SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC v. NEW YORK RED DONKEYS Pre-Match Analysis

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. At long last it’s time for our season opener. The potential victims: New York Red Donkeys. Why do I call them this? Because it’s impossible to take a sporting club seriously when they take their club’s name from a beverage. Welcome to Seattle, Red Donkeys. You’d better strap in for a rough ride at Royal Brougham Park.

alfaro
With Roman Torres suspended, young Tony Alfaro may see his first appearance in the team this season

The Good News
Although we could only manage a draw at the Rue Sherbrooke last weekend, you’d have to be encouraged by a road draw against a playoff team from last season. Young academy graduate Henry Wingo performed well in his debut. Will Bruin’s late equaliser shows me that we’re at least one striker deep after Dempsey and Morris. Oniel Fisher’s return to fitness makes it so Svensson no longer need fill in for him at right-back (in theory). Young Jordy Delem, must have impressed last week in training to earn a place on the substitute’s bench. Considering all of the above, it’s possible that the Sounders are not as short on depth as I had thought. This can only be good news. Although the Sounders’ recent form is relatively poor, we statistically play well against the Red Donkeys when they venture into Seattle with a home record of  3-1-1 all-time. The conditions promise to be mild and (for here) dry. New York beat Colorado last week 1:0 with their only tally coming from an Eric Miller own-goal. This tells me that the Red Donkeys are, along with our Sounders, struggling to score goals. It is encouraging that the Sounders have been creating plenty of chances at goal. Should they finish a few of them today, our boys in Green may walk away with the three points.

The Bad News
The Sounders first two results in the league have seen them concede early goals to fall behind 2:0. A team such as the Red Donkeys will punish these types of errors with goals – every time. Should they build a lead of two or more goals early, the Red Donkeys have enough quality in the team to shut up shop and hammer out a win on the road. Although they didn’t finish out the pre-season well, New York is unbeaten having won their first two matches in the league. This includes a 2:1 win over newcomers Atlanta United. United have gone on to score 10 goals whilst winning their next two matches. Granted, their opponents were fellow newcomers Minnesota United and Chicago (who didn’t finish that well in the league last season), but it’s clear that in defeating Atlanta United, the Red Donkeys dispatched a team of some quality. With Brad Evans still out we lose not only the club’s spiritual leader but one of the most experienced defenders in the squad. With Kovar still recovering from surgery, we lose a clever winger who has shown promise in his limited appearances. Sounders are winless in their last five matches. The second half improvement against both Houston and Montréal is encouraging, but we played poorly in the first halves of both matches. Should that trend continue today, we are likely to lose – rather badly. Another casualty of our game in Quebec, is defender Roman Torres. Apparently he temporarily lost his mind and kicked Ambroise Oyongo in the leg after the play had ended. This will cost Torres a one match ban. Rumblings out of Seattle suggest that Svensson may be asked to fill in at centre-half in Torres’ place. If it comes to that, I really hope that ends well. Alfaro is the lone cover we have at centre-half. Andrew Wiebe of MLS.com predicts that Alfaro will stand-in for Torres for this afternoon’s match. The all-time series between the sides is level at 3-4-3. over those 10 matches we have scored 15 goals against New York, but also conceded 15 goals.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Luis Robles is a veteran goalkeeper who brings meaningful experience from overseas (nearly 50 matches of football in the meat-grinder that is the German Bundesliga), and has appeared over 140 times for New York.

Defence – Lawrence, although young at 24, has 34 caps for Jamaica. Long, has only played two matches of first-team MLS football. If there is a weak link, it is probably him. Perrinelle is an experienced French national. Developed by the SC Amiens youth system, Perrinelle has over 230 appearances in French football. Zizzo is a product of the very strong UCLA programme. Zizzo is an experienced defender having played  over 50 matches of German football, and over 130 matches in MLS.

Midfield – Felipe is one of several prominent scoring threats in the New York midfield. The Brazilian national played 75 matches in Swiss football before making a name for himself at first Montréal and then New York. Davis is another youngster at 24. He has 37 matches in the New York first team. Royer, 26, is an experienced Austrian national. He has six caps for Austria and has played over 180 times in his European career spent in Austria, Germany, and Denmark. The team captain, Kljestan has reprised his MLS career after a five-year, successful run (over 130 matches) at RSC Anderlecht in Belgium. Kljestan has 52 caps and six goals for United States. He is a constant danger man, likely to score, or set up a goal in any match he plays in.

Forward – Wright-Phillips has a wealth of English league experience (including time at Manchester City and Southampton) having played over 270 matches there. For New York, he has scored nearly 70 goals in over a hundred appearances. He is easily the most dangerous weapon in the New York side. Etienne is a young, and relatively inexperienced player. He has only played three matches in the New York first team, yet is rated highly enough to earn 4 caps and 1 goal for Haiti.

Familiar Faces
New York defender, Aaron Long played 27 times for Seattle Sounders Reserves in 2015.

Selections for Last Match
Sounders FC: Frei, Svensson, Torres, Marshall, Jones, Alonso, Roldan, Lodeiro, Dempsey, Shipp, Morris.

Bench: Miller (gk), Bruin, Fisher, Alfaro, Fernández, Delem, Wingo.

New York: Robles, Zizzo, Perrinelle, Long, Lawrence, Felipe, Davis, Royer, Kljestan, Etienne, Wright-Phillips.

Bench: Meara (gk), Collin, Murillo, Adams, Grella, Gulbrandsen, Muyl.

Injury List
Seattle –
OUT: Evans (calf), Kovar (surgery).
MATCHDAY DECISION: none

New York –
OUT: Lade (ACL), Baah (leg), Veron (hamstring).
MATCHDAY DECISION: none

Discipline
Seattle: Torres (violent conduct).
New York: none

Fun Fact

The fun fact so nice, I had to print it twice:

“In 2010, the Red Bulls refused to pay a $1.4 million property tax levy to the city of Harrison, claiming that the stadium was exempt from paying taxes.[32] The team also refused to pay a $1.3 million for 2011. While the team did eventually pay the back taxes, it subsequently filed a lawsuit to have the payments reimbursed by the city, claiming the stadium was exempt from local taxes.” – USA Today / Associated Press.  What a swell bunch of guys.

MONTRÉAL IMPACT v. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC – Pre-Match Analysis

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. Sounders FC continue their road trip, this time venturing to the Stade Olimpique, Montréal, Quebec, Canada, for a Saturday night showdown with les Impact. Seattle will be trying to find their sea legs, having not won a match since the beginning of pre-season (0-2-4), whilst Montréal, off to 
an uneven start (2-1-3 including pre-season), will be looking to establish some consistency and a bit of redemption for their defeat last weekend at
 Coleman Avenue.

shipptraining
Harry Shipp could make his Sounders FC debut today in his first return to the Stade Olympique since his December 2016 move to Royal Brougham Park

The Good News
Dempsey’s goal last weekend was an encouraging sign, as well as the side’s half-time resurgence after having conceded two first half goals to Houston. Outside of Evans, the starting eleven are healthy. Oneil Fisher, who has been out with a concussion, may be fit enough to start at right-back. The return of the Jamaican international would give the Sounders some pace and skill overlapping from the right side. Montréal hasn’t been able to muster a win in their last three matches. It’s not uncommon for our Sounders to have a slow start or hit a lengthy rough patch of form. If the second half was any indication last week, the setback at Dowling Street could end up being a motivator for the out of form Sounders. In the midfield and up front, Montréal is an older group. This may be of some advantage to us after the hour mark of the match.

The Bad News
We’ve failed to win in our last six matches. We were outshot 14:2 in the first half last weekend by Houston. Houston, the second worst side in all of MLS last season, was able to defeat us 2:1. Evans seems unlikely to return to fitness from his sticky calf problem for another six weeks at the club’s earliest estimates. Evans’ experience and leadership are sorely missed. Provided Oneil Fisher returns to fitness, our best options off the bench for the back four will be Alfaro and the Cameroonian new boy Tolo. Should Fisher not return this Saturday, Svensson will be the likely candidate to again deputise for him on the right side of defence. Kovar is still recovering from groin surgery and will also be out, thinning out a midfield already short on depth, leaving new boys Shipp and Svensson as the best midfield options off the bench. The all-time statistics slightly favour Montréal overall (2-0-3), but we’ve only managed one victory in Quebec in three attempts (1-0-2). Expect a physical test from Montréal as they attempt to recover from their own wavering form. It’s likely to be windy (winds up to 9mph) and cold (night temperature expected to be 1ºF), and the surface is synthetic, so we may not see the best football from either side, and the likelihood of injury will be higher than normal.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Burch is the likely starter. He’s played over 150 times at the pro level, with no experience outside North America. The American is solid if unspectacular in goal. Options off the bench are an old pro that used to play for UC Berkeley in Kronberg and a young goalkeeper that recently earned his first cap for Canada in Crépeau.

Defence – Oyongo, Ciman, Cabrera, and Duvall are the likely starting back four. With former SC Bastia man Camara suspended, Ciman (31) becomes the old man in the group. Ciman has played nearly 350 matches of professional football, many of them for Belgian clubs that include Standard Liège and Club Brugge, and was capped 16 times for Belgium. Camara’s replacement, Duvall, is new to the side from New York RB. With less than 100 matches pro, he is the weakest link in this group. Cabrera, though young and relatively inexperienced, was a product of CA River Plate’s academy system. Oyongo has played nearly 200 times and has been capped 29 times by Cameroon. Options off the bench feature inexperienced players, though Lefèvre was a product of Montpelier’s academy in France.

Midfield – Bernardello, Bernier, and Donadel are expected to start. Bernier is an old pro at 37, with nearly 300 matches of experience in Germany, Denmark, and Norway. It’s his second stint with Montréal. Bernardello, at 30, is a veteran of Spanish and Argentinian football with nearly 300 matches of experience. Donadel, at 33, has played over 300 times as a pro, with 200 of those appearances for Fiorentina. Options off the bench feature untested youth.

Forward – Piatti, listed as a midfield player lining up as more of a winger, has played nearly 350 times as a pro, mostly in Argentina, though he played a season in Italy at Lecce. Piatti is a legitimate scoring threat in the side. Mancosu, at 32 years, is  a veteran of Italian football. He is a top scoring threat. Oduro, at 31 years, is Ghanian by birth, but holds a United States Green Card. He is a domestic MLS product, having played nearly 330 times as an MLS pro. A proven goal scorer, Oduro has hit just short of 80 goals in his career.

Familiar Faces
None.

Selections for Last Match
Montréal: Bush, Duvall, Camara, Ciman, Oyongo, Oduro, Bernier, Donadel, Bernardello, Piatti, Mancosu.

Bench: Crépeau (gk), Mallace, Kyle Fisher, DePuy, Lovitz, Beland-Goyette, Tabla.

Seattle: Frei, Svensson, Torres, Marshall, Jones, Alonso, Roldan, Fernández, Dempsey, Lodeiro, Morris.

Bench: Miller (gk), Wingo, Oneil Fisher, Alfaro, Bruin, Mathers, Shipp.

Injury List
Montréal –
OUT: None.
MATCHDAY DECISION: Romero (hamstring).

Seattle –
OUT: Evans (calf), Kovar (groin surgery).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Fisher (concussion).

Discipline
Montréal: Camara (sent off).
Seattle: None suspended.

Fun Fact
Montreal Impact’s November 2016 home MLS Cup match against Toronto FC was “…delayed about 40 minutes after officials found the lines of the 18-yard box at one end of Olympic Stadium — which accommodates a larger crowd than the club’s usual Stade Saputo — had been painted around two yards too close to the goal. They had to be cleared and re-marked, meaning the match — scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m. ET — did not get under way until just after 8:40 p.m. local time.” [Sourced from ESPN.com]

HOUSTON DYNAMO v. SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC Pre-Match Analysis

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. The Sounders FC travel to Dowling Street, Houston, Texas, to face Houston Dynamo for their initial test of the 2017 MLS fixture list. We will be competing in the US Open Cup starting with the 4th round in June, in the CONCACAF Champions League starting in August, the league, and if we qualify, the MLS Cup again. So four competitions, squad depth and management will be key.

2016mlscupwin
One last look at our moment of triumph and then on to the new season

The Good News
Dempsey is back, which should take some of the scoring load off of second year pro Jordan Morris. We added Will Bruin and Harry Shipp in the offseason, which should provide some reliable goalscoring and veteran experience. Although we still have several veteran players, we have overall become younger throughout the squad. Houston were the second worst team in 2016, perhaps they haven’t made any significant improvements.

The Bad News
The offseason lasted five long months that saw three of last seasons players retire (Gomez, Scott, and Farfan), and another 11 (including three or four starters) from last year’s squad waived. If you’re squad size is between 23-25 players and you drop 14, it seems like a squad re-build. One wonders if this type of yearly upheaval is a necessity forced by the utterly insane salary cap structure of MLS? Or is it indefensible restructuring for the sake of itself? Of the starting eleven that lined up against Toronto in the Cup final, three (Valdez, Friberg, and Mears) are gone. The Sounders’ five pre-season friendlies contained no nary a win and saw us finish last in the four team Carolina Challenge Cup. Is that kind of a red flag to start the season? We were only able to manage a draw against hosts, Charleston Battery. Having said that, we lost all of our Desert Friendlies last pre-season and hoisted the MLS Cup that December. Of the 11 waived players, it looks like nine of them had no trouble finding another club – which begs the question: Why didn’t the Sounders retain them? Either Sounders’ GM, Garth Lagerwey is a genius setting up the firmament of the club’s future, or he has us in essentially the same position we were in after the last offseason when we lost over half the squad. Will Brad Evans or O’Neil Fisher be able to replace the experience of Tyrone Mears at Right Back? Is Tony Alfaro an option? We have six midfielders capable of earning a regular place in the first team. Will Roldan and Fernández lose their places to Svensson and Shipp? We’ll have to wait and see. After Dempsey and Morris, there isn’t a lot of depth at striker. Bruin and a 21 year-old kid with five pro appearances are the understudies. Evans and Kovar are both injured to start the season. Aside from any of this, we generally don’t fare well in our trips to Dowling Street. We have never won there. In seven attempts we have drawn four times and lost the other three. We have scored seven goals all time at Houston, conceding 12. The Creamsicles didn’t seem to have the same pre-season problems winning their matches against NY Red Donkeys and New England, I’m guessing that’s a bad thing for us. Of the 19 players to score a goal for the Sounders against Houston, only three of those remain with the club (Fernández, Marshall, and Evans), and only two are available for tonight’s match (Evans is expected to not dress due to his calf problem).

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – I wouldn’t describe any of the goalkeepers for Houston as “top-shelf”. Between Deric, Brown, and Willis they only have 107 MLS appearances between them. Willis won a US Open Cup with DC United in 2013. Otherwise not much to write about.

Defender – A generally aging, but experienced group. Highlighted by the presence of  US National Team hero, DaMarcus Beasley.

Midfield – Two skillful but old men, Clark and Boniek Garcia, complimented by Alex, Alexander, and Cabezas (were he not suspended). Pretty light on scoring punch.

Forward – Erick Torres, Wenger, Elis, and Quioto are legitimate scoring threats. Vicente Sanchez brings experience but could be held back by his 37 year-old body. The rest of the Houston striker crop are young prospects.

Familiar Faces
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.

Selections for Last Match
The last matches for both clubs were friendlies. No lineups were available at press.

Injury List
Houston –
OUT: None
MATCHDAY DECISION: Willis (knee)

Seattle –
OUT: Evans (calf), Kovar (surgery)
MATCHDAY DECISION: Fisher (concussion), Morris (ankle), Frei (ankle), Alonso (knee)

Discipline
Houston – Cabezas (Sent Off in his last match for Independiente Medellin with a second booking in the match, MLS is honouring the Columbian league’s ruling as per Article 12 of the FIFA regulations)

Fun Fact
New boy Gustav Svensson has never scored a goal for any club other than during his over 150 appearances for IFK Göteburg,in Sweden.

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.