With the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders going head to head this Monday night, we sent over three Comi-Con inspired questions to Sounder at Heart. First up his answers to my questions, and later my answers to his questions. I asked about the play of Obafemi Martins, Chad Marshall's comeback, and what could slow down the red hot Sounders.
1) Martins credits Captain America Clint Dempsey with making his job easier. How have you seen Martins' role change since Dempsey came aboard?
When Obafemi Martins first got here he either played as a high forward in parallel to Eddie Johnson, or behind EJ. It was a way to take advantage of his great speed. Now he generally plays as a target man, a very unconventional target man. If Seattle boots it forward to Oba the goal isn't for him to head it down and wait, instead his feet are the target. Though short his muscle mass and great ball control mean that he can put his back against a vast majority of MLS central defenders and maintain possession. He will either curl around them or drop the ball off to Dempsey.
There are also times when Seattle drops both Clint and Martins back into the midfield shifting to a 4-6-0. Both are good enough with the ball at their feet that they can charge at a line. They'll use a skill move or a subtle pass to get someone an open shot.
2) Chad Marshall has had a Loki-esque resurgence. How has he improved the Sounders' defense this year?
He controls the air. He's probably lost an aerial duel, but it's rare enough that one should start wondering why teams are still going for high crosses against a prepared Air Marshall. One of the things that puts him a cut above is that when he wins the header it isn't just a clearance, but a pass. The Sounders can get out on the break when Marshall cuts out a cross attempt and that's down right special. Seattle clearly had errors early in the season, but it was seven competitive matches ago that they gave up more than a single goal. Their expected goals against has been in the top quartile for some time.
3) How can Seattle sustain this run of form? What could be their Kryptonite?
Now that the defense seems settled things feel real good up here on the Puget Sound. But they also felt good last year when the club was in control of its own Supporters' Shield destiny. Injuries could end things, that's pretty simple. If a couple transfers that are too good to ignore came about that would slow things down quite a bit. Teams are going to continue trying to attack the space behind Yedlin. That sometimes works.
Bonus question: Which Seattle Sounder is most likely to be a secret Cosplayer?
It's got to be one of Yedlin, Ford and Neagle. Those three are always dressing in ways that only the uber-confident and fashion forward can. Yedlin would make a great elf. Ford could be a superhero. Neagle could pull off the suspender and long coat look of Mal.
Significant Absences: Brad Evans (new as of today)
Projected Lineup: Frei; Gonzalez, Scott, Marshall, Yedlin; Neagle, Pineda, Alonso, Pappa; Dempsey, Martins