Two home matches, two wins. Is there much more that could be, or should be made from the Sounders taking six points out of six possible in the first two matches of 2012?
if this MLS season is a Marathon potentially lasting until December, then I’m more concerned about the Sounders accumulating early injuries than points from victories. On paper, the start is an improvement over the 0-W, 2-L start the club had at this time last year. But injuries temper short-term success in a long season.
Collin Lamont (@ChamberECS on twitter) made an interesting observation about a “formidable lineup” of Sounders. A nearly all injured lineup: Josh Ford – Keeper, Adam Johansson – Defender, Mauro Rosales – Midfielder, Eddie Johnson – Forward, Brad Evans – Midfielder (game-time decision) Steve Zakuani – Midfielder, Michael Tetteh – Defender, Andrew Duran – Defender, Babayele Sodade – Forward
Names you don’t want to see on the injured list too long.
The talented Sounders depth will be pressed up against the wall. That depth is often about season development, more than about being forced into action. But the length of the Sounders current triage list will force many developing players into action.
With four of the Sounders first five goals in 2012, David Estrada is bringing Sounders depth to the surface. As with Neagle and Fucito before him, there is a precedent in the Sounders camp for developing players rising to meet the challenge when injuries begin to mount.
If you are like me, when you are jumping and singing praise for your own clubs heroes, like Estrada, it’s hard to see any other players in MLS who deserve mention for their hard work and team-first work ethic.
Chris Wondolowski stands out. The San Jose Earthquakes starting forward deserves the growing recognition he’s receiving. He doesn’t take many days off. When he’s not playing for the Earthquakes and tallying the most goals in MLS over the last two years, he’s working his way onto Jurgen Klinsmann’s, US Men’s National Team lineup.
Paired with the ever-present threat of Steven Lenhart, San Jose posses one of the more lethal 1-2 goal scorning punches in Major League Soccer. The Sounders have the defensive strength and talent to stand tall to San Jose, but the challenge can’t be taken lightly.
Wondolowski has graduated from proving his role each week as a starter. Now he’s proving his place above other goal scoring names like, Henry, Donovan, Montero, and Shea. He wants to prove his efforts can lift San Jose up as a playoff threat, while solidifying his spot on the National Team.
San Jose will test the Sounders depth.
The Earthquakes are the most complete challenge for the Sounders so far this season. They possess some of the same threat the Sounders faced in the attacking height that Toronto and Houston had. But they posses a more attacking midfield. Sounders need to be alert to the constant threat of a quick San Jose counter attack. Their defense has been their leaky faucet, but has improved. They will come in with a chip on their shoulder from being the team that lost to Keller in his last regular season appearance before retiring.
Heritage Cup: NASL is still alive in spirit. San Jose Earthquakes, Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers, and Seattle Sounders are all part of the continued history from their former NASL days. Before Portland and Vancouver joined in 2011, the first Heritage Cup went to San Jose in 2009. Sounders won the next two in 2010 and 2011. Tonight is the first Heritage Cup match of 2012.
Last meeting: The last meeting between San Jose and Seattle was the historic last regular season home match in front of goal for Kasey Keller. October 15th, 2011, Sounders won 2-1 for Keller’s last home regular season match. To mark the night as a historic date for the Sounders, there were memorable performances by the club and from Keller himself. Sounders fell behind 1-0 to none other than Chris Wondolowski. The lead would have increased had anyone other than Keller been in net. Keller thrilled a crowd of over 50,000 by making of succession of 4 saves. Diving, charging, going to turf, rising again, and knocking the ball away. Rare to ever see many efforts like it. Topping the night off, Sammy Ochoa and Fredy Montero scored two late Sounders goals to leave the crowd thrilled and give Keller a happy retirement memory.
Alonso = Honey Badger: Osvaldo Alonso has had his tenacious style of winning balls back from quickly from other teams earn the midfielder the nick name “Honey Badger”. For his efforts last week he earned a place on the Major League Soccer Best XI.
© 2012 Sales on Sounders by Ryan Sales