The Seattle Sounders look to create distance atop the MLS Western Conference when they host FC Dallas Wednesday night. I am excited for Seattle’s first midweek game, it means more Sounders! Unfortunately for the players, it also means three games in nine days. Some guys, due to age or recent injury history, cannot play in all three games: Djimi Traore, Gonzalo Pineda, Brad Evans, and Leo Gonzalez to name a few. Some combination of players will need to be rested, as coach Sigi Schmid may really juggle the lineup.
We have talked about depth and roster quality all season, now we’ll see it tested. Especially with the recent injury to left back Dylan Remick. Coach Schmid reported Monday, that Remick’s x-rays came back negative. But he gave no indication as to the duration of Remick’s absence. With Leo Gonzalez’s injury, we don’t have too many options at that position. Brad Evans was an inspired replacement on Saturday, but I’d prefer him more involved in the midfield. Of course, Zach Scott got minutes late against Philadelphia. I assume Sigi wanted Scott to get his legs under him for this stretch of games. I love Zach Scott, he is a culture carrier in the lockerroom, and his presence is almost of totemic importance. But I don’t like seeing him in the starting eleven.
We have to get used to the fact that the Seattle Sounders will field no “ideal” starting eleven in 2014. Instead the team is a rotating band of marauding footballers cast in different lineup for different situations. Maybe the idea of a locked-in “starting” 11 is a little too limiting. Seattle is playing a very fluid game, it makes sense the roster is equally fluid. Coach Schmid can prepare for each game, league, CONCACAF, etc., with a multiplicity of roster options.
Game preparation is affected by travel and player fatigue. In an interview Monday, Sigi said both teams are equally fatigued. I disagree. Dallas is a weak little kitten right now. After watching most of NYRB-FCD on Sunday, you just gotta think the Sounders have it. Dallas is hurt and depleted, and had to play at ten men, again. Their players are wiped, and have one less day of rest than Seattle. They’ll have some tired, tired legs on that flight from DFW to SeaTac. A lot of the fringe variables sure point towards a Seattle victory.
Is Dallas so depleted that the Sounders can field an Open Cup-like lineup of Andy Rose and Company, still nab all three points? Should Seattle save their big guns for the weekend game against Eastern Conference-leading New England? It depends on which match Sigi is putting at priority. Wednesday’s match against Dallas is a six-pointer in the West, so winning gives Seattle a good opportunity to create distance at the top of the table. If we deploy all the starters against FCD, are we all but conceding the weekend’s game? I’d be worried, but the Sounders have been taking care of business lately.
The Sounders get it done. On the season they’ve only “dropped” a potential eight points (six against TFC and the Crew, and two against PTFC). Eight points off perfect? That’s the same number of points as Portland has earned all year! Talking about the West, Congrats to stinky Portland who finally won, doing so in dramatic fashion. Too bad it took them the until May to mint their first W. RSL defied probability by coming back from two down in the 90th minute and beating Chicago away. It’s getting pretty mucked up atop the Western Conference. That’s why Seattle needs to do the task at hand and keep a wounded Dallas down.