Three Questions is back! This week, Chivas USA are playing the Seattle Sounders at home, and in order to get us ready for the game, I spoke with Dave Clark of SB Nation blog Sounder At Heart to discuss this week's opponent. The Sounders have endured a tough week, so if you hear some pain coming through in the answers, let me tell you, spirits are low on both sides heading into this match, for very different reasons. Still, the game will probably boost one fanbase. Big thanks to Dave for taking the time to answer my questions!
1. The Sounders struggled coming out of the gate, and have been one of the most inconsistent teams this season. They struggled with injuries early in the season, but even with most of the team back and available, the Sounders appear to be missing a player or two who could get the team on a regular run. Am I reading this right? And is there somebody on the roster who can indeed get the group going for a sustained period?
Seattle has struggled through injuries and call-ups. The recent six match unbeaten run they still dealt with those things, but were both fortunate and clicking. Part of that was the quality of Servando Carrasco filling in for Osvaldo Alonso. Lamar Neagle filled in well (more on him later). They played a kind of asymmetric midfield that improved the defense and didn't hurt the offense. Obafemi Martins is now starting. He's not the captain, but he's the Sounders' attempt at a Robbie Keane type. He's got to do it as a finishing-only forward. But he's been through things. He was on a crappy Birmingham City team that rallied to win the League Cup in the same season they were relegated.
Seattle needs to do kind of the opposite and get on a run by any means necessary. They will be without Eddie Johnson, Brad Evans, Shalrie Joseph and Steve Zakuani this weekend. Depth will continue to be tested. Rather than lay a St. Petersburg-sized egg they need to do like they did against Dallas and San Jose: eight goals for and only two against. This is a team capable of being great. They looked it for a bit. They need to act like it again.
2. This is the first year in some time when Seattle won't have to deal with fixture congestion through the latter two-thirds of the season. Although I can imagine there is disappointment regarding the U.S. Open Cup and Champions League, is this a blessing in disguise for a team hoping to really make a run at MLS Cup?
One can only hope. Otherwise it is going to suck even worse. Last year was a good year, but there were no trophies. A mediocre year with no trophies will be even harder to take. But this is the only spin that can be offered. Sigi's offering it. Sounder at Heart commenters are clinging to it. It probably has no relationship with reality. It just sucks to be out of the running for two non-MLS trophies already. There's no way to fix that. There's two major trophies left. Seattle is nearly out of the Supporters' Shield already. Focus is a funny thing, but it isn't the answer to every failure by a team.
3. With Eddie Johnson currently away from the team with the USMNT, which player or players are filling the void in the attack?
The forwards will be Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle. It means more of a speed based attack and a reduction of effectiveness on crosses and set-plays, but those two can still finish. Oba's goals so far are mainly poached, but he's a pretty poacher if that makes sense. Neagle earned his starts and has burst out with strong performances and finishing back during that three match winning streak that feels like months ago. This is probably the best year to lose a player of EJ's quality as Neagle is at the least a quality third forward.
4. Prediction for this match?
It's either going to be a blow out one way or the other. The Goats have that whole rally-together-after-the-coach-got-fired thing and the Sounders have that whole "crap we've only got one chance left" thing. It's a cowardly answer, but the confidence disappeared this week.
You can find my answers to Dave's questions here.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!