The teams in the West tussle for points in a tight conference.
Colorado Rapids: The defensive wall of the reigning champions is a tower of strength. When protecting the goal at home, this group of four (Kimura, Wynne, Moor, and Wallace) displays their force at its fullest. Pablo Mastroeni, the vocal leader, is back from his injury, ready to guide his team to victory against Seattle.
Seattle Sounders FC: Head coach Sigi Schmid made all the right moves in securing a 1-1 draw in last week’s matchup against the stingy Philadelphia defense. He inserted forwards Fredy Montero, Nate Jaqua and midfielder Alvaro Fernandez as second half substitutes. In the first minute of extra time, Fernandez notched his first goal of the year. Montero, who was playing his first game since recuperating from a wrist injury, earned an assist on the tally and his first point of the 2011 season. The last-minute road win in Philly extended Seattle’s unbeaten streak to four games (1-0-3).
Colorado: Conor Casey is still out, along with Quincy Amarikwa, due to injury. The two remaining strikers, Cummings and Folan are extremely capable of playing powerfully for the full 90 minutes.
Seattle: Argentinean midfielder Mauro Rosales played the full 90 this time. In the two previous matches, he was the sparkplug that helped the Sounders regain their scoring footing. Without his usual distributions and runs throughout the pitch, Seattle failed to score until the final stages of the match. Rosales may not be ready to play for an entire game. His fitness and adjustment to MLS’ cross-country travel could still be works-in-progress.
Colorado: They are coming off a week long break. Their injuries were able to heal, and their hearts had time to mend after the late-game robbery against RSL. Being at home, the Rapids will come out prepared to dominate possession and take advantage of the powerful pair up top.
Seattle: The 4-3-3 formation gives Schmid additional firepower in front of the net. Montero, Jaqua and Fernandez carried the bulk of the offensive effort in the last 20 minutes. The veteran head coach has some interesting choices to make with O’Brian White and Rosales in the mix. With so many options, Schmid has multiple personnel and tactical options to consider as he prepares for the road trip to Colorado. My guess is that he’ll go with Montero, Jaqua and Rosales as his three forwards. He’ll bring in White and Fernandez as second-half subs if the Sounders are behind or tied in the closing minutes of the game.
Jamie Smith and the Rapids are formidable at home
Colorado: A refreshed squad is aching to take the pitch after the painful loss in Utah. The altitude is always a secret weapon that attacks the visiting team near the 70th minute.
Seattle: The last-minute heroics boosted the spirits of the entire team in what a number of players said were some of the worst playing conditions ever. Seattle overcame not only the weather but an excellent defensive Union team to walk away with a well-deserved point. Their confidence will be high and should carry over to this matchup against the Rapids.
Stephanie Gardner: Determined and focused, the Rapids perform best in front of the home crowd. The Rapids will defeat Seattle Sounders 3-0.
John Zielonka: Colorado has too much firepower for the Sounders to sneak a win. The Sounders tie and extend their unbeaten streak to five. Seattle Sounders FC 2 (Montero, Zakuani), Colorado Rapids 2 (Cummings, Nyassi)
Keep updated with Major League Soccer by visiting Goal.com's MLS page and joining Goal.com's page.