By Money Mike
After a much needed week off the Seattle Sounders return to action much healthier than they were the last three to four weeks. After missing the last four games, both Mauro Rosales and Adam Johansson are set to make their return this Saturday as the Seattle Sounders invade Toyota Park to face the Chicago Fire in a U.S. Open Cup Championship rematch. Both teams come into this one with games in hand in their respective conferences. The new look Fire are off to a 2-1-2 start in the early stages of the season and earlier this week they brought back forward Chris Rolfe who began his career with the club from 2005-09 before spending the last three seasons in Denmark with AaB Fodbold. Unfortunately there's a chance Rolfe may not play this weekend for Chicago because right now he's dealing with a sprained left ankle.
Last time these two clubs met was back on October 4, 2011 at CenturyLink Field in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Championship match where the Sounders of course came out on top with a 2-0 win to claim their third consecutive Open Cup title, something that has never been done in over 40 years. The Sounders are 4-0-3 all time against Chicago including that Open Cup Final victory and will look to extend their unbeaten run against them this Saturday and more importantly take advantage of the games in hand with the Western Conference. The match will kickoff at 5:30pm and will be aired live on KONG TV and people outside the Seattle area can catch this live on ROOT Sports. This is the only meeting this season between the two and the Sounders will look to make sure that it goes their way.
This will be the 100th match in MLS history for the Seattle Sounders. March 19, 2009. That's when it all began. Over 32,000 in attendance to see the Sounders first ever match against the New York Red Bulls and they went home happy after the Sounders defeated the Red Bulls 3-0. From then on, Seattle didn't look back. In 09' however, the playoff race in the West as well as the battle for the top seed in the West was really tight. The Sounders finished third in the West, but only a point shy of the LA Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo. Looking at the current roster, I think we still have nine players from the inaugural season on the current roster for 2012 including Fredy Montero, Ozzie Alonso and Steve Zakuani. That was 2009 though, right now this is the 2012 season. I still can't believe that tomorrow's match will be their 100th. That's how quickly time has flown by.
Seattle Sounders FC - OK, for the Sounders, Josh Ford, Andrew Weber, Michael Tetteh, Steve Zakuani and Babayele Sodade are all ruled out. Alvaro Fernandez has been dealing with a right quad strain and it doesn't look like he will feature in tomorrow's match. Finally, as I mentioned earlier Adam Johansson and Mauro Rosales are expected to make their return after missing the last four games.
Chicago Fire - For the Fire, Cory Gibbs is out with a torn meniscus in his right knee. Steven Kinney has tendinitis on the posterior side of his right tibia and he is out as well. Kinney has not appeared in an MLS match since October 23, 2010. Last but not least, Chris Rolfe who re-joined the club earlier this week may not feature tomorrow night after picking up a sprained left ankle.
Key to this match:
Last match, this team really struggled to keep possession of the ball. You have to make sure everybody is on the right page because the main reason they gave the ball away so much was because they waited too long to pass the ball to their teammate and they find themselves in an offside position. Hopefully with Rosales and Johansson back, that area will improve. The lineup changes may have been the reason. Alex Caskey getting his first start as well as Eddie Johnson. David Estrada getting the start at right midfield. Whatever it was, hopefully it gets fixed tomorrow.