by Kyle Alm
Sounders have been getting the results that they need.
Even if Clint Dempsey looked like a player playing his first match with new teammates in Toronto, there is no denying that Sounders are poised to claim a playoff spot in the MLS Western Conference with the second highest points-per-game (PPG) in the West, third highest overall in MLS.
Most people expected Dempsey to get some playing time against Toronto, mopping up.
No one expected that Obafemi Martins would take a knock to his ankle and be unable to continue the match in the first half.
Eddie Johnson picking up a yellow card isn’t quite as unlikely, but it creates a new roster dilemma for Sigi Schmid for facing Houston.
There has been much said about Sounders run of form at home and their unbeaten streak. Don’t forget though that Houston, had a 36 match unbeaten streak at home in all competitions, dating back to 2011.
Oba Martins may miss the match with the injury he picked up in Toronto, Eddie Johnson will be suspended for yellow card accumulation but at least he will be back for Portland.
Dempsey had an opportunity to score early, and received a couple of hard fouls in his return to MLS. There was no goal, no assist, but there was no need. There is going to be slightly more pressure falling on the Texan’s shoulders when Sounders face the Dynamo, especially if Martins is unable to participate. It’s amazing how fast you can from a log jam up top, to being thin at that position.
It’s a home debut of sorts for the native of Nacogdoches Texas, and Dempsey should be up for the challenge. A new week and a new roster dilemma for Sigi Schmid.
Sounders first date with Dempsey was polite, no expectations. The second in Houston brings slightly more pressure to perform, but with the big date is Portland in Seattle with a sold-out crowd in the neighborhood of 68,000 fans.
There is always a risk of looking past opponents when there is a big fixture like that on the schedule.
Sounders may be in good position in the table, but they can’t afford to drop points in Houston because they were thinking ahead to Portland.
Houston Dynamo are a good side, are very tough at home, have dangerous players, and maybe just maybe will harbor their own bad feelings about their own Dempsey rumors.
They may also retain some aggrieved feeling after falling to Real Salt Lake on a very very soft penalty call.
For most of the game, they matched the league’s current best side blow for blow but have now fallen sufficiently low in the Eastern Conference to be dangerous and maybe a little desperate.
Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson have been called up to the US National Team for a match in Bosnia meaning Evans’ availability for Saturday is probably unlikely. Sammy Ochoa has gone so it may be a case of Lamar Neagle and David Estrada competing to play with Dempsey up front.
Sounders have yet to win in Houston in MLS life. In fact this is a fixture that is yet to produce an away win in Major League Soccer for either side.
Sounders may be happy to leave with a point and a fit squad.
You see how hard it is not to look forward?