It may not have been the result that Seattle Sounders FC were hoping for on Sunday night, but there were some positives to be taken from their regular season finale against Los Angeles Galaxy.
Seattle created numerous scoring opportunities in the first half which were a direct result of manager Sigi Schmid‘s tactical lineup utilizing star Clint Dempsey in the role that he likes to play. Schmid played a diamond midfield setup with Dempsey at the top, Brad Evans and Adam Moffat on the wings and Osvaldo Alonso playing the holding role. This tactical setup allowed Dempsey to play right behind the strikers and pick up any garbage balls that would hang loose at the top of the 18-yard box. It also allowed for Dempsey, Eddie Johnson and Lamar Neagle to switch positions more quickly and keep the Galaxy defense guessing as to who was covering what ground.
Seattle’s biggest problem coming into this match is still the uncertainty of the goalkeeping situation. Michael Gspurning looked very indecisive coming off of his line on corner kicks. As a goalkeeper, he needs to be aggressive and attack any ball that is in or just outside of his six-yard box. That indecision led to Omar Gonzalez getting a magnificent header which completely crossed the goalline before Alonso cleared it out; a clear goal missed by the assistant referee. Seattle fans will hope that whatever has gotten into Gspurning’s head will be cleared out before taking the pitch on Wednesday night.
Even though the Colorado Rapids had their postseason ticket punched, they knew that a win over Vancouver Whitecaps in their regular season finale could bump them up to third in the Western Conference avoiding the dreaded play-in game.
Colorado had struggled on the road, especially lately, only getting five of the last 18 possible points on the road. In the end, if it had not have been for the inspired play of keeper Clint Irwin, the final result would have been much worse; Vancouver ended up with a 3-0 win.
Colorado will need to figure out what it takes to win on the road now or they can spend the offseason on it. They will need to put Seattle’s defense under pressure early and shoot often on Seattle’s keepers. In their last match against Seattle, Deshorn Brown scored in the first minute which shell-shocked the weary Sounders. Colorado also converted on a quickly-taken corner later in the match.
The biggest key for Colorado will be the play of Drew Moor, Shane O’Neill, Nathan Sturgis and Hendry Thomas; if they can keep everyone in Seattle’s fluid attack accounted for and marked, Colorado should be successful in this match.
The Colorado Rapids will travel to CenturyLink Field to face off with Seattle Sounders FC on Wednesday Oct. 30th at 10:30 p.m. EST. This match can be seen on the NBC Sports Network, as well as locally on KONG (Seattle) and Altitude 2 (Denver). Also, regionally on Root Sports (Northwest).
Prediction: Seattle Sounders FC 2, Colorado Rapids 1 (after Extra Time)
Colorado has never won in Seattle; they have one point from a possible 18 points in their six regular season trips to the Emerald City. Currently, Seattle is on a seven-game winless streak, but they did look better against a strong Los Angeles club on Sunday. The home-field advantage and the opportunity to derail Cascadian rival Portland Timbers dream season will see the Sounders through in this one-off knockout round.