To mark Gonzalo Pineda’s reunion with the Seattle Sounders, we checked in with Mark Kastner of our sister site Sounder At Heart to see how the Rave Green are faring in 2022.
Q: First off, congratulations for being the first MLS team to ever win the CONCACAF Champions League. What’s been the feeling in Seattle after such a feat? How can the Sounders build on this?
A: Winning the CCL was very cool. It is still cool, I think. The weirdest thing about winning the biggest trophy in North America is that it’s just business as usual afterwards. Since it happens in the middle of the season, it’s not like we can see a parade or anything. Finishing the season strong and playing in the Club World Cup, whenever that is, will be a huge moment for the club and the league.
Q: What’s up with Seattle’s mediocre MLS form? Do you think the Rave Green will turn it around or are there any deeper problems in the Puget Sound?
A: Injuries. Joao Paulo tore his ACL in the CCL final. Raul Ruidiaz has played less than 1/3rd of the available minutes for the Sounders this year. Xavier Arreaga and Yeimar Gomez Andrade have missed time as well. Even our 16-year-old midfielder, Obed Vargas, who helped us weather the storm of missing Joao Paulo, has stress fractures in his back.
Consistency is the key to success in MLS. If any team, even Seattle, cannot field a consistent lineup week in and week out, they’re going to struggle. If Ruidiaz can get healthy and stay there I think the Sounders will be just fine.
Q: What are Seattle’s biggest strengths?
A: Different ways to hurt you. When the Sounders are fit and firing, they have so many ways to score. Ruidiaz is one of the best goal scorers in the league, with Nicolas Lodeiro right behind him. Jordan Morris is incredible on the counter or as a wide forward. Albert Rusnak is incredible in the midfield. If the Sounders are on it and healthy, they’re a problem for every team...
Q: On the flip side, what are their weaknesses?
A: They’ve rarely been able to pick a first-choice XI this year and won’t be able to for at least the rest of the year. Trying to figure out what is the best of the rest has been a problem all summer and there’s not a lot of time to figure it out.
Q; What’s your prediction for Saturday’s affair? Will Seattle try to kill soccer like the last time they came to the Benz? ;)
A: Score draw. Looks like you guys are handling that all by yourself.