Good morning LA Galaxy fans. As you know, each week here at the confidential we have a guest from that week's opponent's blog come on and preview their team. With the impacted week we'll be doing two such articles, which means I get to find a creative answer to the "how is the team getting on without Omar Gonzalez" question not just once but twice! We're joined by Dave Clark from Sounder at Heart and as always, if you want to see my interview you'll have to head over their and check out what they're doing. Sound at Heart is truly the model all the other MLS blogs are trying to follow, so it's definitely worth your time.
LAG Conf. - Eddie Johnson scored for Seattle last match, just from reading twitter it seemed like he poached one and then injured himself. Would you call that a fair synecdoche for his body of work with the Sounders thus far?
It was definitely a poached goal, purely about time, space and good fortune more than anything. The injury though seemed to be as much about killing some time as anything else. It should not linger. So far EJ's performances are fairly average. While there are moments where he looks amazing, doing things that seem straight out of FIFA street there is also a clear disconnect from his teammates. He missed significant training time with the team due to various injuries and Sigi expects him to be fully meshed in mid-May.
For the Wednesday match he's almost certain to be the first player subbed off. Lack of fitness is one of the concerns about Johnson. Saturday was his first time going 90 (and yet didn't finish the game, hooray long stoppages) in years. He should still start, likely as much to continue building his chemistry with Fredy Montero and Mauro Rosales.
LAG Conf. - David Estrada has one goal since his hat trick. Is this his break out year, or do you expect him to normalize over the course of the season?
One of the toughest questions regarding Estrada is "what's normal?" Between first team, reserve and training minutes he's been a right back, high forward, withdrawn forward, right mid, left mid, center attacking mid in a diamond and probably other roles that don't exist in any nomenclature but were tried just to see how they work. At the beginning of the season the expectation was that he'd be a younger Roger Levesque using his energy and fitness to harass the opponent all about the pitch and extending the bench's flexibility. As the team returns to health he's moving away from being a starter, but will clearly be featured part of the team in during a 32 day stretch with 9 games (8 MLS and 1 Open Cup).
At the end of May the league should know what Estrada has become. He's clearly fast, strong and willing to shoot in tight situations or at odd angles. His knowledge of space improved over the last couple years as well. Will 2012 be a season that gets him recognition approaching where he was as a freshman at UCLA or is he destined to be just another American soccer player in MLS? At this point I have no idea.
LAG Conf. - We'll get to your starting XI, but in a two match week where it's home-road, do you think Seattle goes full strength roster on Wednesday since it's at home and then rest players on Saturday, or rest Wednesday to keep to the rhythm of the season?
Fitness will basically determine the rotation. Seattle's schedule is absolutely packed, but something they are used to (last August they went 7-0-1 in all competitions). Players like Patrick Ianni, Alvaro Fernandez, Zach Scott and Roger Levesque all have starts on the season and went unused on Saturday. Each of those but Fernandez are more likely than not to be used on Wednesday. If both Scott and Ianni are on the pitch the Sounders defense is probably better than it was on Saturday night when only a wind assisted Olimpico wound up scoring for the Fire.
Other players that will see time in May are Sammy Ochoa, Marc Burch, Christian Sivebaek and Servando Carrasco. Adrian Hanauer, Chris Henderson and Sigi Schmid build the team to compete in all competitions every year. They place a pride in the depth of the roster. Three Open Cup banners and decent second run in the CONCACAF Champions League with two wins over Mexican teams demonstrated their ability to construct rosters. Seattle's ability to make a run at the 2012 Supporters Shield depends on this upcoming stretch.