With Manchester in the Rave Green rear view mirror, and a vital CONCACAF Champions League match coming up quickly, Wednesday’s second-leg CONCACAF qualifier against San Francisco, from Panama, Sounders FC rejoins regular season Major League Soccer play tonight in heavy-heat Houston against the Dynamo. Where their strong mid-season run will be hotly tested.
Over the last nine league matches, Seattle has looked among the best of MLS. In terms of developing form for the fall playoffs, Sounders FC have looked the best early prospect. The positive run of form includes a team personal best nine game undefeated streak. (6-wins to 3-draws). Houston and heat may pose the toughest challenge in the last 10 matches. A win would secure Seattle’s confident run of form. It would also press them closer to LA for the league’s top record. A draw would be happily acceptable. A loss would pose tough questions for a recently shaky defense.
During their strong midseason run, Seattle has scored an outstanding 17 goals. They have also conceded an unacceptable 11 goals. The defensive lapses have gone largely overlooked because of beautiful free kicks, amazing comebacks, and fanatic goal celebrations. The winning entertainment has rained more than Seattle precipitation. So few have noticed the potential mudslide. Seattle needs to dry its slippery defensive goal rush in the hot Houston heat.
Whenever Houston Dynamo and Sounders FC meet, it feels like a long distance rivalry. Only the Sounders third season in Major League Soccer and memories lay out like entries in a log book:
Season one, Seattle: Patrick Ianni’s winning bicycle kick. Or, as Assistant coach Brian Schmetzer said, “If you would have told me before the game that we were going to win on a bicycle kick and ask me which player would kick it, he would have been about No. 9″.
Season one, Houston: Nate Jaqua hits 70th minute equalizer, for late 1-1 draw.
Season one, Playoffs, first-leg, Seattle: Pat Onstad hit Montero’s head in the penalty box for what appeared to be a red card. Montero was shown yellow for faking injury.
Season one, Playoffs, second-leg, Houston: Brian Ching scores heart breaking winner in overtime.
Season one, Seattle: Steven Waibel bouncing a ball on Ljungberg’s head.
Season two, Seattle: Keller earns clean sheet, and an assist. In the 64th minute, Keller found Montero for a long punt, which Montero controlled, turned the defender around, and blasted home.
Season two, Houston: Zakuani, on a breakaway last year was tripped up by Houston’s rookie Keeper, Tyler Deric, for what appeared to be a sure penalty-kick. Instead Zakuani was shown yellow for simulation (diving). The last laugh was the surprised look on Deric’s face that Zakuani was carded and not him.
Season three, Seattle: In March Seattle hosted the Dynamo ans served up 26 shots. In the end Seattle only converted one of its many chances to come from behind and salvage a draw.
Heat will play a factor. Overstated, it will be an advantage for Houston. With all of Seattle’s recent success, it is only mid-season. Including tonight’s match, Seattle has 12 league matches, 1 CONCACAF, and 1 US Open Cup match to go. With both CONCACAF and the US Open Cup matches will hopefully be added as they win and advance in those competitions. Packed with many scheduled challenges, Sounders FC also face the potential for an equal amount of reward for overcoming those obstacles. In all, Seattle has the potential to win a Manchester United sized trunk of trophies. Five in all. A take home, Sir Alex Ferguson, would be proud of.
I’ll leave you with one last log. The potential booty the Sounders could plunder.
Cascadia Cup: Beat Vancouver in Vancouver and take it home.
US Open Cup: Defeat FC Dallas at Starfiere in Tukwila on August 30th and play for third consecutive US Open Cup.
CONCACAF Champions League: Defeat San Francisco this Wednesday in Seattle and advance to the CONCACAF group stages. Advance from group stages and laying ahead would be a possible first ever MLS team CONCACAF Champion.
Supporters Shield: Keep winning. Team with best record in MLS regular season play earns top spot in league and takes the Shield.
2011 MLS Cup: Make the playoffs in top six positions, earn bye for first week and go on a late season ride to earn a first ever title.
© 2011 Sales on Sounders by Ryan Sales