Playoff positioning vs. trying to squeak into the playoffs
After earning a draw while playing a man down on Wednesday, the Sounders hold their playoff destiny in their hands. If they win the final 2 matches in the 2012 campaign, they’ll finish with only the San Jose Earthquakes ahead of them in the Western Conference.
Sunday’s matchup with mid-table FC Dallas will be the easier of the two matches remaining. Next week the team travels to Los Angeles to close out the season against the Galaxy.
Kickoff: 6:00PM PST CenturyLink Field
SEA: 14-7-11 (10-4-2 H)
DAL: 9-12-11 (3-9-4 V)
Seattle and Dallas have faced off 2 times so far this year, both times away from the comfortable confines of CenturyLink Field. The Sounders bagged 4 out of 6 points available from those matches, nothing to frown about when playing on the road.
This match will be different. FC Dallas will know if they still have a glimmer of hope to reach the playoffs by the time the match kicks off (If Vancouver beats Portland earlier in the day the Texan’s playoff hopes are dead). This means Seattle could face 2 drastically different teams, one fanatically motivated to make a last ditch effort to get to the playoffs. the other with no goals left to attain in 2012. All of this underscores Seattle’s need to focus on it’s own play, not the other team.
Too little too late. Unless the Vancouver Whitecaps inexplicably fall to the dismal Portland Timbers on Sunday, these 4 words will sum up FC Dallas’ season. No one thought they were as bad as they played in the 1st half of 2012. Turns out they weren’t. They’ve improved in the final months of the season, but it hasn’t been enough.
Injuries and suspensions will be a big problem for Dallas on Sunday. 3 of the top 4 players for the hoops (so named for the red and white horizontal stripes on their jerseys) will be missing. Defensive stalwart George John and dynamic midfielder Brek Shea will both be missing due to injury. Julian de Guzman will be out for a yellow card accumulation. That leaves just David Ferreira to lead the squad.
Veteran Daniel Hernandez will step in to fill the hole left in defensive midfield by the suspended De Guzman. His sharpness will be tested by the efficient and deadly accurate passing of Christian Tiffert.
Seattle Sounders FC
Defensive questions loom leading up to this match. Sure, Brad Evans played the roll of center back to perfection against Real Salt Lake, but there’s no way to assume, after a 60 minute sample size, he can hold down the fort next to Jeff Parke for the foreseeable future. He might have to though. Patrick Ianni is out and John Kennedy Hurtado’s ability to play with a mask is in question.
The outside back positions will be stronger than they were midweek due to the return of Adam Johansson from international duty. Despite this, Johansson is more of an offensive weapon than a defender. He’ll need to put in a strong shift defensively during this match to help extend the team’s shutout streak.
If the defense holds, the offense should be ready to resume it’s scoring ways. Once again, it’s the Fredy and Eddie show up front. Grab some popcorn and take a seat.
Matchup to watch: Eddie Johnson vs. Dallas Center Backs
You could tell on Wednesday that this Sounders FC club is motivated to finish as high up in the table as possible. They’ll carry that motivation into the Dallas match.
If Vancouver beats Portland, and Dallas is knocked out of the playoffs before the match starts, this could turn into a romp.
Seattle Sounders FC 3 – FC Dallas 0
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