Friday, March 16, 2012

Seattle Sounders open up their 2012 campaign at home against Toronto FC

By Money Mike

The Seattle Sounders return home after an unsuccessful trip to Torreon and kick off their fourth season in Major League Soccer this Saturday. The Sounders take on Toronto FC in their only meeting this season due to the unbalanced schedule being put into place during the offseason. Last season, the Sounders swept the season series against Toronto. In their first meeting on April 30th, the Sounders were playing their first match without their 2009 #1 overall draft pick Steve Zakuani and former TFC player O'Brian White who both underwent season ending surgeries during the week. However, the Sounders prevailed and struck three times to come away with three points in a 3-0 shutout victory. In their second meeting at BMO Field in Toronto, the Sounders were reduced to 10 men when Jhon Kennedy Hurtado picked up his second yellow of the match a minute into the second half, but Seattle still came out on top after Fredy Montero's free kick proved to be the difference in Seattle's 1-0 win. Seattle is 4-1-1 so far against TFC.

Toronto comes to Seattle with a much different look, and a much better team than what I've seen in their first five seasons in MLS. Toronto is coming off a memorable 4-3 series win over the Los Angeles Galaxy in the Champions League quarterfinal, making them the first Canadian team to reach the semifinal of that stage. LA's preseason struggles have carried on to the regular season, and I tell you if they don't solve their defensive problems soon, they're gonna have a rough ass time on their title defense this season. But again, TFC comes in with a different look that has led them to success in their Champions League win over LA, led by former German international Torsten Frings leading the back line, they also have Joao Plata and their top scorer form last season Danny Koevermans up front along with Ryan Johnson. One more player you can add to that list is a young rookie named Luis Silva. So Toronto looks like they have everything in place.

All odds still favor Seattle. Despite their recent form, the home field advantage looks like it's still too tough to handle for the visitors. Toronto will give Seattle all they got, but it doesn't look like it will be enough.

Injury report:

Toronto FC - Alright for Toronto, Nicolas Lindley, one of their homegrown players, is still recovering from surgery on his left knee. He missed all of last season and he will miss this match as well. Dicoy Williams is also recovering from the same surgery, but only on his right knee and he is also out. Also out is one of their newest offseason acquisitions, former Portland Timber Jeremy Hall. Right now Hall is recovering from Sports Hernia Surgery so he won't be around. And lastly, Adrian Cann is recovering from right knee surgery. However, he is listed as questionable.

Seattle Sounders FC - For the Men in Rave Green, Josh Ford has been dealing with pain in his knee since the end of training camp. Rookie Andrew Duran will be out until about late April after undergoing knee surgery. Remember, he suffered a couple of major knee injuries during his college career. Michael Tetteh is out with a hamstring injury. Steve Zakuani has been making progress in his recovery, he's aiming to return around the middle of the season. Eddie Johnson suffered a hip flexor injury in the Champions League match against Santos. He is listed as doubtful, so hopefully he'll be back soon. And lastly, O'Brian White is still recovering from his second blood clot surgery in this leg. There will be a decision tomorrow on whether or not the FO will buy out his contract, as of right now, he is on the DL.

Key matchups:

Joao Plata vs Adam Johansson - If you see the smallest player on the field, then you know it's Joao Plata. He is known for his quickness and creativity on the ball. He gave James Riley a few problems in Seattle's visit last season. Johansson will have to keep an eye out for this kid at all times. This is where one on one defending becomes huge. Johansson has done very well in one on one defending during his career over in Sweden, but this is a guy that he's never seen or heard of, so I hope he's been at home doing his homework because he's got a huge task against this kid. I think this matchup looks pretty even.

Fredy Montero vs Ty Harden - First of all, you people need to lay off Fredy Montero. Sure he had a poor performance in the Champions League, but seriously he's one of the most, if not the most consistant strikers we've had so far. By the way, Ty Harden better be ready because if he's not and Montero catches him napping, watch out. Montero has had a great preseason and his form is right where it needs to be and I think the Colombian has the edge in this matchup.

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