It is a road trip with gargantuan implications. Two of the league’s most imposing atmospheres, two of America’s most iconic soccer brands and, for the purposes of this column, two fixtures that have not taken place since the Jesse Marsch era.
On Sunday, Chris Armas and New York will face Seattle for the first time since June 13, 2018, a match in which U.S. national team great Clint Dempsey (since retired) came on in vain for the Sounders, and Ethan Kutler (since released) delivered the game-winning assist for the Red Bulls.
Considering the ample passage of time, Sounder At Heart reached out to ask a few questions, and were kind enough to return the favor:
Once A Metro: Seattle boasts an attacking force of Nicolas Lodeiro, Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan and Raul Ruidiaz. On paper, it’s devastating, but 46 goals scored isn’t a terrifying number. Is the good-but-not-great number just because players are constantly away with their national teams? Has this been as scary a front line as it looks on paper when everyone is available?
Sounder At Heart: The story of the Sounders’ season has been their inability to get all of their good players on the field at once. Whether that’s because of international call ups or injuries or suspensions or a dangerous cocktail of all of the above. That goes for their forward attacking line. You can add Victor Rodriguez into that group as well, but he’s just never healthy. When they all play together, they’re devastating. I mean, just look at the goals they scored against the Galaxy a couple weeks ago to see what they’re capable of doing. It’s a shame that this season hasn’t really displayed that consistently, but hopefully they can get it together before the playoffs.
OaM: Here in New York, fans have rued the loss of a midfield general in Tyler Adams. With that said, the Red Bulls are also known for letting go of aging players too early to avoid keeping them too late. Seattle decided it was time to part ways with a club legend in Osvaldo Alonso. What is the assessment of that move almost a year out?
SaH: Life is full of contradictions, so please let me contradict myself for a moment. ... The Sounders miss Ozzie Alonso while also not missing him very much at all. I think the Sounders miss Ozzie’s presence the most, while not really missing his contributions to actual, tangible things on the field all that much. I do not think the Sounders would be any better statistically than they are now if they still had Ozzie, but I think a couple of games would’ve gone better with Ozzie’s leadership had he still been on the team. I don’t tend to try to quantify the unquantifiable, but that’s what I think about Ozzie.
Now...if you wanted to talk about Chad Marshall, that’s a different story completely.
OaM: The Western Conference is more crowded from second to eighth place than Penn Station on a Friday afternoon. Any idea who the second-best team in the West is, and where the Sounders might finish?
SaH: What’s Penn Station??? Is that one of those fancy public transportation things you people tell me about? Must be nice to have.
OaM: Oh, Mark, if only.
SaH: So, I think Real Salt Lake, San Jose, and Seattle all have a claim at the “second-best team in the West” moniker. I’m obviously a Sounders fan, so I will tell you why they’re the second-best team instead of being boring and courteous. On their day, I think the Sounders have the talent to stack up with just about anyone in the league and can beat any team in the league. I’ve already talked about the problem of the Sounders not being able to do that this season, but all bets are off come the playoffs. The Sounders should be healthy from here on out and can use the rest of the regular season to show the league they can be scary in the postseason, and that should start this Sunday with a convincing win against the Red Bulls.