The Sounders FC leave the friendly confines of Qwest Field in Seattle for their first MLS road trip. First stop, the Toronto FC’s home opener. Toronto was the last new team in the MLS before Seattle and their fans are much like Seattle’s: Loud, proud, and raucous. It should make a good first test for the young Sounders.
Toronto started their season on the road in Kansas City. There the visitors took a 3-2 victory thanks to a brace of goals from midfielder Amado Guevara. Last week in Columbus against the Crew, Toronto was missing a few players, including Guevara, due to international duties. They were still able to eke out a 1-1 draw late in the match thanks to an own goal on Columbus goalkeeper William Hesmer. With the international players back, expect Toronto FC to be back at their full attacking strength.
On the defensive side, they may be missing starting rookie GK Stefan Frei due to a hip injury suffered making a save in the first half against Columbus. His replacement, Greg Sutton, is a more than adequate replacement.
For Seattle, the big news is the possibility that MLS Player of the Week last week and March’s MLS Player of the Month Fredy Montero may miss the match due to illness. He did not fly with the team to Toronto but the coaches are hopeful that he will be well enough to join them there later. If Montero does not play, it will put a strain on the front line of Seattle since they are trying to limit Steve Zakuani’s minutes. He was out with hamstring problems in the preseason and is now playing his way into shape. Zakuani came out against Real Salt Lake for Freddy Ljungberg, another player they are trying to slowly work back into shape. It will be a challenge for head coach Sigi Schmid to juggle the lineup.
The defense will be unchanged from the first two matches. That includes current MLS Player of the Week, goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who came off an incredible performance against RSL to keep them off the scoreboard.
Another positive for Seattle is that veteran defender Tyrone Marshall played for Toronto FC last season. He is a leader on the team and should be able to have the team ready for the chaos that awaits them in BMO Field on Saturday.
Not that the Sounders haven’t played in a riotous atmosphere previously or anything. It’s just the first time the cheers have been for the other team.