Chivas USA are playing another Cascadia team this week, and this time it's the Seattle Sounders. The Sounders got a win last week, with Clint Dempsey scoring two more goals in the win over FC Dallas, meaning he's scored five goals in two weeks. It looks like things are starting to click for Seattle, though there are always concerns surrounding the high standards at that team. In order to get ready for the game, let's welcome back Dave Clark of SB Nation's Sounders blog Sounder At Heart, who answered my questions. Thanks to him, as always, for taking the time to answer these!
The Goat Parade asks Sounder At Heart:
1. So, Clint Dempsey has started scoring, and now it seems he can't stop. What's changed for the DP in recent weeks?
Last Fall he played really well, but didn't score. His talent was clear. Boxscore things just didn't happen for him. He had some injuries and re-adjusting to the travel demands of MLS put him just a touch off as well. Then he struggled mightily at awful Fulham. The failures there were real and clouded the nation's impression of what happened in 2013. A two-month slump converted to a narrative about how he was finished.
When he came back from Fulham things were clearly different. Clint's energy level was up and he had a full bill of health. He had his classic swagger and attitude (probably cost him two games) and he scored goals -- beautiful goals. Working dynamically with Obafemi Martins, Dempsey is free to score from range or in the six. Gone as well is the idea that Dempsey needs to be a central creator. He is free to roam and flash into space. He works a 1-2 as well as anyone this league has seen in its short history.
So what's changed? He's not at Fulham and he's still the Captain of our ship.
2. The Sounders made some significant changes to their defense, to mixed results. What has gone right, and what hasn't?
Like most teams the goals scored against Seattle can easily be pushed aside as anomalies. There were two penalties, both for silly fouls that weren't necessary. Three of Portland's goals against were up for Goal of the Week with two of those being in a space that is normally covered but was left open. Toronto's two goals against were due to a mistaken pass and a bad challenge from Pappa. The list goes on.
What's working is that teams are not going to win the ball in the air against the centerbacks. Chad Marshall alone assures that. Djimi Traore is just a bonus. There's also great recovery speed from DeAndre Yedlin, which is being used a bit too much lately. Because what's not working is the coverage of two spaces - the space between Marshall/Traore & Osvaldo Alonso and the space behind Yedlin. Those are real issues that good teams are exploiting.
3. Many saw the Sounders' acquisition of Marco Pappa as a coup, but his impact has been minimal. Why is that?
The aforementioned mistakes against Toronto sent Pappa to Reserve team purgatory. Only recently has he earned his way back to the pitch as a sub. His errors seem to be related to an unfamiliarity with playing (considering how little he played the last two years that may not be a surprise). He's relearning the league and taking him a bit of time to do so. The issues he has seem to be with the pace of play. If his only role is as an impact sub rather than a starter the last two matches show that he will be one of the greatest impact subs of all time. With Pappa on the pitch as a sub against Portland and Dallas, Sounders FC has a +4 goal differential and went from losing both games to taking four points on the road.
4. (Bonus) Prediction for this match?
I think Seattle is good for two to four goals while Chivas USA only gets one to three. This is a way of me saying a few things. I hate predictions. I think lots of goals will be scored. I think Sounders FC are the favorites. Do not play a defensive player on either side in this week's fantasy team (I have Yedlin and Kennedy because I'm dumb).
Projected Lineup: Frei; Gonzalez, Traore, Marshall, Yedlin; Pineda, Alonso; Neagle, Dempsey, Cooper; Martins
Check out my answers to his questions here.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!