Panama heat, Houston heat, Kansas heat, even CONCACAF Referee heat. A quartet of chili pepper challenges behind them, Sounders came out looking pretty cool. Two wins and two losses. For their brave efforts, splitting the peppers found the Sounders continuing to climb the Scoville scale of Major League Soccer. What can they get from goats this week?
Defeating San Francisco FC of Panama, qualified Sounders for Group stages in CONCACAF Champions League. Two stoppage time goals last weekend against Sporting Kansas City and the Sounders became the first MLS franchise to win at new Livestrong Sporting Park. The win placed Seattle one point behind Dallas for third in the west, at 41 points on the season.
Both Sounders goals came in stoppage time. The second nearly at the death. Mauro Rosales played a full 120 minutes last Wednesday in the 2-nil CONCACAF defeat of San Francisco FC. So, it was nothing short of amazing to watch him carve the ball away from two defenders after another full 90 minutes against Sporting Kansas City. With more workman than flash-like moves, Rosales used a calm sense of poise to drag the ball away from two Sporting defenders. Then pass the ball past their Keeper, Jimmy Nielsen for an equalizing goal. The Sounders would have been content with that tying goal for a draw. Moments later they pushed forward again. Mauro Rosales passed the ball from the top of the box to the left of goal, where Lamar Neagle met the ball one time with his right foot, skirting the ball past two defenders, and into the net of a heartbroken Jimmy Nielsen for the winning goal.
Sounders FC are building a scary reputation for being road warrior streak busters. The 2-1 win at Sporting Kansas City’s, Livestrong Sporting Park was their third such feat. In 2009 Seattle ended Columbus Crew’s undefeated streak at 22-games. In May of this year, Sounders went to Real Salt Lakes’s fortress, Rio Tinto and stopped their undefeated streak at 29-games. The win at Livestrong stopped Sporting’s 14-game undefeated streak.
It wasn’t the first time Kansas City have played Sounders FC matches expecting to get something, only to come away empty-handed and disappointed. With the win, Seattle picks up their third stoppage time win over Kansas City. Last year at Qwest Field there was the famous Fucito Finish. The stoppage time goal from Mike Fucito to grab a 1-nil win. Then, on May 21st, Jeff Parke made it “lightning strikes twice” and headed in a second stoppage time winner. Coach, Sigi Schmid, felt this third such victory was justified pay-back. “They were the first team to beat us at Qwest, and we’re now the first team to beat them at Livestrong”.
I think it is safe to say Sporting Kansas City will be perfectly happy to not see the Sounders again until next year.
Here come the Goats!!!
At 7-wins, 8-losses, and 8-draws, Club Deportivo Chivas USA comes to CenturyLink a more dangerous attacking team than their record shows. With 29-points from 23-matches, they are sitting sixth in the Western Conference. Right now, that is good enough for the 10th and final MLS Playoff spot.
Strong in attack. Chivas have scored 30 goals over 23 matches. It is their defense that needs work. The Sounders defense are not entirely different. They have also given up more goals than Kasey Keller would like in his final season. Unless either defense becomes stingy it could be an exciting, high-scoring 3-2 match.
The Sounders have developed a knack for dramatic finishes this season. Especially at home. Their confidence for always finding a way to win matches will favor Sounders FC against Chivas USA. Beyond that, grab a coin and flip for a winner.
If that seems dismissive of the Sounders better results and record reflecting their effort. I assure you it is not. The Sounders have demonstrated they have a club poise and quality for winning. No team possesses a flare for outrageous winning like Sounders FC. With 210 minutes played in the last two matches, resulting in two wins, including one in overtime and the other in stoppage time, their team chemistry and determination are among the best in MLS currently.
Seattle’s success goes beyond the intangibles of team chemistry and is in no small part due to their developing talents. No one in MLS tackles better, and disrupts opposing midfield play more than Sounders’ Osvaldo Alonso. Mauro Rosales is playing like he belongs on an MLS starting XI. Add to that the dynamic in-form play of Alvaro Fernandez, along with Fredy Montero, and Seattle’s midfield and front attack is something to fear. On the other end of the field, a few too many defensive miscues have demonstrated Sounders back line cohesion needs to improve to make a significant playoff run.
Chivas plays a high attacking line, exposing defenses to fast breaks. They will attempt to run fast and often at Seattle’s defense to keep them unsettled. They show good attacking form with their passing, possession and forward movement from players off the ball. This does leave their defense exposed. But allowing a couple of goals is something they are not afraid to risk in order to create a winning goal in a high scoring affair.
Where Chivas lacks some of the Sounders cohesiveness, they are not short of youthful talent. With a great mix of strength and speed, which is starting to come together, Chivas are looking more dangerous all the time.
Midfielder, Nick LaBrocca along with forwards, Justin Braun and Alejandro Moreno will put pressure on Seattle’s back line. If Seattle uses their few extra days rest and preparation this week, they should be able to use passing and possession to counter Chivas strength and speed in going forward.
One thing 36,000 fans do for opposing teams when they come to Seattle is make them want to bring out their best. Chivas would like to prove they belong in the MLS Playoff-Ten. With four teams on their heels, taking all three points in Seattle would help strengthen their playoff position and add confidence to their push towards the end of season.
Playoff positioning is equally important to Seattle, who would like to keep pressure on Dallas and LA. The chase for second place in the Western Conference heats up next week in Frisco, Texas as Seattle and Dallas face-off at Pizza Hut Park. Trailing LA by 7-points for top spot in MLS and Supporters Shield may prove too tall a hill to climb, but winning never hurts your chances. Any slip from LA, and another late season winning run from Seattle could leap them into Major League Soccer’s top spot.
© 2011 Sales on Sounders – by Ryan Sales