The Houston Dynamo, with a win, have an opportunity to move back to the top of the Western Conference standings over Sporting Kansas City. They’ll be in Seattle tonight, looking for three points from Century Link Field.
They have just one point from six away games so far. That, obviously, needs to change. It’s possible that they could get star winger Romell Quioto back from injury, as he is currently listed as questionable. That would likely force Wilmer Cabrera to make a decision between Mauro Manotas and Cubo Torres for the position of starting striker. It is not immediately clear as to who has the upper hand in that ongoing battle.
The Sounders, defending their MLS Cup championship, of course, have experienced a rough start to the season so far. They’re currently eighth in the Western Conference, three points off the red line, and have not seen much production from their multitude of star attackers.
Here’s what you can expect from Seattle tonight:
- Seattle will put out a weakened XI. Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris are with the USMNT, and starting center back Roman Torres is listed as questionable. In addition, Will Bruin, the obvious replacement for Morris, is out injured. Here’s the lineup MLSsoccer.com predicts, because I’m honestly not completely sure:
That’s Seyi Adekoya up top, a player I can’t say I know all that much about. He’s 21, from Seattle, and has played for Sounders 2. #analysis.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they played Joevin Jones at left back, where he’s been arguably the best outside back in MLS this year, and started Harry Shipp on the right wing. The problem with that is that they’ve often been too narrow in attack, and Shipp likes to be inverted. That takes space away from Nicolas Lodeiro.
- I hope Cristian Roldan doesn’t start at right back. He’s a center mid, a classic No. 8, and is really good there. Given their weakness at the position, though, Brian Schmetzer has tried him there. If he does, remember this when Alberth Elis shreds him.
- Seattle like to keep the ball high up the field. The Sounders usually hang around the top of the MLS possession standings not because they build from the back a la NYCFC, but because they like to set up shop in the attacking third and rotate the ball between Lodeiro and Ozzie Alonso before either switching to a wide open Jones and playing through to Morris, who either scores or takes a long touch and the keeper picks it up.
They may not do this as much tonight without Dempsey taking up space and drawing defenders centrally. They’ll still probably try, especially at home.
- Alonso will hound Torres/Manotas. You could make the argument that Alonso remains the best No. 6 in MLS, even though he’s struggled at times this season. He is smart, aggressive, merciless, and will not let strikers have time and space.
If you haven’t seen him play much, I would say he plays like a mid-2016 Alex, but deeper, smarter, and better. He’s a ball-winner, and spends a lot of time on the ball.
- The Sounders will be threatening from set pieces. With Lodeiro hitting sharp in-swingers and players like Chad Marshall in the box, Seattle are one of the better MLS teams at scoring from corners and free-kicks.
Marshall is a very good header of the ball, and Alonso can be a threat in the box as well. Even without Dempsey and Morris, they will have opportunities.