Clash of Titans! Sounders Can ‘Streak’ All the Way to Shield
by Brandon Farris
On Sunday the top of East New York Red Bulls and top of the West Seattle Sounders will face off at CenturyLink Field in a clash of titans to try and take control of its destiny for the MLS Supporters shield with the winner coming out in the lead.
The Sounders, coming fresh off of a 1-1 draw against the LA Galaxy in LA will look to continue it run of good form at home where the team has not lost a match since its season opener back in March boasting an impressive 13 match unbeaten streak since then.
The Red Bulls will be looking to snap that streak of Seattle’s following the team’s 1-Nil win last weekend over FC Dallas. One goal has been the story for the Sounders, in the six match unbeaten streak that the team is on, they have only scored more than one goal once and that was against RSL.
In the Fire match they did get two goals but it was an own goal that gave them two. In those six matches the team has never given up more than one goal including four Michael Gspurning clean sheets which has bolstered his total to ten clean sheets on the season.
Several big names are listed as questionable for Seattle this weekend.
Eddie Johnson who is coming off of a shoulder injury suffered last week will be expected to start from the sounds of things. Clint Dempsey, missed last weekend after suffering a late practice injury with his hamstring, has had limited participation this week in the team’s practices but it is expected that he will participate in this morning’s practice session. He will likely come off of the bench if he plays at all in this match.
Leo Gonzalez who is coming off of a solid performance this past weekend against LA is listed as questionable and likely to sit out this weekend with a groin injury .He hasn’t practiced all week. If Gonzalez does in fact not make the start, that just makes the red card that Zach Scott picked up last weekend even more crucial for the back line of the Sounders.
To replace Scott and Gonzalez we should see the well weathered Patrick Ianni get his 6th start of the season along with Djimi Traore who missed last weekend’s battle royale with an injury.
The other streak for Seattle is the team’s 47 match unbeaten streak when they score first, resulting in 38 wins and 9 ties. The buzz around Seattle about the Sounders right now is pretty impressive given that both the NFL Seattle Seahawks and college football are back in full swing.
Typically casual fan interest takes a dip this time of the year. However with the Sounders’ solid run this late in the season could possibly bring the first league championship back to the city since the Seattle Storm won the WNBA championship in 2010 and the now defunct NBA Seattle SuperSonics brought the only mens major championship to the city in 1979.
Attendance is expected to remain around 40,000 a match at least along with another full open stadium against the Galaxy in a few weeks.
For the Red Bulls they will be without Connor Lade, Roy Miller, Heath Pearce, and Bradley Wright-Phillips. More importantly New York head coach Mike Petke confirmed on Friday that despite practicing this week, Jamison Olave and Thierry Henry will not be making the trip to Seattle due to concern over the field turf.
Expectations will be high on Sunday for the Sounders who will always remember the NY Red Bull as being the first team they ever faced in MLS. That night in the 11th minute, Freddy Montero sent the ball past the goalkeeper to give the franchise its first ever goal and taste of wining.
Since then the Red Bulls have only won once in the three times they have visited CentryLink Field having been outscored 7-3. If Seattle wins the match they will control their own destiny for the Supporters Shield.
In addition, if ChivasUSA can beat the San Jose Earthquakes and FC Dallas loses to a recently hot Columbus Crew, the Sounders will be locked into the playoffs. If the home side lose, they will then fall four points behind the Red Bulls but will still have two matches in hand. With wins they could still swing six points and retake the lead in dramatic fashion by two.
The challenge for Seattle is going to come in two weeks when they are likely to lost Dempsey, Johnson and Brad Evans once again to National Team duties against Jamaica and Panama in two important World Cup Qualifier matches. That said, so are others with LA Galaxy likely to shed multiple internationals.
Brandon’s Prediction- Seattle will continue its winning ways at home, though it won’t be easy with the back line missing two of its defenders who have been on fire, but outcome will be 3-1.
Johnson will continue his heading ways. Evans will repeat the feat of Sounders MLS life opener and Obafemi Martins will get his 9th goal of the season. For the Red Bulls it’ll be Sounders old nemesis Fabian Espindola getting the score and his 9th goal of the season.