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The Montreal Impact host the Seattle Sounders: Three Questions with Dave Clark of Sounder at Heart

Mauro Rosales and Fredy Montero are 2 players to watch for as fans of the beautiful game.
Mauro Rosales and Fredy Montero are 2 players to watch for as fans of the beautiful game.

The Montreal Impact are finally coming back home at Stade Saputo and what better way to open up the renovated stadium (or is it?) against the mighty Seattle Sounders of the west, from the Land Of Cascadia. We are joined by Dave Clark of Sounder At Heart as we ask him some hard questions. In return, he asks me some easy questions being an expansion blog and all (they are so nice, them Western people).

1 - The Montreal Impact has shown to be strong or at least aggressive and proud of its midfield with Warner, Felipe and Bernier. The Sounders are known to be strong on the sides, Do you anticipate one midfield overrunning the other?

Dave Clark (Sounder at Heart):

Seattle's central midfield is primarily defensive in nature. When a Sounder pops into that space at the top of the box it will be Montero dropping back, a secondary run from Evans or Alonso or one of the wing players tucking into the middle. This should mean that they will own the defensive center through the combined efforts of Brad Evans and Osvaldo Alonso. After winning the ball expect the ball to move quickly to the outside. If Montreal tries to stack that middle Mauro Rosales and Alvaro Fernandez should have the advantage. Plus Seattle's midfield band of four has a full season together at this point. Though they haven't had a run in 2012 they know each other's' preferences and spacing. The advantage should be to the veteran side with low turnover.

2 - With the latest news of Estrada being out for a few months and obviously not playing against Montreal, what will be missed from Estrada absence and is his replacement capable of doing the job, even for one game?

Dave Clark (Sounder at Heart):

This question actually inspired a full post over at SaH. David Estrada has a ton of starts, but isn't a starter. He's basically the best of the attacking bench players and the Seattle Sounders have had a least one of their attackers out of every single match. Against the Union this weekend it means that he will not be the first off the bench providing speed, aggressive high pressure and willingness to shoot in tight spaces. Seattle will actually get those skills from a variety of players. Depending on what's needed Sigi could go to Cordell Cato (young, speedy, low-crossing right winger), Alex Caseky (technical, long distance shooter, better tucking from left), Sammy Ochoa (big, decent back to goal, target forward) or Roger Levesque (energetic veteran with strong defense for an attacker). This is the match when Estrada will be missed the least. The rest of June gets much more complex.

3 - A lot is talked about the firepower of the Sounders and the team’s strong defensive performances, if you had to describe the soccer philosophy behind it, how you would describe it? Are we talking about a sum of lessons learned and trials since its expansion year or a well-planned roadmap that is bearing fruits now?

Dave Clark (Sounder at Heart):

Sigi's system involves quick pressure after turnovers that then transition to the attack. From the defense this is primarily done through reading the pass, not tackling (except for Alonso, he takes what he wants however he needs to). Jeff Parke is probably the best example of this. There are many centerbacks bigger and/or faster than he is, and yet Parke is good. His recent United States National Team look is an example of his level. He isn't the greatest, but how he reads the game as a defender is better than almost any in MLS. He is a bit prone to playing an over-the-top long ball too often.

Offensively Seattle plays aggressively. The preference for crosses into a big man who would set-up space for Fredy Montero is well known at this point, but they can also create through multi-dimensional passes by Fernandez, Rosales and Montero. Eddie Johnson is still working into that method. He has the technical ability, it's really just a matter of getting in tune with players he didn't meet until well into training camp.

Schmid used this system from day one and it worked. From there he's tweaked a little bit. Most of the changes have come through the players brought in or lost, not in his fundamental system. Sure, he's added micro-tactics, but in many ways Seattle plays like Columbus did. Here though, there is more interchanging between the attacking players and the solid anchor of Alonso.

Projected lineup:

442/4231 hybrid - Meredith; Burch, Hurtado, Parke, Scott; Rose; Fernandez, Evans, Rosales; Montero; Johnson

Read my answers to Sounder at Heart here.