Nashville SC are back in action, taking on the Seattle Sounders at Geodis Park on Wednesday night. For the latest on the reigning Concacaf Champions League winners, we spoke with Dave Clark, who covers the team for Sounder At Heart.
Ben Wright: Seattle bounced back quickly from their CCL win, and have climbed the table quickly. They’ve been the masters of getting hot at the right time; are you expecting them to just explode down the stretch?
Dave Clark: For a long time I didn’t think Brian Schmetzer rotated players enough. Then he spent every year demonstrating that his squads get hot late, make the playoffs, win two MLS Cups, a CCL. He’s got the rotation thing down. As long as the only major injuries are to Joao Paolo and Obed Vargas the club will host a home playoff match again, and win it, because that’s become the norm.
BW: They just lost 3-0 at home to Portland, and the scoreline reflected the match pretty well. Is that a concern, or do you write that off as just a typical MLS result?
DC: Until the 75th minute, it looks like Seattle, despite being down a man was likely to level the match. The penalty call ended those hopes. The primary weakness shown in that loss was to the counter. The 3-4-2-1 should have had more in defense, but the Timbers were able to slice through that quickly when at a full charge. Considering that home teams are 1W-1D-10L in their last twelve matches between Portland and Seattle, I’ll chalk it up to a thing that happens. It’s not like the Sounders blew a two-goal lead twice in a game (they did that against San Jose).
BW: The Sounders have coped with plenty of injuries this year. While they are getting back to health, they’re still missing guys like João Paolo, Will Bruin and 16-year-old Obed Vargas. How have they handled those absences, and do you think they’ll make signings?
DC: Bruin’s recent absences were due “health & safety protocols.” He’s back. The biggest absence for this match is Raul Ruidiaz, who will miss at least the road trip if not more as he injured his other hammie in the loss to Portland. Seattle must count on scoring from Jordan Morris and Fredy Montero to make up for Raul.
In defensive mid they lost an MVP candidate and probably the hottest youth prospect in the league. Without João Paulo and Obed they will rotate Josh Atencio, Danny Leyva and Kelyn Rowe through starts hoping that the matchups are in their favor. Most recently Craig Waibel said that they’ll look for a unicorn from within the league, with the sending team taking on some contract as they are budget tight.
BW: How has Jimmy Medranda fared in Seattle?
DC: He’s fulfilled more of his promise with Sounders than anywhere else, but the same thing that had SKC and Nashville give up on him is happening here. He is a bit too injury prone to be more than a roleplayer. If he was regularly healthy he could probably be the starter at left back and always at left wingback. His attacking contributions are incredible. A valuable player, Medrandamania is a joy.
BW: Do you have a lineup/score prediction?
DC: The Sounders have taught me a few things over time. The most important of these is that it’s what you do for the community that matters. The next of these is that they always make the playoffs and compete for trophies. That you should have no expectations for any specific match, because that’s when you get disappointed – so I guess that’s the Timbers game after all.
Thanks to Dave for helping us out. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @bedirthan.