10things_SEA

10 things on Seattle Sounders FC

Finally, soccer has come back to Montreal! The Impact plays its home opener this Saturday at 7pm at Olympic Stadium against the reigning, defending, undisputed MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders FC (TICKETS – TVA Sports, 98,5fm & TSN Radio 690). Here are 10 things to know about the Impact’s first home opponent this season.

Context

They were sitting in ninth place in the Western Conference when then-head coach Sigi Schmid lost his job on July 26, 2016, but the Sounders pulled themselves back up, reaching fourth place in the Conference before making it to MLS Cup, where they defeated Toronto FC at home on penalties. Seattle’s first title was all the more improbable given that USMNT star Clint Dempsey was dealing with an irregular heartbeat and couldn’t be part of this historic journey. The Sounders didn’t look much like a championship team in their season opener, a 2-1 loss at Houston, but Dempsey returned to the field – and scored.

Current form (preseason and regular season)

D-L-D-L-L-L

Head coach

Brian Schmetzer (8-3-4 all-time as Seattle Sounders FC head coach in MLS) became first team interim head coach on July 26, 2016, with the ‘interim’ tag removed on November 2, 2016. The Seattle-born Schmetzer played many seasons in midfield for hometown clubs as well as in Tulsa, San Diego, Tacoma and St. Louis. After a playing career during which he won three championships, Schmetzer became full-time Sounders head coach – then in the North American second division – in 2002. Over seven seasons on the bench, he posted a 100-57-41 record and won two USL championships, two Commissioner’s Cups (as regular-season champion) and one Coach of the Year award. He became Sounders assistant coach on December 22, 2008, prior to the club’s inaugural MLS season. Schmetzer won one Supporters Shield and four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups as assistant coach.

Current top scorer

Clint Dempsey (1)

Players to watch

1. Jordan Morris (#13) – This young American knows how to sneak into the penalty area, and he can score with both feet and with his head.

2. Nicolás Lodeiro (#10) – This man helped turn the Sounders’ season around. The Uruguayan takes initiative in the final third, and it usually bears fruit.

3. Chad Marshall (#14) – Simply put, he’s a colossal presence in his own area.

Team profile

Here is what Impact Media wrote on March 30, 2016: “The Sounders have dropped their two-forward system and given a lone striker role to Nelson Valdez, who works his hardest but touches too few balls. On the flip side, Clint Dempsey, Andreas Ivanschitz and even Jordan Morris often end up in central positions to try passing combinations – or to support Valdez in the penalty area, given that Seattle full backs cross the ball plenty. Incidentally, Osvaldo Alonso is particularly adept when it comes to spraying the ball wide to one of the full backs, sometimes dropping between the centre backs to play that ball. When in possession, Seattle defenders are happy to play the ball amongst themselves for a bit before speeding the play up with a long ball – and if Valdez flicks that ball on, a fine opportunity can pop up in behind. Defensively, centre back Chad Marshall remains assertive in the air, but the Sounders defence is vulnerable to pace. Set plays are also a problem early on this season; Seattle has already conceded four goals in such situations (two of which were penalty kicks).”

In 2016:

Shots on target*

Goals scored from inside the penalty area

Goals scored from outside the penalty area

Goals scored on headers

11th (153)

17th (34)

1st (10)

5th (9)

Possession (%)

Big chance conversion (%)

Successful passes in attacking third (%)

Duels won (%)

6th (53%)

18th (40%)

2nd (68%)

8th (50.9%)

*Source for all data is Opta

Tactical formation

The champions have carried on playing 4-2-3-1 in 2017. Lineup v Houston (March 4): Frei; Svensson, Torres, Marshall, Jones; Alonso, Roldan; Fernández, Dempsey, Lodeiro; Morris.

Against the Impact last season

The Sounders hosted the Impact for the only game between the two teams in 2016, on April 2. Defeated in their first three games of the season – two of which were at home –, the locals managed to pick up three points this time, through a late Clint Dempsey goal on a corner kick in the 79th minute.

Injuries (as of March 8)

D Brad Evans (calf)
M Aaron Kovar (groin)

Next games

Seattle Sounders FC v New York Red Bulls (MLS, March 19)
Seattle Sounders FC v Atlanta United FC (MLS, March 31)
San Jose Earthquakes v Seattle Sounders FC (MLS, April 8)

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