A battle of two Western Conference foes.
Colorado by Avery Raimondo: The Colorado Rapids come into this weekend’s home match against Seattle off something most of MLS can relate with…a win over DC United. In that victory at RFK Stadium, Mehdi Ballouchy was the starring man. Not only did the playmaker score the match’s lone goal with a low left-footed near post drive, but also expertly placed a curling freekick that unluckily struck the upright.
Seattle by John Zielonka: The Sounders know how to generate numerous scoring opportunities. In the 1-0 loss to San Jose, they kept Joe Cannon and his defenders busy with 18 shots, three of which were on target. Nine of those came from Fredy Montero, Freddie Ljungberg and substitute Miguel Montano. Five other players contributed to the other nine shots. Defensively, goalie Kasey Keller and his back four were solid after giving up the lone goal in the 11th minute of play...
Colorado: While the Rapids have the third best goal against average in MLS, their attack has been sub-par this year. The attacking duo of Omar Cummings and Conor Casey who the Rapids relied so heavily on last year only have a combined five goals heading into their ninth match. Ballouchy’s aforementioned goal is the only one coming from a foot of a Rapid in the past three matches; Colorado needs more production from their stars.
Seattle: In his post-game press conference, head coach Sigi Schmid again mentioned the lack of focus for the full 90. The veteran manager specifically called out his players for their concentration in the opening ten minutes of play, the whining about referees and, at the end of the match, their inability to get organized for a proper throw-in. Until Nate Jaqua and Blaise Nkufo make their appearances on the pitch, the problem of finishing and scoring arent' going away soon.
Colorado: The impressive Colorado backline relies heavily upon their two defensive minded central midfielders, Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz. There may not be a worse pairing for Freddie Ljungberg and a sputtering Sounder attack. It will be intriguing to watch how the Swede reacts with the expected physicality of the two veterans.
Seattle: The lineup will again change with the ACL injury suffered by defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. Newly signed Jeff Parke is expected to replace the hurt Colombian in the upcoming match against Colorado. Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso and Peter Vagenas were laid up last week and didn't play in the loss to San Jose. Depending on their recovery time and impact of the midweek Boca Juniors friendly, we may see another unique starting 11 against the Rapids.
Colorado: They haven’t been stellar this season, but Colorado has procured 13 points leaving them one spot above the Sounders in the Western Conference standings. But their advantage lies with more than just the one point lead as the Rapids head into Saturday’s encounter with two less matches played. A victory in the Emerald City will give the Rapids some early season distance between a team they will most likely be competing with for a playoff spot later in the year.
Seattle: The Sounders readily admit the atmosphere at Qwest Field can be intense and intimidating. Visiting teams thrive and use the energy generated by the home crowd to their advantage. The change in scenery, after another disappointing home loss, may be what Seattle needs to regain their confidence back.
Colorado: A desperate Seattle squad will be a difficult opponent for the Rapids and I accept a draw with 1 goal to both sides.
Seattle: Seattle Sounders FC 1 (Montero) - Colorado Rapids 1 (Casey). The Sounders score one and so do the Rapids as the visitors earn one crucial away point.
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