Tag Archive | "Steve Zakuani"

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Seattle Sounders Score Early, Portland Timbers Score Late

Posted on 16 March 2013 by Kyle Alm

As Seattle Sounders and Portland timbers rekindle their decades old rivalry for 2013 there was much anticipation in CenturyLink for Obafemi Martins arrival. As much vitriol and familiarity between Seattle and Portland, both clubs are without key contributors from their past and are somewhat unknown to each other. Portland has undergone the most dramatic changes with a new coach and new style of play that Caleb Porter brought with him from University of Akron.

Sounders were coming off of their historic win on Tuesday over Tigres in the CCL and were looking for their first points after dropping their home opener in MLS to Montreal Impact. Seattle would be the first road match for Portland, who has also lost to Montreal but also managed to get a point against New York Red Bulls in a dramatic 3-3 comeback.

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Both sides were looking for their first win against their biggest rival. The stage was set once again for these old adversaries to take center stage during rivalry weekend.

Sounders were able to score first in the 13th minute after Steve Zakuani was able to capitalize on a Timbers turnover when he took the ball to the left edge of the penalty area and found Eddie Johnson who finished the cross with his right foot on the first touch. Donovan Ricketts was unable to alter the path of the ball and Johnson didn’t have to do much to finish and went and pointed up to the Timbers Army section in the upper bowl of CenturyLink Field.

There were no changes for either side at halftime. The first half was dominated by Sounders in terms of possession, Portland took more shots, but none of were anything that would make Sounders GK Michael Gspurning nervous, he only had one save to make during the entire match. Timbers did hit the crossbar on a Diego Valeri set-piece from distance in the 49th minute, but that was as close as they had come all match.

Obafemi Martins made his debut for Sounders in the 70th minute coming on for Sammy Ochoa, who had not impacted the match positively for Sounders. Martins received a large cheer, got a couple of touches, suffered a couple of fouls, and looked like a player who had never played with his new teammates before. With Martins international duty coming up it will be difficult for Sounders to assimilate their newest player with his teammates, but you can tell that he has the ability to be an impact player on Sounders.

In the 90th minute Rodney Wallace let all of the air out of the building with a free header on a second ball into the box after a corner. Wallace lost Hurtado on his run and was able to keep his header close to the post and away from Gspurning who collected the ball out of his net, slammed it into the turf and continued to express his displeasure at conceding a late goal. Hurtado also was demonstrably upset at Alex Caskey and Osvaldo Alonso, presumably for not getting any pressure on Andrew Baptiste before he crossed the ball in.

Coach Sigi Schmid was disappointed in conceding a late goal, but offered very little in way of explanation other than Wallace did make a long run from the wing which confused the back-line marking. Sounders were lucky that they were able to hold on to a point looking back at the match, Timbers had a good argument for a penalty kick award against Hurtado when he scissor tackled Ryan Johnson in the box. Timbers also had the previously mentioned set piece off the crossbar that would have turned Rodney Wallace’s header into a winner.

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RSL Hold Sounders 0-0 in Seattle

Posted on 03 November 2012 by Kyle Alm

Real Salt Lake all but wrapped up the #2 seed in the Western Conference when they held Sounders to a 0-0. Zach Scott had been sent off early in the match and Sounders were able to hold off for a 0-0 draw. Salt Lake and Seattle have had a burgeoning rivalry that is comparable to either of their Cascadia Cup opponents, the largest difference being that RSL and Seattle have played more meaningful matches against each other rather than geographic proximity.

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Michael Gspurning came off of his line to make a sliding tackle on Ned Grabavoy right at the edge of the box on a through ball from midfield. Nick Rimando was also active early making a save on Brad Evans, after the Sounders midfielder made a clever timed run to get in behind the defense. Rimando came up big twice to keep his sheet clean in the 33rd minute on consecutive. Sammy Ochoa worked very hard to get his header, pushing on Chris Wingert with both hands to get into position. Ochoa’s header was saved for a corner that Jhon Kennedy Hurtado would put on frame with a ducking header was met by a more spectacular save by Rimando than the last moments before.

Jeff Parke was issued a yellow card for a foul on Espindola right before the halftime whistle blew. Espindola would not return for the second half with a hamstring injury.

Sammy Ochoa, filling in for Eddie Johnson as Fredy Montero’s strike partner, had his best opportunity to score on a cross from Brad Evans in the 57th minute. Ochoa sent the ball sailing, and Sigi Schmid called immediately for his replacement, David Estrada.

The most dramatic moment of the match came in the 67th minute when Christiam Tiffert and Nick Rimando collided in the penalty area when Rimando was coming out for the ball. The RSL goalkeeper covered his face and kicking at the ground in agony. The match would be suspended for no less than 8 minutes while Rimando received treatment to stop the bleeding above his eye. There was a confused group of fans who were heckling Rimando during this time although he was clearly receiving necessary treatment.

Sounders attack in the second half was predictable, speculative, and ultimately impotent against Nick Rimando, who continued his brilliant performance despite his injury and swelling around his eye. Rimando read and picked out crosses and continued to show excellent reflexes and reaction saves. In addition to David Estrada, Mario Martinez (82nd minute for Tiffert) and Steve Zakuani (90th+4 for Mauro Rosales) were brought on to bolster the Sounders attack, with little to no effect.

RSL did not show much offensive firepower either, and Gspurning didn’t have nearly as much to do as his counterpart. Alvaro Saborio, recently returned from injury, did not appear himself tonight. Kyle Beckerman did not appear in the stat sheet much, but was effective in controlling the midfield and distributing the ball to keep his side organized. Javier Morales also had a relatively quiet night.

There was some extra time scuffling involving Osvaldo Alonso and some RSL players and even some staff from the look of things. If this is a burgeoning rivalry it blossomed tonight, the return leg, with so much at stake should be quite an exciting affair. Eddie Johnson should be back from his hamstring injury. Fabian Espindola’s hamstring is a question mark as of post-match, his availability is unknown at this point.

The way these two sides have played against each other, and other teams, have not yielded many goals for either side. Although RSL have shown several times that they can come to Seattle and get results, the advantage of playing at home for the return leg, and potential shootout, is clear.

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Wondo Keeps Quakes Top of Table

Posted on 23 September 2012 by Kyle Alm

Seattle Sounders slim chance at winning the Supporter’s Shield was crushed Saturday evening in Seattle when the San Jose Earthquakes put on an offensive display that shows that they truly belong at the top of the MLS Table. The two sides have been building some bad blood recently, a couple of close matches, a couple of physical altercations, the same mutually exclusive prize in an unbalanced schedule and you’ve got a budding rivalry.

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It didn’t take long for the Quakes to get started, in the 2nd minute Simon Dawkins was given space to shoot from a yard beyond the penalty box semi-circle. It was a horrible start for Sounders at home, all Michael Gspurning could do was watch it sail into the top corner and voice his displeasure at his defenders. Although it is not uncommon to give a midfield player space that far away from goal, it was too much space and the shot was not challenged by a defender.

Sammy Ochoa starting in place of Eddie Johnson, suspended for yellow card accumulation, was given his first real opportunity to start in MLS action and made an important contribution when he was able to beat his defender with a flick and then crossed the ball, Fredy Montero tried for it near the middle of the goal, but it was just out of reach. Steve Zakuani was ready for the ball when the cross went past the Colombian, and finished unmarked to draw the Sounders level.

San Jose Earthquakes were the dominant team in the first half, they were able to pass the ball with more ease, get forward in dangerous positions, create crosses, and get shots on goal. Their winner came on a corner kick that was conceded by Adam Johansson & Michael Gspurning in an awkward fashion. The corner kick went over the goal frame and was sent back in by Victor Bernardez and flicked past Gspurning by Chris Wondolowski, who stayed on pace with Roy Lassiter’s record 27 goals from 1996. Wondowlowski has 22 goals now with 4 matches left in the season to catch Lassiter.

Zakuani, who had been the hero moments earlier, was caught on the back post after the ball had been played out initially, he stayed on the post for the second cross into the box by Bernardez. A player can’t be offside on a corner because of where the ball is on the end line, when a player is stuck on the post defending you can’t be offside then either. Wondowlowski would have been offside had Zakuani stepped off the post, Ianni gave space, and tried to close when he realized he was onside, but it was too late.

As much as San Jose came out screaming in the first half, their enthusiasm was considereably muted in the second half. Scoring opportunities, crosses, were all down in the second half as the Quakes looked to defend their lead in Seattle. Sounders looked better and did have a better second half, but when the opposing team is bunkering down to defend a lead you can’t help but look better than you did before.

Sounders only managed one shot on target the entire night, Zakuani’s goal. Jon Busch didn’t have a single save.

Usually rivalries are give and take, but it’s been all San Jose this season and the Sounders have been taking it. San Jose had always been a good offensive side that defended poorly, Frank Yallop has gotten his side organized and kept the goal differential on the positive side by 26 goals after tonight’s match. Sounders fans would probably start a rivalry with any team that Steven Lenhart is on.

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ASN’s MLS Best XI, Week Sixteen

Posted on 27 July 2010 by Breton Bonnette

Week Sixteen (or Week Seventeen, depending how you look at it) confirmed the Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan still deserve their title as best duo in the league but, as it was, the Galaxy looked relatively vulnerable. It was Buddle and Donovan who bailed them out late vs. San Jose. Kasey Keller showed he still has it at 40 and can come back from a bad match to make sure his Sounders gets the three points they need. It was another Sounder, however, that stole the show and deservedly won this week’s ASN Player of the Week honors.

GK: Kasey Keller, Seattle, 8.5

Keller didn’t have the best of weeks last week but he came out strong once again vs. Colorado to ensure that the Sounders would walk away with the three points at home. The Sounders needed all the help they could get in goal as the Rapids pressured – namely Omar Cummings – all second half. At 40, Keller can still make those highlight reel saves and the Rapids found that out the hard way.

DEF: Jamison Olave, Real Salt Lake, 7.5

Olave is the best defender in Major League Soccer, hands down. The Colombian has put to rest a couple early season aggression issues to become the most complete and consistent defender in this league. Better discipline leads to better results for Olave and as long as he remembers that, the RSL backline should be able to lock down even the best offense in Major League Soccer.

DEF: Leonardo, Los Angeles, 7

Bruce Arena heaped praise on the young Brazilian after their 2-2 tie with San Jose but many Galaxy fans are wondering why the goals against seem to pile up when he’s in the back. Arena is, however, the manager of Major League Soccer’s best team right now so we’ll have to give him the benefit of the doubt. Leonardo was lively and solid in a rare start but there is still plenty to be worked on.

DEF: Andy Iro, Columbus, 7.5

Iro’s goal vs. Houston only highlighted the fact that he has a solid defensive game vs. Houston, keeping Cam Weaver and Brian Ching at bay. Iro, who has had his ups and downs this season, seems to be on the upswing again as the younger Crew backline were able to effectively snuff out and fight the Dynamo offense had.

MID: Bobby Convey, San Jose, 8

Convey is full of confidence these days. Remarks about the Galaxy being overrated and how he was snubbed for the All-Star game aside, however, he has every right to be confident. His play vs. Los Angeles set the tone for San Jose and allowed them to grab a vital point on the road. It should have been three but Convey played his part, scoring the opening goal in the early minutes and threatening the left flank all match.

MID: Landon Donovan, Los Angeles, 8

Donovan is the best player in this league and he shows it week in and week out. The veteran hasn’t lost a step since returning from the World Cup and all fatigue aside, he’s ready to lead the Galaxy to the MLS Cup. Allowed us all a remix of the Algeria goal after scoring the equalizer in the last seconds of their 2-2 draw with San Jose.

MID: Steve Zakuani, Seattle – 8.5, ASN’s PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Easily the most dangerous man on the pitch for Seattle in their 2-1 win over Colorado. If this were still his rookie year, one of the two opportunities he put away probably would have trickled wide or missed the frame completely. Zakuani seizes his chances this season and his presence on the field actually makes Sounders fan forget – just a little bit – about the impending departure of Freddie Ljungberg.

MID: Guillermo Barros Schelloto, Columbus, 8

Schelloto is simply a generator. The Crew’s offense feeds off him and it showed in their dismantling of a generally stingy Houston defense. Expect a late surge from this team as Schelloto, Gaven, and Renteria all seem to be firing on all cylinders for the last half of the season stretch.

FWD: Maicon Santos, Toronto FC, 7.5

Maicon could prove to be a nice partner up top with Mista once he is able to play day in, day out. The strong Brazilian exerted a lot of pressure early on but when Mista entered the game, the afterburners seemed to turn on. He was more impressive than his near post drive that opened the scoring causing the FC Dallas defense fits of trouble.

FWD: Edson Buddle, Los Angeles, 8

What more can you say about Mr. Buddle? He gets several chances per game and puts at least one of them away. His positioning this season has been remarkable. Either that or his presence forces Galaxy distributors to find him each and every time. Buddle continues to add to his league-leading total of 12.

FWD: Emilio Renteria, Columbus, 7.5

An absolute handful vs. Houston, Renteria has now scored four in his last four starts for the surging Crew. It’s his tenacity up front that has Crew fans excited about his continued inclusion in the starting XI. He is opportunistic and poacher by trade which pressures defenders into making mistakes. It also bodes well for the large amount of Schelloto assists that go unfinished. This is Renteria’s second consecutive inclusion in the ASN Best XI.

Archives:

Week 15, Best XI

Week 14, Best XI

Week 13, Best XI

Week 12, Best XI

Week 11, Best XI

Week 10, Best XI

Week 9, Best XI

Week 8, Best XI

Week 7, Best XI

Week 6, Best XI

Week 5, Best XI

Week 4, Best XI

Week 3, Best XI

Week 2, Best XI

Week 1, Best XI

 

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Everything positive as Sounders put down the Revolution

Posted on 06 June 2010 by nschiffler

Where was this kind of play all season?

Inspired by an early goal by Leo Gonzalez, his first in MLS, the Seattle Sounders broke out of their offensive slump and routed the New England Revolution 3-0 at Qwest Field.

Steve Zakuani and Fredy Montero added first-half goals as the Sounders controlled the run of play for 90 minutes, giving the home side a huge win that they desperately needed to get themselves back in the pack of playoff contending teams.

“We want to make this a tough place for teams to play,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I think we made it that way tonight, so it does a lot for our spirit, it does a lot for our confidence, it just does an awful lot for the morale. And it was good to win and score some fine goals.”

It didn’t take long for Seattle to get on the scoresheet with one of those fine goals. Montero held up with the ball well, allowing Gonzalez to arrive, and the Costa Rican played the ball to Zakuani. His touch back got away from him but fell right to Gonzalez, who hit a brilliant, swerving, unsaveable shot with the outside of his foot from the edge of the penalty area that found the back of the net.

Not to be outdone, Zakuani chipped in with a wonderful goal of his own about twenty minutes later. Again it was Montero, this time taking a quick throw-in, acting as the catalyst. The throw found Brad Evans in the box, and he controlled the ball before looping it back out to Zakuani. He took the ball out of mid-air, volleying it with his right foot off the crossbar and in, with the kind of accuracy no keeper in the world could have done anything about.

Pat Noonan tried to get in on the goal-scoring action in the 31st minute. He received the ball with two defenders on him, shook off one and juked past the second before smacking his shot off the post. The ball rebounded away to safety.

But Seattle wasn’t done putting the ball in the back of the net. In the 42nd minute Gonzalez passed to Noonan, who touched the ball over to Montero. He took his time with the ball at his feet, faking a shot to create a little more space, before smashing a low shot under beleaguered backup goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth and in for another score.

Schmid credited the change to a 4-4-2 formation, with Ljungberg playing on the wing and Noonan up top with Montero as a second striker, for some of the offensive production.

“Sometimes if we’re a little more clever, a little more composed, we’ll get even more goals,” he said. “It was definitely a huge step in the right direction and the change in formation helped us the most.”

Two of the Sounders’ highest profile offensive players, Ljungberg and Montero, shined in their new positions. Although Ljungberg didn’t get on the scoresheet, he was influential all game long, constantly breaking down the New England defense.

The Seattle domination continued in the second half even though they were unable to score again. But New England never threatened and they appeared beaten as soon as the second goal was scored against them.

Perhaps the best way to summarize the one-sidedness of the match is through the comments of New England coach Steve Nicol, who was understandably disappointed with the match.

“There is nothing we can take away from this game that is positive,” Nicol said.

If nothing about the match was positive for New England, then everything was positive for the Sounders.

Sounders Player Ratings
Kasey Keller 6.5 – Came out very well to punch clear a couple times when he was needed, but had very little to do.
James Riley 6 – Not much action on his side but he was reasonably solid when called upon.
Jeff Parke 6 – Played bigger than he is. He did misjudge one ball that led to a New England free header, and while not winning every ball always put pressure on the opposing player.
Tyrone Marshall 6.5 – Did well in the air early even when under pressure, and was winning most everything. New England weren’t offering much going forward, though.
Leo Gonzalez 8 – Incredible game. After scoring an absolute golazo, it seemed like he got an extreme boost of confidence and was a monster on offense and defense. Got forward fearlessly and was still able to recover defensively. He was subbed out in the 90th minute just so he could get a huge ovation. That says a lot.
Freddie Ljungberg 7.5 – Very good work on the ball on wing throughout the entire game, was able to use his pace and trickery to get free. To his credit he stayed out on the wing, keeping the formation in good shape, and he appeared to be much more effective there. Although he didn’t always link up perfectly with the other attackers, still had his best game in a long time.
Patrick Ianni 5.5 – Stepped into a few hard challenges early and always won the ball. Was effectively physical and helped take Joseph out of the match. His passing was really bad though, as he had quite a few weird giveaways and balls played to nobody.
Brad Evans 6.5 – Constantly was getting himself in good spaces, and his being in the right place led to goal number two. Probably in his best position as an all-purpose central midfielder.
Steve Zakuani 7 – Combined extremely well down the left wing, and was very dangerous early. Scored his goal on a ridiculously good volley. Shifted to right side in second half sometimes and drifted out of the match occasionally, but it was over already then.
Pat Noonan 7 – Quietly effective. One really good run to beat two defenders and hit the post. Played intelligently, especially to get it to Montero for the third goal. He did look like he had tired legs toward the end and was subbed out in the 81st minute.
Fredy Montero 7.5 – Good holding-up play on the ball throughout the game. He just looks so much more comfortable as a second striker, I cannot emphasize this enough. Fantastic composure on his goal, and was involved in the other two. Showed just how good he can be.
Roger Levesque 5.5 (sub 81) He’s a hustler, even though the game was completely out of reach. Missed a pretty good chance.
Sanna Nyassi (sub 85) Not on long and barely touched the ball.
Taylor Graham (sub 90) Not on long and I’m not sure if he ever touched the ball.

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Photo gallery: Sounders 3, Revs 0

Posted on 06 June 2010 by dlindsay

The Seattle Sounders soundly defeated the New England Revolution by a score of 3-0 in the final MLS match before the World Cup break. Here is a photo gallery supplied by David Lindsay.

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Michael Fucito Goal Celebration

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Fucito winner saves Sounders at Qwest

Posted on 18 April 2010 by Kyle Alm

The gray Seattle sky served as an appropriate backdrop for the Sounders on Saturday. Both teams started quickly in the first half and had chances to score, but the game became quite slow with both teams seemingly content to play from their defensive half when the other team had the ball. After 91 minutes of dreary dullness that seemed so pervasive during the Sounders vs Kansas City match a single bright spot stood out. Michael Fucito netted his first goal as a Sounder after coming on in the 85th minute for Steve Zakuani. It was first goal that Kansas City has allowed all season, first goal in stoppage time in Sounders history, and probably the first assist off of a throw-in. Evans to Fucito. Substitute to substitute.

“I saw Brad had the ball and I just kind of ran through trying to stretch them. It was a great throw great pass, and I turned and I was one on one with the goalie, hit it, and you know, I finished it well, it was unbelievable.”

Michael Fucito goal celebration

The fans at Qwest erupt as Michael Fucito scores the winner in the 92nd minute.

I wonder if the Wizards defenders are going to receive calls from their old coaches asking them about how Fucito got so open? Fucito had no one around him and only needed one touch to beat Jimmy Nielsen for the winner. Fans at Qwest who had been loud all game suddenly exploded with delight.

But it only took a few moments for the Sounders to show weakness as Kansas City promptly came down and shot the ball just wide of Kasey Keller’s post. That would have been a major letdown. Talk about the air going out of the building. Questions galore at that point.

There are still plenty of questions about the starting lineup that the Sounders put on the pitch. Ljungberg was not sharp today, nor was he sharp against Real Salt Lake last week. His touch was heavy, he isn’t going to beat anyone off the dribble and his passing was off. He was called offsides at a point late in the game that cost the Sounders a scoring opportunity. Sounders coach Sigi Schmid in his post-game statement was quick to mention how well Vagenas controls the ball in midfield and how important it was to his game plan against KC. It worked. Despite a couple of dangerous turnovers that lead to KC chances. Still Vagenas’ mistakes didn’t hurt, so he can be forgiven.

Now that we are four games into the season I’ll revisit my Seven questions for the Seattle Sounders 2010 Season post from the beginning of the season.

Nate Jaqua: I’ve heard he’s “training,” but he’s not going to be playing real soon, probably in a couple of weeks. Hasn’t had a chance to produce.

James Riley: Riley has been solid since he has been back. He does give players a lot of space up til the edge of the box. Hasn’t hurt him consistently that I can tell.

Fredy Montero: Has really improved getting the ball to his teammates with the exception of Freddie Ljungberg. For some reason the two best players on the pitch are never on the same page. He’s got assists and goals and will be in the running for a Golden Boot if he doesn’t transfer to CSKA Moscow or wherever the next rumor takes him.

Steve Zakuani: Major improvement, may be having the best season of any Sounder, Montero has a major stake in that argument. But Zakuani hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. That yellow card today was silly, he should have put his hands on the ref. In his defense the ref did come towards him and I think Zakuani was letting him know he was close enough, but I digress. Zakuani is a dangerous player and has continued to show improvement from game to game.

Freddie Ljungberg: Truculent at times, talks to the ref too much, and hasn’t been able to sync up with Montero well, which is a tragedy when you think about how much better the team would be. In the past I thought that the problem was with Montero not releasing the ball early enough or not looking for passes but I am wondering if Freddie Ljungberg has more to do with it that I would like to admit.

Kasey Keller: Solid in goal. As usual. No worries there.

Corner Kicks & Set Pieces: Ugh. This needs it’s own post later this week devoted to this subject. I’ll just say that they are probably productive compared to the rest of the league and are really lacking in creativity, there are few instances where the ball doesn’t go exactly where you expect it to. A little misdirection can be a good way to find some space.

Rookie Class: Fucito got us three points today, I’d say that the 2010 Rookie Class for the Sounders is meeting or exceeding expectations for being productive. Estrada hasn’t had a breakthrough yet. Fucito remarked that his second game was a more settled affair for him. The same will also be true for Estrada .

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What awaits the Sounders tonight

Posted on 03 April 2010 by Kyle Alm

For the New York Red Bulls 2009 had to be disappointing. As runners up for the MLS Cup in 2008 they were expected to compete for a championship again. The Red Bulls came into Seattle as a team to beat and left as a study in moppishness. By any measure the Red Bulls tanked last season. Lowest point total in the league. Fewest goals scored.

The other side of that argument is that the Red Bulls were never really that good in the first place. Lowest point total for MLS 2008 playoff teams and the worst Goals Against of any playoff team. They were fortunate to wind up in the final and it may have been too optimistic to place them among the elite in the league. There has been a lot of discussion with a similar theme, “new stadium, new coach, new players, new team,” but who are these “new” Red Bulls?

Hans Backe has been brought in as head coach; he’s a newcomer to MLS, but has a lot of experience in “lower” European leagues and has won championships. Joel Lindpere has certainly been a noteworthy and productive midfielder so far, but it is still only one match into the season. Juan Pablo Angel is apparently still getting fit from his knee injury and may not be the player that he once was. Winning can cover any number of sins and shortcomings. When you lose everything is under a microscope. The win against the Chicago Fire doesn’t really prove anything for the Red Bulls, let’s see how they do away from their new stadium.

As for the Sounders everything seems to be lining up favorably. Ljungberg seemed to do whatever he wanted on the pitch, the only way that the Union seemed able to contain him by fouling him repeatedly. James Riley will be returning from a one-match suspension and will likely get the start tonight. Riley may not be the best defender in MLS but he doesn’t seem to make a lot of mistakes and he gets forward very well and had a career high in assists (and games) in 2009. The Sounders are definitely better with Riley on the pitch.

Key Matchups

Steve Zakuani – Jeremy Hall
Zakuani beat the Union defenders like a pack of rented mules. Zakuani could be one of the fastest wings in MLS and was instrumental in creating a goal for Evans and left a sitter for Roger Levesque that went into the North End stands.
Advantage SOUNDERS

Brad Evans – Joel Lindpere

Lindpere’s goal against the Chicago Fire was a very decent volley, the setup wasn’t all that great, it just kind of bounced to him and he got a shot. Lindpere is not the kind of player you can allow to shoot. He doesn’t need much space to get his shot off. Evans is a good midfielder, and a decent defender, should match up well with Lindpere physically. If Evans can keep Lindpere contained and keep him off of his goal pace it will be considered a successful outing.
Advantage EVEN

Questions:

Will Freddie Ljungberg start?
He’s been in training and is available for today’s match, but is a game time decision after due to heavy bruising from the Union.
LIKELY YES

Who starts on the right wing for Sounders FC Roger Levesque or Sanna Nyassi?
Levesque missed a couple of opportunities to score against the Union, but at least he had a chance to score and it didn’t hurt his team’s result. Sanna Nyassi looked good with the ball on his foot, which is a big improvement from last season, and was also able to use his speed to his advantage. Nyassi was trigger happy coming on and had a couple of shots where he had players open. Nyassi is also as fast as he is undersized. Nyassi could be more vulnerable to getting knocked off the ball.
TOSSUP (but look for both of them to play no matter who starts)

PREDICTION
2-0 Sounders, another clean sheet for Man of the Match Kasey Keller and deja vu for the Red Bulls.

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Seven questions for the Seattle Sounders 2010 season

Posted on 06 March 2010 by Kyle Alm

All things being equal, it appears the Seattle Sounders will continue down the path of their early success. Certainly everyone is very keen to get down to Royal Brougham and see the matches again. A year ago, as an expansion team, expectations were low. Even if the owners’ and players’ stated goal was to make the playoffs in the first season, no one would have been disappointed if the team didn’t make the postseason at all. It was a great run to inaugurate the the team and the city of Seattle in 2009.

This year is very different. The Sounders are U.S. Open Cup Champions and are playing in the CONCACAF Champions’ League. The thought of not making the playoffs is disconcerting and the thought of a losing season practically unbearable for Sounders nation.

Here are seven questions areas in rough order of importance to the team in 2010:

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Nate Jaqua: Needs to improve his finishing touch from last season to show that he was only in a goal scoring slump and not beginning a decline in his career. Jaqua can be a creative passer and was moved out on the wing where he prefers to play towards the end of the season, but doubts remain.

James Riley: Philly decided against selecting Seattle’s starting right back in the expansion draft. Age could not have been a factor; Riley is 27 which is not old for professional sports unless you are a female gymnast.

Fredy Montero: Spends too much time on the ball. Can’t remember him making a one-touch pass during the season. Ljungberg seemed furious with the precocious Colombian at times when he didn’t get the ball back. Montero is a single-minded striker.

Steve Zakuani: Has great pace with the ball. Few defenders can keep up with his pace. But he didn’t score many goals or get assists, and that’s what offense is really about: Creating and finishing chances. Needs to avoid a “sophomore slump” and improve skill to match his athletic prowess.

Freddie Ljungberg: Can the most fouled player in MLS stay healthy? This didn’t seem to be an issue for him last season, and Ljungberg was probably one of the fittest players on the team. But there are going to be a few more matches on the schedule this time around, and we are all one year older aren’t we?

Kasey Keller: Along with Houston’s Pat Onstad showing why life really is better at 40. Keller and Onstad are two of the oldest and best players in MLS. Mr. Keller’s continued health is crucial to the success of the Sounders, but it seems likely that he will be healthy and available for the entire season.

Corner Kicks & Set Pieces: Sounders were awful at set pieces and corners. Patrick Ianni scored a brilliant overhead kick against Houston on a corner, but the team needs more goals off corners and free kicks.

Honorable Mention
Rookie Class: No one is counting on any of the first year players to get Seattle to the playoffs, but if one or (wonder of wonders) two of them have breakthrough seasons it could really give the Sounders a lift in the US Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions’ League and of course the MLS.

So that’s what’s on my mind as the Sounders get ready to start the 2010 season. Of course keeping players healthy is going to be the primary indicator of success, as it is in any team sport. The Sounders don’t seem to have many glaring holes. Other leading teams haven’t signed new DPs or major names. One could only speculate that the CBA has anything to do with the seemingly slow offseason in terms of personnel moves that bring players to MLS. Raul and Thierry Henry are rumored to be joining the New York Red Bulls, but the majority of player moves were outbound (Blanco and possibly Donovan). Sounders are going to compete for a playoff spot and the MLS Cup but it’s only if they stay healthy and get an improvement out of Jacqua, Zakuani and Montero.

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