The Montreal Impact have beaten the Seattle Sounders twice, since joining MLS in 2012. If weather permits, the "Bleu, Blanc et Noir" hope to get their first points of the season against the green monster from Cascadia.
David from Sounder At Heart answers Three Questions to preview the match and give us an insight on what makes this team tick.
Q. Even though the Sounders has kept a core of players throughout the years, the number of transfers and trades has been pretty high. Is this a problem for the chemistry of the team as per continuity? We talk about Clint Dempsey all the time. But what about this guy called Obafemi Martins?
At first I didn't think these were much related, but it re-enforces something unique about this year's team. Neither Clint nor Oba started the season with Seattle last year. In fact of the starters in the first two matches only three players were with the club at the end of 2012. The turnover is massive. But the core leadership is clear and heavy with MLS influences - Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso and Clint Dempsey. The spine also includes two international veterans Obafemi Martins, Djimi Traore, one of the best defenders in league history and Stefan Frei. All but one of those men participated in full in training camp this year. All but one have experience with Sigi Schmid as their head coach.
With that foundation it is evident that there is a ton of turnover, but also that the turnover was careful and designed around a change of systems to maximize the talents those key players. Everything about the attack is to ensure that Oba gets a season like he started last year and that Clint's time in Seattle is glorious. The loss to Toronto showed that the two of them are starting to get used to each other. Both are capable of 10+ goal seasons.
Q. Is this Sigi Schmid's last chance to get the MLS Cup for Seattle? Can he survive the whole season if the team does not perform as well as it should be?
This is his last year under contract so there could be a touch more pressure on him. Even if there isn't for that reason the expectations in Seattle never go down. The minimum is for the team to make the Playoffs, but the desire is clear - silverware. He could still get a new contract without a trophy, but it is doubtful if a collapse like last year happens.
The Sounders FC leadership does not make results based decisions. Hanauer and Roth are process driven people. So if they do not renew Sigi it is because they've decided his processes no longer work, not because of losses.
Q. I always found the Sounders' defense to a bit overrated. It's not that it's missing talent but I am not convinced that it's as fool-proof as the team likes to play such an offensive brand of soccer. Am I totally wrong?
Last year's defense was right at the top of the year (by goals against) up until the eggs were laid against Vancouver and Colorado. The structure is pretty simple. Don't let teams penetrate through the midfield. In 2014 teams are averaging just 2.01 passes per possession against Seattle. You can't go through a space that is manned by Alonso. You must go over it or around it. Going over puts the ball into Chad Marshall.
There may be MLS forwards who can come out ahead in those duels. I don't know who they are. Pushing out wide a team faces the incredible speed and underrated tackling of DeAndre Yedlin. The other flank is either manned by last year's Sounders team Defender of the Year (and SaH Defensive Player of Year) Leo Gonzalez or Dylan Remick, who is clearly the weak link. So if you want to attack the Rave Green the best route is through the right.
Significant Absences: As of this writing (Thursday at 9:27 AM Pacific) Dempsey is available. He may wind up suspended. Chad Marshall and Brad Evans are both questionable, but likely to travel.
Projected Lineup (working that all are healthy and able to play): Frei; Gonzalez, Traore, Marshall, Yedlin; Alonso, Evans; Neagle, Dempsey, Pappa; Martins
You can read my uni-lingual answers to David answers right here.