It's a U.S. Open Cup final rematch.On Form
Seattle Sounders FC, by John Zielonka: The Sounders scored three goals at Qwest Field, their highest total of the year. Leo Gonzalez, Steve Zakuani and Fredy Montero struck in the first half to earn an easy 3-0 win over the New England Revolution. All three scorers also added assists to their offensive tallies for the night. Goalie Kasey Keller needed to make one lone save to secure his fourth shutout of the year.
D.C. United, by Steve Streff: On form may be a stretch when describing United's defense, but D.C. kept their first clean sheet of the season in the 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. Of course, some of that might have been due to the warm and muggy weather that the nation's capital was experiencing at the time, but a clean sheet is a clean sheet. United couldn't turn that clean sheet into a victory, but for a team that has struggled as much this season, every little moral victory just might help get the season back on track.
Seattle: It's hard to identify an area for improvement after the impressive home win. The strikes by Gonzalez and Zakuani were outstanding, but you do have to wonder if the match would have been closer with a more experienced New England 'keeper in the nets.
D.C.: However, that defense has taken another injury hit, this time in the form of losing left back Rodney Wallace for at least six weeks with a broken fibula. The second year man had played every minute of the season until he was forced out of the game against RSL after blocking a shot. First signs pointed to just heavy bruising of the leg, but by Monday, it was clear that he had broken his leg, and will be forced to the sidelines for some time. United will also be missing Juan Manuel Pena in defense for the game against Seattle, as he will miss due to a groin injury.
Seattle: Head coach Sigi Schmid enjoyed the results from the 4-4-2 formation he used to beat the Revs. He won't deviate from last week's success, so expect to see the same lineup in this week's matchup against D.C. United.
D.C.: Seattle is a team that plays well at home, even if they don't have the results to prove it. It would be unwise for Curt Onalfo to send his team out playing defensively, looking for a point one the road. But Onalfo's big challenge for the game will be finding four defenders to make up his back line. With Wallace, Pena, and Carey Talley out, in addition to Marc Burch and Bryan Namoff, picking four defenders that can work well together against Seattle will be difficult. If Goal.com were to guess, expect to see Dejan Jakovic, Julius James, Jordan Graye, and Devon McTavish start in the game on Thursday night.
Seattle: The atmosphere at Qwest Field turned electric after Gonzalez' and Zakuani's volleys in the first half. If the Sounders strike early and fast, as they did in their win over the Revs, the loud and intimidating crowd should prevent any thoughts of a comeback by their Eastern Conference opponents.
D.C.: Andy Najar is the real deal. And not the real deal as in one day he will be a factor for D.C. The kid can flat out play. He came in the U.S. Open Cup match against Real Salt Lake, and immediately won the game with a brilliant individual goal. In the league match against RSL, Najar was arguably United's most dangerous player, creating several decent scoring chances against the defending champions of the league.
Seattle: The Sounders even their season record against the struggling D.C. United side. Seattle Sounders FC 2 (Zakuani, Ljungberg) - D.C. United 0.
D.C.: Last year, this matchup was one of the most exciting games during the season, as the teams played to a 3-3 draw. It's likely that United will concede the same amount on Thursday night, but without causing that much of a threat themselves. The game will end 3-1 in favor of the Seattle Sounders.
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