances in Dutch football. He starred at AZ Alkmaar hitting nearly 40 goals in just under 70 matches. He has scored over 20 in just under 50 matches with TFC. In addition, Altidore has just under 100 caps for United States having scored 37 goals. He has won a KNVB Cup with AZ Alkmaar, winning the Golden Boot as the top scorer in that competition. Both of these strikers are deadly finishers, with Alitdore having scored five in five in this cup, and hat-trick hero Giovinco hitting three goals against NYCFC in their Quarter-Final 2nd leg at Yankee Stadium. They represent the greatest scoring threat of all players in the Toronto side.

Familiar Faces
TFC defender, Eriq Zavaleta played five times for the Sounders FC. Midfielder Will Johnson played nearly 70 matches for the Treecutters, scoring 15 goals.

Selections for Last Match
Toronto: Irwin, Zavaleta, Moor, Hagglund, Beitashour, Cooper, Bradley, Johnson, Morrow, Altidore, Giovinco.

Bench: Bono (gk), Williams, Bloom, Ricketts, Osorio, Cheyrou, Endoh.

Sounders FC: Frei, Mears, Torres, Marshall, Joevin Jones, Alonso, Roldan, Morris, Lodeiro, Ivanschitz, Valdez.

Bench: Miller (gk), Alfaro, Fernández, Kovar, Fisher, Gómez, Scott.

Injury List
Toronto –
No reported injuries.

Sounders FC –
OUT: Dempsey (irregular heartbeat).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Anderson (hamstring).

Discipline
None suspended for either club.

Fun Fact
Toronto FC were granted their MLS franchise in 2005, two years before the league finally agreed to admit the Sounders FC in 2007, the year that Toronto played their first MLS season. Seattle would have to wait two more years to play their first MLS match.

MLS Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg – Victory Way, Commerce City, Colorado – COLORADO RAPIDS v. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. Sounders travel to the suburbs of Denver for an afternoon matinée showdown with Colorado Rapids in the MLS Cup Semi-Final second leg. To say 2016 has been a tough year for the Sounders would be a gross understatement. We lost 15 players in the offseason including Martins, Pappa, Rose, Neagle, and Barrett. We endured a bitterly difficult stretch in the league from mid-May through the end of July where we won only two out of 12 matches (2-2-8). We crashed out of the CONCACAF Champions League in the Quarter-Finals 5:3 on aggregate to one of the best teams in Western Hemisphere, Club America of Mexico City. We crashed out of the US Open Cup in the Quarter-Finals with a late 4:2 collapse in Los Angeles. We failed to win the league. We lost two of three matches in the Pacific Northwest Derby to the wretched Treecutters from Portland. We lost Sigi Schmid, the only manager that the MLS iteration of our side has ever known. Our stalwart skipper, Brad Evans lost his place in the first team. One of our best centre-halves, Roman Torres, was injured for a fair portion of the season, limiting him to nine appearances in the league. And we lost our finest striker, Clint Dempsey, whose heart ailment forced him out of the team near the very end of the season, threatening not only his decorated career, but his very life. When Brian Schmetzer took over the side in late July, it was as if it had been nothing but steel grey skies and rain for five months. And then we signed Nicolas Lodeiro, and it was as if the sun had come out for the first time in a half-year. We have a striker in Jordan Morris who has scored an impressive 12 goals in his first professional season. Since Schmetzer’s re-appointment we have gone on to great things. We finished the season by dramatically qualifying for the MLS Cup in the very last league match. Under Schmetzer’s caretaking, Sounders lost only two of the last 14 matches in the league, and his reward was to be named the club’s permanent manager. We’ve lost only once in four MLS Cup matches, leaving our number, our Green Family, wondering if there could be some manner of redemption after all that was lost by securing the Sounder’s Holy Grail, the MLS Cup. We are literally two matches away from doing that which we have never done in our eight years of membership in MLS. Two matches. To the Green Family, encompassing ECS, Eastside Supporters, Gorilla FC, my brothers and sisters of the Fog City Faithful in Mountain View, The Haight, and Pill Hill, The North End Faithful, and any and all of the rest of our supporters groups in the state of Washington and beyond the Evergreen, I call upon you to give your absolute very best. It is all hands on deck. Whether you be at the ground in Commerce City, at the local pub with your brothers and sisters in Green, or at home following on your tele, lend every bit of energy you have to spare to the effort at hand. Raise your glasses as the match begins and join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

The Good News

We are still unbeaten against Colorado in MLS Cup play with a 2-0-0 record. Anderson could be eligible for the substitute’s bench if he passes a late fitness test. The rest of the side (barring Dempsey) is fit and eligible for selection. Although MacMath is a good keeper, he is not in the same class as the injured Tim Howard. Cronin is out this match due to accumulated bookings, and the Rapids will miss his experience and quality. Sounders have rounded into top form over the last month or so, and look very strong indeed. The current aggregate is 1:2 in our favour. If we manage to score even once in Colorado, that would make the aggregate 1:3 in our favour and would require three goals from the Rapids to win the tie. Should we go ahead in the second leg 0:2, the aggregate score would be 1:4 and require four goals for Colorado to win – at that point the cup tie would likely be unrecoverable for Rapids. Sounders advance with a draw of any kind. The weather forecast for Commerce City is 51ºF, mostly sunny with no precipitation, and a westerly wind of 15 mph driving toward the east end of the Victory Way ground. With five Colorado players carrying bookings (Badji, Doyle, Jermaine Jones, Watts, and Burch) they will have to show considerable restraint to avoid suspension should Rapids go through. This can only be an advantage for us.

The Bad News

The Rapids have enough quality and experience to take advantage of any sort of letdown from the Sounders. In the league this season, Colorado were unbeaten at home in 17 matches (11-6-0). Our away record in the league was 4-4-9, though to be fair, most of that was compiled before the massive impact of Lodeiro’s arrival. It will require our best effort to defeat this team. Although we won 2:1 in Seattle, Colorado scored an away goal. This means that should we lose 1:0 in the second leg, leveling the aggregate, Colorado would advance on the away goals rule. The driving westerly wind could generate mayhem for the side defending the eastern goal. The altitude, at over 5100’, could factor into the result. The tie is only separated by one goal – this makes a result extremely difficult to predict. Alonso is a physical player and is carrying a booking into this match. Should he be booked this afternoon, he would miss the final. Roldan and Frei are in the same disciplinary boat as Ozzie. The match referee is Ricardo Salazar. This lends an uncomfortable level of unpredictability to this vital cup tie. To be fair (and when it comes to Salazar, it is very, very, very difficult for me to be fair), he was the referee in the Quarter-Final 1st leg when we beat the Dallas 3:0.

Know Thine Enemy

Goalkeeper: With Howard injured in Columbus, playing for the Yanks, MacMath becomes the starter for Colorado. He is experienced with over 100 professional appearances, but has no honours to show for it. His understudy is John Berner, a 25 year old with 47 pro appearances.

Defence: Eric Miller is a domestic product, solid if unspectacular. Sjöberg has less than 100 appearances, but has won honours at lower levels. Burch has over 200 pro appearances and has won two domestic titles.

Midfield: Watts has over 50 pro appearances and has spent time with USA U-17s. Jermaine Jones is a steady member in the current Yanks midfield, and a veteran player of the German league. He has 67 United States caps with four goals. Cronin is suspended this match, and will likely be replaced by one of these three midfield players from the substitute’s bench last week: Pappa has played nearly 200 pro matches, and has 51 caps and 11 goals for Guatemala. Pappa won the League and the US Open Cup when he was with the Sounders. Powers has nearly 100 pro appearances, and was a one-time MLS Rookie of the Year. Azira, another former Sounder, has nearly 100 pro appearances, and has won a USL Cup, a MLS League Championship, and a US Open Cup – the latter two titles while playing in Seattle.

Forward: Le Toux has the better part of 300 pro appearances with over 80 goals, beginning at Lorient in France with the rest of his career played in MLS. Doyle has the better part of 500 appearances as a pro. His exploits for his clubs as well as Eire are legendary. Gashi has over 200 pro appearances with over 80 goals. Gashi adds a list of honours from Swiss football and over 10 caps for Albania.  Badji has over 50 pro appearances.

Familiar Faces

Burch played 49 times for Sounders FC. Le Toux played 75 times for the two most recent iterations of the Sounders, scoring 25 goals. Marco Pappa played 55 times for the Sounders scoring nine goals, while playing 52 times for Guatemala. Michael Azira played 25 times for the Sounders first team.

Selections for Last Match

Colorado: MacMath, Miller, Watts, Sjöberg, Burch, Cronin, Jermaine Jones, Le Toux, Kevin Doyle, Gashi, Badji.

Bench: Berner (gk), Burling, Mekeil Williams, Pappa, Powers, Azira, Hairston.

Sounders FC: Frei, Mears, Torres, Marshall, Joevin Jones, Alonso, Roldan, Lodeiro, Friberg, Morris, Valdez.

Bench: Miller (gk), Scott, Fisher, Ivanschitz, Evans, Fernández, Gómez.

Injury List

Colorado –

OUT: Howard (adductor), Serna (knee surgery).

Sounders FC –

OUT: Dempsey (irregular heartbeat).

MATCHDAY DECISION: Anderson (hamstring).

Discipline

Colorado: Cronin suspended this match (accumulated bookings). Badji, Doyle, Watts, Jermaine Jones, and Burch are carrying bookings into this match.

Seattle: Alonso, Roldan, and Frei are carrying bookings into this match.

Fun Fact

In 2006, the company known as Dick’s Sporting Goods signed a 20-year deal for the naming rights to the Victory Way ground. Ten gets you twenty that their ground will never be referred to as Dick’s Park by Colorado supporters. Sort of. According to Wikipedia, the stadium is also known as “The Dick”. Was it our lads that coined that? The moral of the story: Corporate naming rights for stadia rarely (if ever) inspire the fans of professional sports clubs and can sometimes be awkward or even embarrassing. Secondary moral: Cash can buy you many things – dignity isn’t one of them.

MLS CUP Semi-Final 1st Leg – Royal Brougham Park, Seattle, WA. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC v. COLORADO RAPIDS

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. The long march has brought us nigh. The MLS Cup semi-finals. We’ve been here twice before, and crashed out. But this team has a new resilience, and resolve. Lodeiro now presides over an offense that cannot be predicted easily. What will become of us…who can say? But in the spirit fitting our supporters, we shouldn’t be weighed down by the enormity of a semi-finals appearance. We should consider it our rightful place in the pantheon of MLS clubs, and back our Sounders to victory. I write a lot about us finding each other, whether it be at the park or in a local pub that supports the Green Family. I write these things because one voice alone is lost in the din of everything else. Two voices are doubly strong. The more voices you stack on the energy created grows exponentially. I believe words said and songs sung on behalf of our boys in Green have a universal impact, making a real difference in the quality of play for our lads. My lot in FCF and our friends at ECS and all of its sub-groups know what I mean when I say this. Our words, chants, and yelling matter. It matters wholesale and makes us better for being part of something larger than ourselves. We are joyful, and we shall make a joyful noise. A massive noise that will deafen our opponents. We will brightly go forth and be counted. Eyes bright, voices heard. There is something about this place, the Pacific Northwest. It fortifies us, makes us feel solid and real. Our boys in Green represent all that we are, and where we are from. We are behind our Sounders, and they are behind us, without fail. As certain as the gentle waves lapping on Alki Beach, we are all one. Green and Blue. Sound and sky. My energy will be knit with yours and that of you and your mates. We will generate a monolithic presence this night, and good things will come of it. When you get your cup of beer, think of all of your mates around you, all over the region and the country. Join us all in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

The Good News
We triumphed over the Dallas, the League and US Open Cup double winners. Based on this, all things are possible. Although the loss of Tim Howard to the Yanks and Colorado is terrible, the silver lining for the Sounders is that we don’t have to face that level of goalkeeping experience. We’ve only played against Colorado in one MLS Cup tie in history. In that match, held in Seattle, we won 2:0. So results good, sample size for data incredibly limited. We are finding ways to win despite having lost Dempsey, Ivanschitz, and Fernandez. Lodeiro is a godsend.

The Bad News
Colorado were the runners-up for the League title. They have a fair amount of quality and experience in their team. In a queer way, we are playing a mirror version of ourselves with four former players in the Colorado squad. Cup football can turn pear-shaped easily. In the Seattle rain, the unthinkable could become possible – for either side. This is the third time the Sounders have made it to the semi-finals. In our two previous appearances we were eliminated.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper: With Howard injured in Columbus, playing for the Yanks, MacMath becomes the starter for Colorado. He is experienced with over 100 professional appearances, but has no honours to show for it. His understudy is John Berner, a 25 year old with 47 pro appearances.

Defence: Eric Miller is a domestic product, solid if unspectacular. Sjöberg has less than 100 appearances, but has won honours at lower levels. Burch has over 200 pro appearances and has won two domestic titles.

Midfield: Watts has over 50 pro appearances and has spent time with USA U-17s. Cronin has the better part of 300 pro appearances, three North American titles, and two United States caps. Jermaine Jones is a steady member in the current Yanks midfield, and a veteran player of the German league. He has 67 United States caps with four goals.

Forward: Le Toux has the better part of 300 pro appearances with over 80 goals, beginning at Lorient in France with the rest of his career played in MLS. Doyle has the better part of 500 appearances as a pro. His exploits for his clubs as well as Eire are legendary. Gashi has over 200 pro appearances with over 80 goals. Gashi adds a list of honours from Swiss football and over 10 caps for Albania.  Badji has over 50 pro appearances.

Familiar Faces
Burch played 49 times for Sounders FC. Le Toux played 75 times for the two most recent iterations of the Sounders, scoring 25 goals. Marco Pappa played 55 times for the Sounders scoring nine goals, while playing 52 times for Guatemala. Michael Azira played 25 times for the Sounders first team.

Selections for Last Match
Sounders FC: Frei, Mears, Scott, Marshall, Joevin Jones, Alonso, Roldan, Lodeiro, Friberg, Morris, Valdez.

Bench: Miller (gk), Torres, Alfaro, Evans, Kovar, Fisher, Gómez.

Colorado: Howard, Eric Miller, Watts, Sjoberg, Burch, Cronin, Jermaine Jones, Le Toux, Doyle, Gashi, Badji.

Bench: MacMath (gk), Burling, Williams, Powers, Azira, Hairston, Pappa.

Injury List
Sounders FC –
OUT: Dempsey (irregular heartbeat).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Morris (hamstring), Ivanschitz (knee), Fernandez (hamstring), Torres (hamstring), Remick (concussion).

Colorado –
OUT: Serna (knee surgery), Howard (adductor).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Gashi (ankle).

Discipline
Sounders FC: Alonso, Roldan, and Frei are carrying bookings.
Colorado: Badji, Watts, Jermaine Jones, and Cronin are carrying bookings.

Fun Fact
The Rapids’ use of burgundy for their colours inspired Scottish band Little Eye (fronted by Rapids’ player, Jamie Smith’s brother), to write a song called “Burgundy Sky” which has become the club’s official anthem. It’s super catchy. Why don’t we have a rock n’ roll sibling in our side? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5pcvVYnHpk after listening shower off with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=363wCcJdSbA

MLS Cup Quarter-Final 2nd Leg – Lamar Hunt Way, Frisco, TX FC DALLAS v. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC – Pre-Match Analysis

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. Seattle travel to Lamar Hunt Way to face FC Dallas in the MLS Cup Quarter-Final second leg. We have a 3:0 lead on aggregate going into this, the most important match of the season for our Sounders. I wrote everything that I couldn’t think to cover from last week. This pre-match is the best analysis I can muster based on interpreting the events of last Sunday’s triumphant victory in Seattle. Do I have to say “support is vital”? No. You know and I know what’s at stake here, and what we as the clubs fervent supporters must do to help our boys in Green the only way we know. Cheering, chanting, standing, singing. Hearts full, eyes forward. As we support our side with all our collective might, join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

The Good News
Going into the second leg with a 3:0 lead sees the Sounders firmly in charge as they roll into Dallas having won their last two matches. Barring a complete defensive collapse you could make a compelling argument that the Sounders are the favourites to advance to the MLS Cup Semi-Finals. Bottom line, Dallas have to score three goals to force extra time and possibly a penalty shootout. Dallas need to score four goals conceding none in order to win the tie outright. Should the Sounders score an away goal, Dallas would have to score five goals to win the cup tie outright as drawing level on aggregate would still see the Sounders through on away goals. The Cup sees Frei, Marshall, Torres, Joevin Jones, Lodeiro, and Alonso all in top form for tonight’s match in Frisco. Morris is providing excellent support play in flashes and is always a threat to score. Remick may be available for selection, provided he’s made a full recovery from his concussion. Additionally, Anderson may be available as cover at forward, provided his hamstring has returned to full fitness.

The Bad News
Statistically, Lamar Hunt Way is where dreams go to die for the Sounders. We’ve only won twice there in the league. In addition to the sharply felt absence of Dempsey, Ivanschitz and Fernández were left behind in Seattle, due to injuries. The Dallas have won the League and US Open Cup double this year. They are unbeaten in CONCACAF Champions League group play and will face CD Árabe Unido of Panama in the tournament’s Quarter-Finals during February and March of the coming year. By all apparent indicators and metrics, last week’s shock victory shouldn’t have been possible. So these questions have to be asked “Are the Sounders peaking to the height of their potential quality? Or have the Dallas failed to play up to the expectations of their trophy-filled season?” Regardless of our record at Dallas in MLS Cup, these are the relevant questions, and my heart says the Sounders are up for it. Numbers and probability say that anomalous results (if indeed last week’s triumph was, in fact, an anomaly, which is a completely different argument) generally return to the centre of the distribution. I can only imagine that we have stung the pride of a team that has won two of three domestic cups, and is pursuing the first CONCACAF title for an American club side since the LA Galaxy won in 2000, back when the competition was called the CONCACAF Champions Cup. The question is, with Dallas’ back to the wall, and the Sounders in top form…who wins that? What was originally billed as a David vs. Goliath matchup, has turned into a clash of the titans. Stay tuned.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Seitz is able and has won an MLS Cup with Salt Lake. Seitz’s only fault might be seen in the fact that he hasn’t yet played 100 pro matches (currently at 77 appearances as of May 2016). Seitz’s understudies, Gonzalez and Herman have 17 appearances between the two of them.

Defence – Harris, though able (28 goals) and experienced (226 matches played), is getting long in the tooth at 31 years-old. Hedges is able if unspectacular, and in the peak of his career. Zimmerman, at the tender age of 23, has played several times at various youth levels for the United States, but his pro experience is limited at less than 100 matches. Figeroa a mainstay for Honduras, has many tools at his disposal to deter would-be goal scorers. The Argentinian, Paparatto, can provide cover if needed as he is an experienced hand, once winning the MLS Cup with the Treecutters.

Midfield – Acosta is quickly becoming a fixture in the American national team. Although his professional experience is limited at under 100 matches, it’s clear Jurgen Klinsmann sees enough in him to award him four United States caps. Hollingshead is a domestic product with less than 50 pro appearances (as of 3 June of this year). Despite this, he started last week in Seattle. Gruezo has a lot of experience for a 21 year-old along with 10 caps for Ecuador, and won a club championship with Barcelona SC (Ecuador). Barrios scored against the Sounders in our May matchup in the league. He is still relatively young at 25, is a dangerous threat in front of goal, and played a great deal of top division football in Colombia.

Forward – Urruti started for Dallas in the win against LA. He is reasonably experienced for his age (25), scores a fair amount (nearly a goal every two matches), played nearly 60 times for Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, and won an MLS Cup with the Treecutters in cursed 2015. Akindele, though listed as a midfield player in last weeks lineup, is listed as a forward on the Dallas team roster. His experience as a pro is limited although this is mitigated by his goalscoring ability his 10 caps for Canada, and his MLS 2014 Rookie of the Year award. And lurking on the Dallas bench is Carlos “Pescado” Ruiz whose exploits as a generational talent for Guatamela are legendary.

Familiar Faces
Urruti and Paparatto were part of the Treecutters MLS Cup winning side in 2015. Mauro Rosales played nearly 90 times for the Sounders from 2011-2013.

Selections for Last Match
FC Dallas: Seitz, Harris, Zimmerman, Hedges, Figueroa, Hollingshead, Acosta, Ulloa, Gruezo, Urruti, Barrios.

Bench: Gonzalez (gk), Rosales, Paparatto, David, Ortiz, Akindele, Ruiz.

Sounders FC: Frei, Mears, Scott, Marshall, Joevin Jones, Alonso, Roldan, Lodeiro, Friberg, Morris, Valdez.

Bench: Miller (gk), Fisher, Alfaro, Evans, Farfan, Kovar, Gómez.

Injury List
FC Dallas –
OUT: Lloyd (concussion), Diaz (Achilles tendon).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Acosta (hip).

Sounders FC –
OUT: Dempsey (irregular heartbeat), Fernandez (hamstring), Ivanschitz (knee).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Remick (concussion), Anderson (hamstring).

Discipline
No suspensions. Alonso from the Sounders and Figueroa both carry a booking into this match. Both were punished for unsporting play. Alonso against Kansas City in the First Round, and Figueroa in the first leg last Sunday in Seattle.

Fun Fact
According to a FIFA article called “The Clubs, the facts and the origin of their names” http://m.fifa.com/live-scores/news/y=1996/m=2/news=the-clubs-the-facts-and-the-origin-their-names-71411.html  Dallas was originally named the Burn because: “The fire-breathing mustang shows raw horsepower and speed in the high-combustion Texan oilfield; “Burn” is a reference not only to Texas’s most famous export but also to the effects of the summer sun.” Oh where to start?

MLS CUP QUARTER-FINAL 1st LEG – ROYAL BROUGHAM PARK, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON -SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC v. FC DALLAS – Pre Match Analysis

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. Throw out the form book. It’s time for Cup football, American style. With the Sounders winning midweek, in what was perhaps the most bizarrely refereed contest in MLS history (barring the US Open Cup Final in 2012 in Kansas City, infamously and incompetently refereed by Baron von Salazar), this year’s Cup story continues anew with a Quarter-Final 1st Leg cup tie, tonight at Royal Brougham Park. Our worthy opponent: The Dallas (the reason I call them this, is that in the song We Came to Drink, the only way the fill-in-the-blank-team-here lyric can fit properly, is if you sing it “Can you hear the Dallas sing?…” because if you do “Can you hear Dallas sing” awkward pause, right. And if you do “Can you hear FC Dallas sing.” jamming too many lyrics in a tight space yeh? Just sayin’). Our vital support has helped see our boys in Green through two heart-wrenching, must-win football matches – the league finale a week ago against the Salt Lake, and the midweek cup tie against Kansas City which was more out of control than the 1990 World Cup Semi-Final between Italy and Argentina. And that’s saying something for those that haven’t had the pleasure of seeing that match. http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/matches/round=3464/match=28/index.html I understand that as a referee you don’t want to book a player in a knockout match, unless you absolutely have to. However, if you eat your whistle for too many severe fouls, the match spins out of control and more often than not, players get hurt. Ismail Elfath has hopefully learnt his lesson, as did Michel Vautrot in 1990. With all that said, we – through the massive last gasp Goal of Redemption by Nelson Valdez – booked our place in the Quarter-Finals against MLS League Champions, the Dallas. By virtue of the Salt Lake falling to Los Angeles, the Galaxy, having finished higher in the conference than we, earned the privilege of playing the lower-seeded Colorado Rapids. This is by no means a holiday for our rivals from the Southland, as the Dallas were only two points clear of runners-up Colorado when they won the league on the last matchday of the season. As we were slower to put together a comprehensive season portfolio, we get the league champions. So be it. The side have never backed down from a challenge before. Tonight will be no different. Keep your sedatives and heart medication handy as we buckle in for another woolly one. I will keep the faith, and so will ye. Sounders supporters across the vast expanse of America, join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

The Good News
Although you can generally throw out the form book when it comes to cup football, it is noteworthy to mention that although the Dallas were unbeaten in their last five league matches, only two of them were wins. One of them against us, unfortunately. In fact, in Dallas’ last league match, they only managed a 0:0 draw against Los Angeles at Avalon Boulevard. This proves out that, at least this season, the Dallas’ away form shows them to be rather ordinary. This would be underscored by the 5:0 thrashing we dealt to them in Seattle this July. Our’s and Dallas’ goals scored/conceded numbers in the league were pretty much the same. So the ultimate result of this cup tie is going to boil down to grit, nerve, and mentality. Meanwhile, in the Evergreen, Seattle has managed to grind out two must-win results to get this far, 2:1 over the Salt Lake to cement qualification for MLS Cup, and memorably 1:0 over Kansas City in the Cup midweek. Will the recent battle-testing of our Sounders see us through? Will the rest from the knockout bye-week fortify the Dallas to victory? I can honestly say, without reservation, that I am glad that I am not an oddsmaker for this match. Barring a lapse in our current play and/or exhaustion, it would seem reasonable to say that in the first leg, our boys in Green could be in with a shout.

The Bad News
For every silver lining exists it’s opposite leaden one. You won’t find that maxim anywhere as I think I just created it (™DISK DOKTOR ©2016). Playing such a big match after a midweek fixture could present problems for the Sounders with regards to squad depth and fatigue. It’s true that statistics in goals scored/conceded we are roughly the same as Dallas. It’s true that we beat them 5:0 in our home league meeting in July. However both away matches at the Lamar Hunt Boulevard ground were lost. With a 2:0 defeat in May, and more recently and painfully two weeks ago, the one that got away, with a score of 2:1. The bad news doesn’t end there. This MLS Quarter-Final tie will be the third played in a row between these two sides in three consecutive years. We were eliminated from MLS Cup on aggregate scores of 1:1 on away goals (2014), and 3:3, losing spectacularly in a 4:2 penalty shootout (2015). Of the four matches just mentioned, we only won one of them outright. So the numbers, albeit from a very limited sample, do not favour our success. In addition, the last match our side were extremely fond of gifting possession to Kansas City at every turn. The lack of player movement to support the football, was also troubling as playing one-twos are the best way to beat quality opposition. There were far too many instances of Sounders players thinking they had time for a control touch, only to be dispossessed promptly by a Kansas City defender. Although Kansas City weren’t able to punish us for these transgressions, you can be assured that the Dallas will not have that problem. The September purchase of legendary Guatemalan goalscorer, Carlos “Pescado” Ruiz from CSD Municipal does not bode well for us. Our top quality centre-halves, Marshall and Torres, have generally handled some of the best strikers the league has to offer. It is worthy of mention, however that even at the advanced age of 37 – Ruiz is a predatory finisher, as he demonstrated by torpedoing any hope of a result two weeks ago in Frisco, Texas with his 89th minute winner. It is worth noting that FC Dallas were able to incite the normally even-tempered Landon Donovan into a booking for unsporting behaviour. Mind that temper of yours, Ozzie. Also, Salazar is the referee. The hits just keep on comin’.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Seitz is able and has won an MLS Cup with Salt Lake. Seitz’s only fault might be seen in the fact that he hasn’t yet played 100 pro matches (currently at 77 appearances as of May 2016). Seitz’s understudies, Gonzalez and Herman have 17 appearances between the two of them.

Defence – Harris, though able (28 goals) and experienced (226 matches played), is getting long in the tooth at 31 years-old. Hedges is able if unspectacular, and in the peak of his career. Zimmerman, at the tender age of 23, has played several times at various youth levels for the United States, but his pro experience is limited at less than 100 matches. Figeroa is a mainstay for Honduras and his experience and leadership will fortify the Dallas’ defence. Look for the Argentinian, Paparatto, to fill in as needed. He is experienced, once winning the MLS Cup with the Treecutters.

Midfield – Acosta is quickly becoming a fixture in the American team. Although his professional experience is limited at under 100 matches, it’s clear Jurgen Klinsmann sees enough in him to award him four United States caps. Gruezo has a lot of experience for a 21 year-old along with 10 caps for Ecuador, and a club championship with Barcelona SC (Ecuador). Barrios scored against the Sounders in our May matchup in the league. He is still relatively young at 25, scores goals, and played a great deal of top division football in Colombia. Diaz has a ton of experience for a 25 year-old mixed with a bit of goalscoring ability, and played 49 times for River Plate in Argentina.

Forward – Urruti started for Dallas in the win against LA. He is reasonably experienced for his age (25), scores a fair amount (nearly a goal every two matches), played nearly 60 times for Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, and won an MLS Cup with the Treecutters in cursed 2015. Akindele, though listed as a midfield player in last weeks lineup, is listed as a forward on the Dallas team roster. His experience as a pro is limited although this is mitigated by his goalscoring ability his 10 caps for Canada, and his MLS 2014 Rookie of the Year award. And Carlos “Pescado” Ruiz. See above.

Familiar Faces
Urruti and Paparatto were part of the Treecutters MLS Cup winning side in 2015. Mauro Rosales played nearly 90 times for the Sounders from 2011-2013.

Selections for Last Match
Sounders FC (MLS Cup 1st Round): Frei, Mears, Torres, Marshall, Joevin Jones, Alonso, Friberg, Roldan, Lodeiro, Fernández, Morris.

Bench: Miller (gk), Scott, Fisher, Valdez, Evans, Kovar, Gómez.

FC Dallas (Final match of MLS league schedule): Seitz, Harris, Zimmerman, Hedges, Figueroa, Barrios, Acosta, Gruezo, Hollingshead, Urruti, Akindele.

Bench: Gonzalez (gk), Paparatto, Ulloa, Ruiz, Rosales, David, Lizarazo.

Injury List
[Injury reports during cup tournaments are rather closely guarded secrets by all clubs. This is my best estimate, based on current appearances or lack thereof]

Sounders FC –
OUT: Dempsey (irregular heartbeat), Ivanschitz (knee), Remick (concussion).

FC Dallas –
OUT: Lloyd (concussion), Diaz (Achilles tendon).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Acosta (hip).

Discipline
Sounders FC:
Alonso carries his booking for unsporting play into this match. Alonso may be out next booking, provided that during MLS Cup, the FIFA system (second booking out next match) is used, rather than the (five bookings and out next match) MLS league approach.

Dallas:
As this is Dallas’ first match in this tournament, their disciplinary slate would seem to be clean.

Fun Fact
US Open Cup namesake since 1999, Lamar Hunt and his family are the owners of the Dallas MLS franchise. The original trophy for the US Open Cup was the Dewar Cup donated by Sir Thomas Dewar. Yes the Scottish distillery owner – that Dewar. It was awarded by Sir Thomas for the promotion of football in the United States in 1912 until the trophy’s retirement in 1979, due to poor condition. The United States Adult Soccer Association brought the Dewar Cup back into use in 1997, apparently as a display item at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, New York.

MLS Cup 1st Round – Royal Brougham Park, Seattle, WA SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC v. SPORTING KANSAS CITY Pre-Match Analysis

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. And with our triumph over Salt Lake in the season finale, the league fixture list comes to a close with our MLS Cup qualification assured. Tonight, we will begin our eighth MLS Cup tournament. The Sounders FC have never failed to qualify for MLS Cup since our rebirth in 2009. The first round are all knockout matches. So it’s win or go home. Statistics and trends from the league schedule, or even from previous MLS Cup tournaments, have little relevance in a one match playoff. I’ll do my utmost to piece together a reasonable expectation of what you will likely see from tonight’s cup tie. Again, support is vital. Rally the Green Family, with ECS and all her sub-groups in every corner of the nation. If you’re in the Puget Sound area try to get a ticket to the match. If you can’t manage that, try to connect with your local supporters group for a viewing party at a local pub or at the home of a brother or sister in Green. For domestic football in America, there is no greater stage than the MLS Cup. For the players and manager Brian Schmetzer, the stakes can be no higher. Sporting make the trip from Kansas to Occidental Avenue to face us in a single match playoff. The stakes: Advancement to the MLS Western Conference Semi-Finals. When you get to the park give every scrap of energy you can manage to help support our boys in Green. Lend your full voice to the cause. C’MON SEATTLE…FIGHT…AND WIN!!! From wherever you are, all our spirits will be as one this night. And wherever you may find yourselves, raise your cups and join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY.

The Good News
Everyone in the starting eleven for the season finale is eligible for selection. Evans and Valdez seem to have overcome their injury problems, as they were available on the substitute’s bench last week. Rubio, Sporting’s Chilean Designated Player, is out as he continues his rehab from an ACL tear. As Rubio was one of Sporting’s major scoring threats, it’s one less thing our centre-halves have to worry about. We play this match at Royal Brougham Park, in front of the best supporters in the league. This is a tremendous advantage. If I’ve done the maths correctly we are 6-3-2 at home in MLS Cup ties (W-D-L). Despite a late season lapse of form over the last few games, we managed a good result against a resolute Salt Lake side last Sunday. Provided that our execution and compete level are the same as in the last match, we should be in fighting shape for cup football. With any luck, the knock Fernández took on Sunday will be nothing but a stinger and he will open the match at right midfield. Should Fernández be scratched, we can count on Gómez (or another) filling in ably.

The Bad News
Our overall record in MLS Cup is less than sparkling with seven wins from 20 matches (7-4-9). Ivanschitz’ knee problem was enough to keep him out of last week’s vital match against Salt Lake. This tells me that the Austrian’s injury is perhaps quite severe, and that we shouldn’t expect him in the matchday 18. His experience and his ability on set pieces will be missed barring a miraculous recovery. To the best of my knowledge, Dylan Remick is still undergoing post-concussion protocol and it is my expectation that he will not be available for selection tonight. Although Remick will be missed, there is plenty of depth in the squad at the full-back position – notably: Joevin Jones, Alfaro, Fisher, Evans, and if necessary, Roldan. Anderson may be fit to sit the substitute’s bench as a striker, provided that he passes a late fitness test with his ailing hamstring. The fact that Anderson wasn’t among the substitutes for the last match make me think that he will be a scratch for tonight. If you look at the season numbers for both clubs, there isn’t much to separate us from Kansas City apart from the clear advantage of playing at home.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper –
Count on Tim Melia to be between the pipes for Kansas City. He is their most experienced goalkeeper, and has played in all but seven of his teams matches in the league this season.

Defence – Abdul-Salaam is quite young and inexperienced as a pro. You would have to imagine that if Meyers is fit that he would be selected over Abdul-Salaam. Don’t know much about Ellis save to say he has over 60 pro matches under his belt, so perhaps Coelho and his scads of European experience would be preferred. Besler is a seasoned pro and a regular selection for United States. Seattle forwards will have their hands full trying to get around Besler. Sinovic is a seasoned veteran who has won a US Open Cup and an MLS Cup with Kansas City. He’ll be in the team if he’s fit.

Midfield –
Feilhaber’s exploits as a United States international are well known. He’s experienced, skillful, and also a threat to score. Mustivar, a Haitian international, is a veteran of Romanian football having won a cup there. He’ll be in the team. Nagamura has won five domestic titles between his time with Los Angeles and Kansas City. The São Paulo, Brazil native also put in three years at Arsenal FC’s youth academy. Graham Zusi has over 40 caps for United States, bags full of experience, a laundry list of honours, and over 25 professional goals to his name.

Forward –
Dwyer is the danger man, having scored 16 goals in the league this year. The UK born striker was originally a product of the Norwich City FC youth system. Espinoza, listed as a midfield player, is plenty good. He has nearly 50 caps for Honduras and has won three titles, including an English FA Cup with Wigan Athletic FC.

Familiar Faces
Former California Golden Bears player Connor Hallisey is now a contracted midfield player for Sporting KC. SKC defender, Olum played 44 times for arch-rivals Portland scoring six goals.

Selections for Last Match
Sounders FC: Frei, Mears, Torres, Marshall, Joevin Jones, Alonso, Friberg, Roldan, Lodeiro, Fernández, Morris.

Bench: Miller (gk), Scott, Fisher, Valdez, Evans, Kovar, Gómez.

Kansas City: Melia, Abdul-Salaam, Ellis, Besler, Sinovic, Feilhaber, Mustivar, Nagamura, Zusi, Dwyer, Espinoza.

Bench: Kann (gk), Coelho, Opara, Olum, Hallisey, Peterson, Medranda.

Injury List
Seattle –
OUT: Dempsey (irregular heartbeat), Ivanschitz (knee), Remick (concussion).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Anderson (hamstring).

Kansas City –
OUT: Rubio (ACL).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Mapp (calf), Myers (thigh), Davis (calf).

Discipline
None suspended as no bookings have yet been issued in the MLS Cup for either club.

Fun Fact
Tonight’s match is the first ever meeting between Seattle and Kansas City in the MLS Cup.

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

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. After 33 matches in the league, six matches in the CONCACAF Champions League, and three matches in the US Open Cup, it has all come down to this, the season finale. If we win, we are through and clear to the MLS Cup tournament. If we lose we will likely not qualify. If we draw, things get extremely murky (see below). Playing in the Evergreen of Seattle, we have only lost twice in 10 matches to the Salt Lake. We have the advantage. We have the best supporters in the league. Whether you be at Royal Brougham Park, at the pub with members of the Green Family, or minding yourself on the setee at home, support for this match is vital. I have faith in our boys in Green, and I know you do as well. Join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

The Good News
Seattle have only lost one in their last seven matches. Salt Lake have had a tough time of it and haven’t won a match in their last six. All-time in the league, against RSL at home, the Sounders have won six of the 10 meetings, outscoring RSL by 10 goals. We’ve got Alonso back from suspension and that’s no small thing.

The Bad News
After a torrid run of form in which the Sounders won four consecutive matches, we haven’t managed to win either of the last two. Losing Ivanschitz at this late stage is a bad sign. We have enough depth to cover, but it bears mentioning that with Ivanschitz out, we lose out on his many matches of European experience. He is not expected to play this afternoon. After everything the Sounders have been through this season, MLS Cup qualification has come down to the last match – as it did last season.

MLS Cup Qualification Scenarios
A Sounders loss coupled with wins by Portland (@ Vancouver) and Kansas City (v. San Jose) would see Seattle off with no Cup appearance.

A Sounders win ensures qualification regardless of what Portland or Kansas City do.

If the Sounders lose and Kansas City and/or Portland both draw, the three clubs would be level on 45 points with the first two tie-breakers being wins and goal difference.

If the Sounders draw, both Kansas City and Portland would have to win to displace us.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Barring an act of God, you’d have to imagine Nick Rimando will start for Salt Lake. He is a veteran player with nearly 400 appearances under his belt. He has 21 caps for United States, is a five-time MLS All-Star. He’s won two MLS Cups, and three MLS Conference Championships, and a CONCACAF Gold Cup with United States. At 37, Rimando shows no signs of slowing down.

Defence – Beltran is a solid pro, with nearly 200 appearances. Glad is young with less than 50 appearances. This is mitigated by his 14 appearances at various youth levels for United States. Schuler is another solid US produced pro. Phillips has over 60 caps for Jamaica.

Midfield – Beckerman is a prototypical stopper centre-half type of midfielder. He is thoroughly a veteran with over 700 matches played and over 50 caps for United States. Beckerman is a five-time MLS All-Star and has won an MLS Cup and a CONCACAF Gold Cup with the USA. Mulholland though born in England, worked his way up through the modern incarnation of the NASL to finally earn his place in Utah two years ago. Morales is a veteran pro who played the better part of 200 matches in the Argentinian league. Add another 200 or so in MLS and you understand the type of player he is. He is a two-time MLS All-Star and won an MLS Cup with Salt Lake in 2009.

Forward – Martinez is also a veteran of Argentinian football, winning three titles with Velez Sarsfield. Movsisyan has over 30 caps for Armenia and nearly 150 matches of European experience. He is one of Salt Lake’s greatest threats to score a goal. Although young at age 24, Plata has won three national championships. He is one of only two Salt Lake players to score three goals against Seattle in the league. Plata is a dangerous scoring threat.

Familiar Faces
There are no players in the Salt Lake squad that were born in Washington State. No players in the Salt Lake squad previously played for the Sounders.

Selections for Last Match
Seattle: Frei, Mears, Torres, Marshall, Joevin Jones, Roldan, Friberg, Gómez, Lodeiro, Fernández, Morris.

Bench: Miller (gk), Scott, Alfaro, Farfan, Kovar, Fisher, Darwin Jones.

Salt Lake: Rimando, Beltran, Glad, Schuler, Phillips, Beckerman, Mulholland, Morales, Martinez, Movsisyan, Plata.

Bench: Lalo Fernandez (gk), Wingert, Olave, Sunny, Stertzer, Garcia, Allen.

Injury List
Seattle –
OUT: Dempsey (irregular heartbeat), Ivanschitz (knee), Remick (concussion).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Evans (calf), Anderson (hamstring), Valdez (back), Marshall (ankle).

Salt Lake –
OUT: Welshman (hip surgery), Maund (broken toe), Attinella (elbow).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Movsisyan (heel).

Discipline
None suspended for this match.
Seattle – Alonso fined next booking.
Salt Lake – Mulholland and Sunday fined next booking.

Fun Fact
Sounders’ goalkeeper, Tyler Miller was originally a 2015 second round draft pick of Seattle. Funny thing happened on the way to the park though. The Woodbury, New Jersey native signed with SVN Zweibrücken of the German Regionalliga before signing with the Sounders. Miller would make 10 appearances in Germany. It must not have worked out though, as he would sign with Sounders FC 2 that July. Glad you found your way back, Tyler.

Special thanks to Brian Haberly. Without you I’m nothing, mate.

FC DALLAS v. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC Pre-Match Analysis

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. The 2016 season draws to a close as we have two matches left to play in the league. Our MLS Cup place is not entirely secure and we must be vigilant as we face FC Dallas in Frisco, Texas this afternoon. Although we have players out this match and must depend on some of our squad depth, this match will be a benchmark undertaking against the second best side in MLS. If we can win away in Frisco, where wins seldom come – surely the sky is the limit for our boys in Green. Hearts full and eyes forward ECS, FCF, and all other member groups of our supportership! Join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

The Good News
Sounders have only lost one in their last 12 matches. Seattle are unbeaten in their last six matches, winning four of them. Seattle currently sit in fourth position in the Western Conference, good enough for an MLS Cup berth. Seattle are now 7th in the league table, a welcome change from earlier in the season when we sat 10 places further down the ladder. Figueroa, the veteran Honduran defender, will miss this match due to accumulated bookings. Until an injury to Ivanschitz and then Alonso losing his discipline, getting sent off, the Sounders were getting the better of Houson in their midweek meeting in Seattle. The Sounders were creating the better of the chances and were holding roughly 70% of the possession. Afterwards the game became sort of a crapshoot with neither managing to finish a chance despite numerous efforts by both sides. The continued development and improvement of Morris is a godsend. Alfaro showed well in his first start at Left Back, playing in at least one dangerous through ball that I can remember. Lodeiro’s work rate was exemplary, and much of what the Sounders accomplished flowed through him. Roldan continues to impress and also to show versatility, ably filling in at Left Back after Alonso’s sending-off.

The Bad News
Dallas have lost only once in their last six matches. Dallas are unbeaten in their last three matches, though they only managed one win during this period. Seattle are only four points clear of the Treecutters who are currently the best of the teams below the qualification line for MLS Cup. Dallas are currently 2nd in the league table, with only Colorado above them. Seattle’s record on the road, though improving, is still a dismal 4-4-8 (W-D-L) overall. FC Dallas have only lost once at home this season over the course of 16 matches. In the league all-time at Dallas, we have only won two of 10 matches. Dempsey, Ivanschitz, Remick, (all injured) and Alonso (suspended) are unavailable for selection for Seattle on Sunday. Despite the good that can be drawn from the midweek fixture, it’s troubling that the Sounders (at full-strength) had trouble breaking down the defence of a team that’s second from bottom in the league. Dallas, in contrast, managed to beat the well-appointed Los Angeles Galaxy in Frisco,TX, 1:0.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Seitz is able and has won an MLS Cup with Salt Lake. Seitz’s only fault might be seen in the fact that he hasn’t yet played 100 pro matches (currently at 77 appearances as of May 2016). Seitz’s understudies, Gonzalez and Herman have 17 appearances between the two of them.

Defence –  Harris, though able (28 goals) and experienced (226 matches played), is getting long in the tooth at 31 years-old. Hedges is able if unspectacular, and in the peak of his career. Zimmerman, at the tender age of 23, has played several times at various youth levels for the United States, but his pro experience is limited at less than 100 matches. Figeroa is out through suspension and his experience will be missed. Look for the Argentinian, Paparatto, to fill in as he is experienced, once winning the MLS Cup with the Treecutters.

Midfield – Acosta is quickly becoming a fixture in the American team. Although his professional experience is limited at under 100 matches, it’s clear Jurgen Klinsmann sees enough in him to award him four United States caps. Gruezo has a lot of experience for a 21 year-old along with 10 caps for Ecuador, and a club championship with Barcelona SC (Ecuador). Barrios scored against the Sounders in our May matchup in the league. He is still relatively young at 25, scores goals, and played a great deal of top division football in Colombia. Diaz has a ton of experience for a 25 year-old mixed with a bit of goalscoring ability, and played 49 times for River Plate in Argentina.

Forward – Urruti started for Dallas in the win against LA. He is reasonably experienced for his age (25), scores a fair amount (nearly a goal every two matches), played nearly 60 times for Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, and won an MLS Cup with the Treecutters in cursed 2015. Akindele, though listed as a midfield player in last weeks lineup, is listed as a forward on the Dallas team roster. His experience as a pro is limited although this is mitigated by his goalscoring ability his 10 caps for Canada, and his MLS 2014 Rookie of the Year award.

Familiar Faces
Urruti and Paparatto were part of the Treecutters MLS Cup winning side in 2015. Mauro Rosales played nearly 90 times for the Sounders from 2011-2013.

Selections for Last Match
Dallas: Seitz, Harris, Zimmerman, Hedges, Figueroa, Acosta, Gruezo, Barrios, Diaz, Akindele, Urruti.

Bench: Gonzalez (gk), Paparatto, Rosales, Ulloa, Hollingshead, Ruiz, Getterson.

Seattle: Frei, Mears, Torres, Marshall, Alfaro, Alonso, Roldan, Gómez, Loderio, Ivanschitz, Morris.

Bench: Miller (gk), Scott, Anderson, Valdez, Sturgis, Friberg, Kovar.

Injury List
Dallas –
OUT: Loyd (concussion).

Seattle –
OUT: Dempsey (irregular heartbeat), Ivanschitz (knee), Remick (concussion).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Fernandez (hamstring), Evans (calf), Anderson (hamstring).

Discipline
Dallas: Figueroa (accumulated bookings).
Hedges out next booking.

Seattle: Alonso (sent off).
Alonso out next booking.

Fun Fact
When Dallas forward, Getterson was loand from his Brazillian club J. Malucelli to São Paulo, the contract was terminated hours after being signed because of remarks Getterson had tweeted four years ago that disparaged SPFC fans and proclaimed himself a supporter of SPFC’s rival SC Corinthians. This incident made him available for loan to FC Dallas.

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC v. HOUSTON DYNAMO Pre-Match Analysis

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. We welcome Houston, or the former Earthquakes, or however you wish to classify them to the friendly confines of Royal Brougham Park for a midweek evening fixture. We have great things to celebrate as we’ve won four on the trot! We have exulted as the team has sorted its way to consistency. Let’s focus our efforts on finishing the season in the sterling form of the last few matches. Let’s rally the Green Family in every corner of our domain and join in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

The Good News
Sounders have won their last four, and have lost just once in their last 11. We have climbed the league table and are now eighth in the league. Our home record against Houston is genius at 5-1-0 (W-D-L), we have never lost to the Houston at Royal Brougham Park. Houston have won only two in their last six, and have dropped their last two matches.

The Bad News
I have no bad news to report on this day, other than that Dempsey is still not well and Evans is out due to being sent off in the last match.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Willis started the last match for Houston. He is 27 years-old and won a US Open Cup with DC United in 2013. None of the Houston goalkeepers possess a ton of experience or honours.

Defence – Domestic product Williams has 187 caps and 18 goals at 26 years-old. Rodriguez has 80 matches for Espanyol in La Liga. He has over 200 pro appearances including one cap for Catalonia – this shows he has heart. Jalil Anibaba we know well, as he once wore our shirt. He has 138 pro appearances with five goals and no senior caps. DaMarcus Beasley is legend. With over 330 pro appearances he has scored 44 goals. He has 123 caps for United States with 17 goals, and has won 14 titles with club and country. Although his pace might not be what it once was, you would be foolish to discount him.

Midfield – Warner has over 160 pro appearances and won a Canadian Championship with Montreal. Clark is a veteran, with 306 pro appearances and 32 goals. he has 34 United States caps, scoring three goals. He has won three titles between club and country in addition to personal honours including being a three-time MLS All-Star. Garcia, the Honduran midfield maestro, has over 200 pro appearances with 26 goals. He has 114 caps for his country. Garcia won eight titles with CD Olimpia. Maidana has over 200 pro appearances with 13 goals. The Argentinian native played 34 times for Spartak Moscow. Alex is 27 years-old, and has nearly 180 appearances with 13 goals. Alex is a native of São Paulo, Brazil who played nearly 90 matches in Swiss football before coming to MLS.

Forward – Manotas at a tender 21 years has only five goals in 32 appearances. The Columbian only played top level football in the MLS.

Bench – Defender Mansally has nearly 140 pro appearances and has played eight times for Gambia. He has won two titles. Horst is a veteran USL player, winning a title with Puerto Rico Islanders. Alexander at the age of 27 has 188 pro appearances. and two United States caps, 0 goals. He has won honours that include a MLS Western Conference Championship 2010, FC Dallas and a MLS League Champions (Supporter’s Shield) 2013, New York Red Donkeys. Bruin has nearly 150 pro appearances with 47 goals. Bruin has two United States caps. Wenger has 128 appearances and 18 goals. He has won a Canadian Championship with Montreal. Escalante has 36 pro appearances with 4 goals. He has played 20 times for CD Olimpia of Honduras.

Familiar Faces
Houston defender #2 Jalil Anibaba played for the Sounders in 2014, making 16 appearances for our boys in Green.

Selections for Last Match
Sounders FC: Frei, Mears, Torres, Marshall, Joevin Jones, Alonso, Gomez, Friberg, Roldan, Fernandez, Morris.

Bench: Miller (gk), Evans, Scott, Valdez, Kovar, Fisher, Anderson.

Houston: Willis, Williams, Rodriguez, Anibaba, Beasley, Warner, Clark, Garcia, Maidana, Alex, Manotas.

Bench: Brown (gk), Mansally, Horst, Alexander, Bruin, Wenger, Escalante.

Injury List
Seattle –
OUT: Dempsey (irregular heartbeat – out for season).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Fernandez (hamstring).

Houston –
OUT: Deric (elbow sprain), Agus (knee sprain).
MATCHDAY DECISION:

Discipline
Seattle: Evans (Sent Off). Alonso out next booking.
Houston: None Suspended. Alex out next booking.

Fun Fact
Did you know that the Houston club are actually a re-packaging of the second coming of the San Jose Earthquakes? You know, the version that had Landon Donovan for a bit and actually won something. The NASL Quakes were 1.0, The San Jose Clash 1.5? (clearly an nearsighted attempt by early MLS to get away from the old NASL brand – which as it turned out, true supporters liked better), Quakes 2.0 – Clash become relevant (see Donovan, and the winning) after their re-re-brand but then sulkily run away to Houston because management didn’t get their shiny, new football ground. Then the club’s ownership re-packaged the side with the classic Russian team name ‘Dynamo’ (WTF?), culminating in the very silly orange and white colours that don’t seem to stand for anything. This was followed in the Bay by the current version of the Quakes that replaced them, v. 3.0, who finally got their better than average Coleman Avenue ground. Quakes v. 3.0 = the Fauxquakes. Revisionist history never wins with this reporter.

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

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. We are in a brilliant run of form. So a trip to the BC Place shouldn’t try us in the least. We have the horses to run this race. Be at ease and be well in your trip north, ECS folk. Let us all join in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

The Good News
Seattle has only lost one match in their last 10., winning six times. Vancouver has one win in their last 11 matches. Our boys have jounced the Treecutters out of their MLS Cup berth! Though we sit level on 41 points, we have a better goal difference. Vancouver have only won five of 15 at home.

The Bad News
Our away record is still abysmal at 3-8-4. Our away record at Vancouver shows only three wins in eight visits. Lodeiro is out through accumulated booking, and thus cannot marshall the side through his playmaking. This leaves Sounders FC at a disadvantage, as we have no playmaker that has the same level of skill as dear auld Nicky. Dempsey out, it hurts, but we want him to just be well.

Know Thine Enemy
This is the last meeting between the two sides in the league. On 19th March we lost to the Whitecaps 1:2 at Royal Brougham Park. Both of Vancouver’s goals coming on Morales penalty kicks. On 17th September we defeated the ‘Caps 1:0 on a Jordan Morris goal.

Goalkeeper – Ousted once led Randers FC to a 2013-14 Europa League berth. His understudy Tornaghi has won many titles as a youth footballer for Inter Milan youth sides.

Defence – Aird is on loan from Glasgow Rangers, a decorated young player with one cap for Canada. Parker is a young New York domestic product. Levis, listed as a midfield player, has 70 pro appearances with 19 goals. Kah, although 35 years-old, has 10 Norway caps and 29 career club goals.

Midfield – Techera the 23 year-old has 96 pro appearances, with 74 of those for River Plate. Jacobsen, a domestic product, has 187 pro appearances. de Jong, listed as a defender has 257 pro appearances. de Jong has played for Canada 47 times and has played 115 times for Roda JC and 67 times for FC Augsburg. Mesquida is a lad with 78 pro appearances.

Forward – Pérez is a mainstay for Panama with 100 caps and 38 goals. Kudo is a veteran of the Japanese league. He has over six titles and 66 goals in less than 200 appearances.

Bench – Defender Edgar has 193 Appearances, 39 caps, 4 goals for Canada. Played for Burnley 99 times. Harvey has a ton of appearances at defence. Midfielder Bolaños has 361 pro appearances and 51 goals. He has 60 caps, 2 goals for Costa Rica and has won a ton of honours in Costa Rica. Morales is a goal poacher with many appearances for Chile.  Giles Barnes, is a Jamaica sniper. So word to the wise as Vancouver may not have played their strongest side against Central FC in the CCL.

Familiar Faces
Whitecaps 2 goalkeeper, Spencer Richey, who played in the CONCACAF Champions League for the Whitecaps FC in a 1:2 victory at Kansas City, played his entire collegiate career at the University of Washington (NCAA), making 71 appearances for the Huskies with 30 clean sheets. He also made eight appearances for Washington Crossfire in the PDL. Richey was born in Seattle, WA. Although Dean will not likely feature in today’s match for Vancouver, Both defender #22 Christian Dean, and midfielder #17 Andrew Jacobsen (both from Palo Alto, CA) were former standouts for the California Golden Bears. Defender, Jordan Harvey, from Mission Viejo, CA, played 12 matches on loan at Sounders FC, scoring one goal in 2006.

Selections for Last Match
Vancouver (CCL): Tornaghi, Aird, Waston, Parker, Levis, Techera, Jacobsen, de Jong, Mezquida, Pérez, Kudo.

Bench: Carducci (gk), Seiler, McKendry, Bustos, Davies, Greig, Hurtado.

Seattle (MLS): Frei, Mears, Torres, Marshall, Joevin Jones, Roldan, Alonso, Fernández, Lodeiro, Ivanschitz, Morris.

Bench: Miller (gk), Scott, Fisher, Valdez, Friberg, Gómez, Anderson.

Injury List
Vancouver –
OUT: Dean (meniscus tear), Manneh (foot surgery), Teibert (hamstring).

Seattle –
OUT: Dempsey (irregular heartbeat, out for season).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Evans (calf), Friberg (ankle), Kovar (broken clavicle).

Discipline
Vancouver: Waston (Sent Off).
Seattle: Lodeiro (Booking accumulation). Joevin Jones and Alonso out next booking.

Fun Fact
Victoria, B.C. is actually the retirement community of Canada. Much like Florida is in our country.