Tomorrow the LA Galaxy will take on the Seattle Sounders, broadcast nationally on ESPN2. It's an important match for the Sounders, who can still position themselves as a potential Cup host if they get into second place in the West. It's not so important for the Galaxy, who can't alter their playoff fate anymore. To help us preview the match, we asked three questions of Sounder at Heart's Dave Clark. As always, check over there for my answers to his questions.
1- Seattle got through Champions League much the way the Galaxy did, with reserves playing a huge role. They also play a big role in the US Open Cup runs. Who among them do you expect to start seeing on the senior team?
Due to injuries along the backline there is basically a seven man rotation there and has been throughout the season. Hurtado, Scott and Burch have all started often enough that their playing in the CCL was not an example of depth, but more about keeping them fresh. It was in the attacking positions where you got a real look at the future of the Sounders. Mario Martinez has a skil set that is a fusion of Rosales/Montero, at only 23 his future is bright. You could see him as a frequently used sub in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Steve Zakuani is back. His goal against Marathon was a vintage Zakuani move. He does not fit as a starter these days, but he can still change games. David Estrada and Sammy Ochoa are two non-league all stars. They can and do contribute in MLS play, but they are the types of players that Sigi has used to so much success in the Open Cup and Champions League.
2- The Sounders still have something to play for on Sunday. Is home field advantage in the quarterfinal tie important enough that the Sounders will continue to push for three points if the match is drawn late?
If Seattle gets three points they have a decent chance at hosting the MLS Cup Final and backing into the next Champions League cycle. Both of those are worthy goals. Yes, the Western Conference standings are unlikely to mean much, but the bigger picture means that you should expect Sigi to push for goals. Seattle hosted the Cup Final in 2009, the chance to do that again, but with the home side has an appeal that can not be overstated.
3- Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson have quietly become an offensive duo to rival Donovan and Keane or Wondo and Leinhart, at least as far as production is concerned. Do they work together as well as the other duos?
The pairing they are most like is Saborio/Espindola. It's a big/small thing with EJ typically sticking inside the 18 and awaiting the cross. His heading is better than anyone else in the league and at this point he's often double-teamed when close. That leaves Montero with space to roam about 20-25 yards away from goal drifting from side to side.
Fredy still has that dangerous distance shot, can use his slippery little passes and pounces on rebounds quite well. What you won't often see are patterns of play that involve the two of them passing to each other. They do get some secondary assists on goals by the other, but the play seems to run through a third player to maximize space available.