Seattle has played Chivas USA twice this season and lost both times by a combined 3-0 score. Will this be the match that the Sounders finally score a goal against Chivas? Will they win? We shall find out Saturday.
In the first meeting on April 18, both teams were 2-0 for an early season clash of the unbeatens. Kasey Keller was out for a red card he received in the previous match. Chris Eylander made his first start but was beaten twice, once in the 32nd minute on an own goal and then in 84th minute by Chukwudi Chijindu on a sliding stab of a cross from Bojan Stepanovic.
In the second meeting on June 6th, Chivas scored the lone goal of the match in the 39th minute. Kasey Keller made a diving save on a shot from Paulo Nagamura but couldn’t control the ball so Eduardo Lillingston was able to tap it into the back of the net.
In both matches, Chivas USA was able to control the ball, keeping Seattle on the defensive. They were also the first team to employ the “Beat Up Fredy Montero” strategy that put him off his game. Montero has shown the ability to overcome that now so it shouldn’t be a factor anymore.
Now both teams are in the playoffs but only separated by a single point. A win for either team impacts the playoff positioning although the tiebreaker would go to Chivas as they have won the season series with Seattle thanks to the two earlier wins.
Starting lineups and bench for Seattle will be (in a 4-1-3-2 formation): Kasey Keller – James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyrone Marshall, Leo Gonzalez – Osvaldo Alonso -, Brad Evans, Freddie Ljungberg, Steve Zakuani – Nate Jaqua, Fredy Montero. Substitutes: Sebastien Le Toux, Patrick Ianni, Peter Vagenas, Roger Levesque, Terry Boss, Zach Scott, Nathan Sturgis, Tyson Wahl
Starting lineup and bench for Chivas USA will be (in a 4-4-2 formation): Zach Thornton – Carey Talley, Jonathan Bornstein, Yamith Cuesta, Jorge Flores – Jesus Padilla, Michael Lahoud, Paulo Nagamura, Sacha Kljestan – Justin Braun, Maicon Santos. Substitutes: Chukwudi Chijindu, Jon Conway, Jesse Marsch, Gerson Mayen, Shavar Thomas, Eduardo Lillingston, Mariano Trujillo
The Sounders are finally back to full strength after losing Ljungberg to reoccurring migraine headaches and a suspension for collecting too many yellow cards. Montero, an early season scoring powerhouse, has found his touch again, scoring his 11th goal of the season in a win against DC United last weekend, a wicked rising blast into the top of the net. Seattle was the first team to beat DC United at home all season. The Sounders have not been a great road team all season, spending four months of the season without a road victory, but they have rebounded and won two of their last three road matches.
Chivas USA dominated New England at home last weekend, winning 2-0. The team had been shutout in the two previous matches and needed to get back on track, Chivas coach Preki shuffled his lineup, going younger with Michael Lahoud, Jose Flores and Justin Braun. The approach paid off so look for it again on Saturday.
Although both teams are not in danger of dropping out of the playoffs, position and potential matchups mean both teams will take this match seriously. I am looking forward to a hard fought, well played match with Seattle’s home team advantage playing a big part.