With the LA Galaxy set to take on the Seattle Sounders on Sunday, I sat down and had a heart to heart with Sounder at Heart manager Dave Clark to talk Sounders, coffee, and the finer things in life. Okay, we just talked soccer, but it was an informative chat. Get to know the Sounders a bit better with three questions, then head over to Sounder at Heart to see how I answered his questions about the Galaxy.
1. With the transfer window closing, how would you grade the changes made to the Sounder's roster?
To me the key was getting Mario Martinez the Honduran attacking midfielder. Without that move the difference would be Christian Tiffert + Alex Caskey v Alvaro Fernandez + Brad Evans. That would have been an adjustment in style without a large change in quality. By grabbing Martinez, still to be formally announced, they still have a ball control specialist wide and left and add Tiffert's service from deeper central positions. In the end, this is a strong improvement and continues to push the Sounders forward.
2. Despite the struggles, Seattle remains in playoff contention. What do you see as this team's floor? How about their ceiling?
They've already reached the floor when they went winless over 9 games. Of course, in that same period they never lost two in a row and beat the San Jose Earthquakes in Open Cup play. The biggest problem during that stretch was defense, and yet on the season the team is still a top three defensive team in MLS. That's because of the strong start when the team went 7-1-1 and only gave up three goals. But that's not their ceiling. The ceiling on this squad is one that can make a run in the CCL and the MLS Cup Playoffs. Being a strong regular season team isn't enough, they've done that. Once falling a missed PK short of the Supporters' Shield and last year coming in second. Since that trophy is out of reach the peak will be if Seattle can do well in the Playoffs.
3. Why do you think teams/players/sportswriters continue to bring up the turf at the C-link? It reminds me of how domes (which Seattle also had) used to be viewed in the NFL/MLB.
I find it hilarious. To paraphrase Zach Scott, if other teams are scared of playing here it just means it's easier for the Sounders to win. When national pundits claim that it is artificial surfaces that is holding American soccer back they are proving themselves idiots. It doesn't hold back Mexico, Costa Rica or Russia (all which have teams playing on artificial surfaces). When players say that they are more likely to get injured I laugh for different reasons. First because it shows an emotional response devoid of adjustments in the technology and two because most of them train on artificial fields or dirt at various points in their lives. If the artificial was going to cause so many more injuries why do about half of EPL teams have their players spend more time on that surface than grass?
Would I like grass at CenturyLink? Yes. I'd also like a unicorn and a talking monkey. For now I'll just settle for my great dog and the highest quality surface that is usable under the current configuration and usage pattern of the CLink.
This fall the CLink will host two American football teams and the Sounders. If they had grass this year it would be the worst surface used in CONCACAF.
Bonus question: Starting lineup prediction?
Tiffert could be available. It's all about the work visa. If he's here the team will be more 4231 with him in for Evans rather than the hybridy thing they do now