When the Sounders started this year, their inaugural season, the first road trip was to Toronto. The team was riding high with opening home wins against New York and Real Salt Lake. Seattle pushed their record to 3-0-0 with a win at Toronto. The future seemed limitless because Seattle didn’t allow a goal in any of these three matches. The team was flying as high as any team ever has in their first season in the MLS.
Lately however, things have gotten tougher for the Sounders. They now sit tied for third place in the Western Conference with Chivas USA, seven points behind the Dynamo and two points behind second-place LA following a 1-1 draw in Houston on Sunday.
Tomorrow afternoon, Toronto comes to Seattle for the first time in the midst of a three game road trip. TFC are also tied for third place in the Eastern Conference with New England, one point ahead of D.C. United and still nine points behind last year’s MLS Champion Columbus. They lost 2-0 against Chivas USA last Saturday.
Seattle will be back at full strength finally after international duties, yellow and red cards, a scoring drought to rival the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and migraine headaches. No player is suspended for cards this match but Freddie Ljungberg and Tyrone Marshall are sitting with one yellow card so collecting one tomorrow will get them a suspension for a game.
Look for Seattle’s starting lineup to be something like this: (4-1-3-2): Kasey Keller in goal, James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado , Tyrone Marshall, Leo Gonzalez on the defensive line – Osvaldo Alonso in the back midfield, Freddie Ljungberg, Brad Evans, Sebastien Le Toux in the forward midfield, Nate Jaqua, Steve Zakuani, or Fredy Montero up front.
The key for Seattle is to score early and hold on. They have yet to score after the 75th minute this season so late match heroics cannot be counted on from this team although they did come back for a draw against Houston in their last match with a 70th minute goal by Nate Jaqua from a Steve Zakuani header.
Toronto will most likely counter with (4-4-2): Stefan Frei in goal, Marvell Wynne, Nana Attakora, Emmanuel Gomez, Adrian Serioux in defense, Dwayne De Rosario, Amado Guevara, Carl Robinson, Sam Cronin in the midfield, and Pablo Vitti, O’Brian White up front.
TFC will come out aggressive, looking to turn around this road trip after dropping to Chivas last match. They managed 13 shots but didn’t force the Chivas keeper Lance Parker to make a save. Look for them to pressure the Seattle defense hard.
This should open up Toronto for the counter attack, something the Sounders thrive on. Look for them to use the speed of Zakuani and height of Jaqua with some long over head passing.
The last time I predicted a win, Seattle crashed and burned badly so I’ll pack away my obviously faulty prognostication skills and say that the Sounders should be able to pull a win from this match because they are at home and they are back at full strength.