Week 3 of MLS 2017 sends the New York Red Bulls back to the West Coast to help with Seattle Sounders home opener. CenturyLink Field is expected to be loud and full as Sounders' fans greet their team as the defending MLS Cup champion for the first time.
Dave Clark from Sounder At Heart stopped by to fill us in on what to expect from Seattle on Sunday, March 19. Catch Once A Metro's view on RBNY over at SaH.
Once A Metro: Slow start to 2017 in Seattle, but any real cause for concern based on what you've seen these last two weeks? What are the Sounders trying to be this year, and how close to that do you think they will be on Sunday?
Sounder At Heart: There's not much to be too worried about, aside from the penchant for falling behind. Last week's scoreline was a little deceiving in that the goals were more the product of momentary lapses than any kind of structural issues and the offense has looked very potent for the past 135 minutes or so. This is a team that wants to play fast and pretty and will likely look closer to that at Sunday than they have on the road.
Schmetzer is clearly aggressive. He desires for a game with rapid transitions, flow and trust in a defensive pentagon (K, CBs, DMs) that supports the fullbacks getting into the attack with three of the best offensive options in the league. It's a fun structure, but obviously can break down. There will be an intermittent high-press used when Lodeiro thinks that the defense needs to reset. He and the non-Dempsey attacking options will then chase while Dempsey drops deep to provide defensive support.
This is not the grind it out team that won MLS Cup. That team didn't have Clint Dempsey. This team does. It's taking a bit to get on the same page, but the expectation is that they set themselves up in an attempt to repeat.
OaM: Is it a big deal that Roman Torres won't be playing this game?
SaH: Torres is a bit of a wild card lately. He gets forward nearly as much as the defensive midfielders, makes a few defensive mistakes and hasn't seemed himself. It may be good for him to sit. Still, he's a good center-back in general. This may give him a necessary reset/reboot.
Replacing him is impossible. Torres is a difference-maker. Seattle will have to deal with starting Swedish CDM/CB/RB Gustav Svensson or NCAA D-II produce Tony Alfaro instead. That's a large fall in talent. Both of Roman's replacements might be better passers than he is. If there's a game where the Sounders need strong passing from the defense, it's this one.
OaM: What's it like to win MLS Cup? - asking for a friend.
I don't know how it is for other people. I know how it is for me. It's wonderful. I cannot stop writing dumb poetry
and hype pieces
about it. The team continues to find ways to have the Cup at various events. Mix-a-Lot brought it on stage at the Men in Blazers event. It's been to Olympia, on a ferry, to a Seahawks game, corporate events, parties, bars, whatever.
Plus, we get a star on everything. Men's kits, women's kits, kids' kits - it doesn't matter. Everyone gets a star
, if they want it. We want it.
It happened with great people too. Brian Schmetzer lives and breathes the Seattle Sounders. It's been true his entire life. He is genuinely good. He cares for people, whether they are fans, media, players, fellow coaches. He showers praise, handshakes and hugs on others while he tries to convince us all that he had nothing to do with winning it all. But he did (not to say that many others didn't contribute). Schmetz did it for his hometown. Every day he is trying to build that loyalty throughout the organization. Some teams have a cultural built around tactics, others around their academy, a few look to their history for their culture. Brian Schmetzer is making the Sounders culture be built around us, blue skies, green seas, a 14,000 foot snow capped volcano and the cities nestled around Puget Sound. It comes off a bit provincial, but being people of the Puget Sound is what makes a Sounder.
Predicted Sounders Starting XI:
4-2-3-1: Stefan Frei; Joevin Jones, Chad Marshall, Gustav Svensson, Oniel Fisher; Osvaldo Alonso, Christian Roldan; Harry Shipp, Clint Dempsey, Nicolas Lodeiro; Jordan Morris
3-0, I'm a fan of the symmetry of this one. No other season opener will be as loud or vibrant as this match. The raising of the banner, the carrying of MLS Cup in the March to the Match by former captain Brad Evans, the 30-foot replica MLS Cup in the South Concourse, all of that. Plus, there's talent ready to explode. Jordan Morris should have goals already. Clint and Nico round out the three-headed leviathan. That's a strong attack. Seattle's defense has been decent so far. It's time to win again.
Many thanks to Dave Clark of Sounder At Heart. The match kicks off at 7:00 pm, Eastern, on Sunday, March 19. Watch on FS1.