The Seattle Sounders have a chance to further cement their lead in MLS’s Western Conference against FC Dallas tonight. Coming off back-to-back losses, FC Dallas looks to be preparing for their annual summer swoon. But don’t dismiss Dallas’s staying power in 2014. Yes they are mighty beat-up now, but they quality up and down the roster and a top-tier coach. The Hoops have the right foundation to weather the rougher parts, injuries and suspension, of the long MLS season. FC Dallas is still goal dangerous, second only to Seattle on goals scored. Surprisingly, Dallas still sits at third in the Supporter’s Shield race, as the Hoops stole a lot of points early. Beating the Hoops tonight, keeps distance between these two potential playoff teams.
The exciting question is, who’s going to start? With the World Cup looming, Adrian Hanauer, and any MLS general manager worth their salt, built his roster with an eye towards depth. Coach Sigi Schmid has probably toyed around with potential lineups as he eats, sleeps and… everything else. Picture Sigi pushing his grocery cart at QFC somewhere in the cereal aisle. As he reaches for a box of Raisin Bran, he thinks, Aha! Evans can play left back! Not to doubt our coach’s mental agility, but I cannot believe that Sigi had such an inspired notion during the heat of the game. Swapping the surprisingly injured Dylan Remick for Evans, who had started at right mid, to sub on attacking Marco Pappa was ingenious. Sigi is a coach par-excellence and has mulled over a myriad of situations so that when he gets caught in a pickle, he doesn’t get caught flat-footed.
Here’s my best guess for tonight:
Frei, Scott, Marshall, Anibaba, Yedlin, Pappa, Ozzie, Pineda, Neagle, Clint, Oba
Starting with the back: Zach Scott got his feet under him Saturday and I think that’s proof he starts at left back. Djimi Traore isn’t getting any younger, though he played like a gambling colt against the Union, so he sits. Jalil Anibaba needs more minutes on the backline as he’s gonna be a regular back there real soon. Great Wall of Sodo and Yedlinny hold their own.
The Middlemen: Benching Brad Evans was a tough choice. I am nervous about him starting tonight, as he just played his first full match back from injury. I doubt you trot him out again on only three days rest, but I am very comfortable with coming in for a hefty amount of minutes, maybe the whole second half. He could give Gonzalo Pineda, north of 30 and returning from a nasty sports hernia, a midweek breather. Marco Pappa’s quality has been key to the uptempo Seattle attack, plus he’s young and fresh. It is Lamar Neagle’s birthday, so I bet 253 gets some lineup love tonight. Ozzie is Ozzie.
The strike force: I see no reason why these consummate professionals can’t make it rain three days in nine.
Enjoy the sunshine and the beautiful game Seattle!
Bold prediction: I just don’t see the run ending tonight. Sounders look shaky, but hold on to win 2-1.
P.s. If you haven’t seen this updating MLS table, check it out. It is a cool link.
P.p.s. I couldn’t resist (click to embiggen):