Atlanta United’s visit to Cascadia and the Seattle Sounders is certainly a daunting one with the Rave Green firmly atop MLS. To get a better look at the Five Stripes’ Week 6 opposition we talked to Dave Clark from Sounder At Heart. Thanks to Dave for stopping by!
Q: Seattle is one of only three teams remaining unbeaten and the current Supporters Shield leader. What’s behind the Sounders’ hot start? Do you think it will last?
A: Brian Schmetzer’s shift to his variant of the 3-5-2 has been perfect. It’s unleashed an attack that is good enough, despite not having Jordan Morris or Nicolás Lodeiro yet. Some of that is potential Golden Boot winner Raúl Ruidíaz, and then there’s the emergence of Brad Smith as a goal scorer. It’s weird. No one expected it, and yet Schmetzer has turned Kelvin Leerdam and Joevin Jones into attacking threats in the past. Smith has a bit of Alvaro Fernandez in his game, lurking back post is a specialty.
The defense is also stunning. We’ll get into that in a bit
Will this last? No. Nothing in MLS lasts. It’s a league of entropy that damages all dreams. Maybe the Sounders win the Shield, but there will be a downfall. There are only two truths in MLS — no one is as good as you think they are and Seattle will always make the playoffs.
Q: The Ravegreen lost Jordan Morris to yet another ACL tear on loan to Swansea. How will Seattle replace him this season? What does his failed loan mean in the bigger picture?
A: They haven’t replaced him. He’s a Best X player and fringe MVP candidate. So rather than sign someone who can be as good as Jordan Morris the focus was on getting a tiny bit better elsewhere. That’s mostly worked, as outlined above. What they do next year will be interesting, as the 3-4-1-2 may not work as well with a healthy Morris. For now, they ride on with what’s great. Figure out what to do with Jordan when he’s back healthy.
I’m going to have to push back against the loan having failed. It was over basically as it started. Injuries never determine success or failure of moves like this. The fact is that Seattle had a great MLS player and one of the best American scorers of the generation. They helped him move to a place to further test himself, as they did with DeAndre Yedlin years ago. When their next generational talent comes along they will do the same — maybe that means it was a success after all.
Q: What are the Sounders’ biggest strengths? On the other hand, where could Atlanta find success?
A: Defense, defense, defense — somehow a team with Raúl Ruidíaz, Nicolás Lodeiro, Will Bruin, and Fredy Montero (all top 30 active goal scorers in the league) is all about goal prevention. There are four starting quality centerbacks, and one that looks like the best centerback since Chard Marshall. Nouhou is going to stop any attack that comes from Atlanta’s right side and most that come up the center.
Want to get points in Seattle? Get a dangerous free-kick, score off of that, and then keep that attack to a single goal. United is visiting the best team in the league. Pragmatic soccer is the way to go, for now.
Q: And finally, what’s your prediction for Sunday’s clash?
A: 3-1 (Montero x 2, Smith header, Josef)