In Part I we asked Dave Clark of SB Nation's Seattle blog, Sounder at Heart, to break down the Sounders' season to this point. In Part II we ask more specifically about Sunday's game at CenturyLink Field.
Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson are all expected to be available for Sunday's game. How will Sigi Schmid use the trio and will any of them feel slighted at the end of the game?
I expect that Martins and Johnson will be traditional forwards while Dempsey occupies a space similar to that which a traditional central attacking midfielder would use. But, he's Dempsey. He'll be expected to score from there. Martins can drop back and switch. Johnson and Dempsey can go wide as well. The real key in this inverted 4-3-3 will be how the wide midfielders play. Mauro Rosales seems to be left out while Brad Evans, Shalrie Joseph and Osvaldo Alonso play in the middle.
Despite only losing once since mid-July, there is a sense that the Sounders aren't playing very well at the moment. Do you expect a resurgent performance or will the sluggish play of the past few weeks continue against Portland?
Sloppy road points are still road points. Seattle at home is a very different beast. It is a beast with many heads and averaging double BoomBoom per match. The Sounders' only home loss this year is to Montreal on a wonder goal. They aren't the split personality of last year's Timbers, but they are merely average on the road while being pretty great at CenturyLink Field. Only LA Galaxy have a better goal difference at home. There's no reason to think the Sounders of the Toronto FC/Houston Dynamo matches will show up for this one.
Of the non-extremely famous players on the roster, which Seattle player is most likely to have an impact against the Timbers on Sunday night?
Let's say I'm really intrigued by how Leo Gonzalez plays against Darlington Nagbe. Leo's had a strong year, but Nagbe is a fairly unique profile in MLS with height, muscle, speed and good ball skills. That's a handful for any left back in the league. Gonzalez is going to be tested. How he does may define the match. Which is kind of funny considering the fame of the rest of the roster.
Any injuries or suspension worth noting?
Steve Zakuani (sports hernia)
Bonus: Predicted starting XI:
Michael Gspurning; Leo Gonzalez, Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, DeAndre Yedlin; Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Shalrie Joseph, Clint Dempsey; Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins