New England Revolution (3-6-2, fourth in the East)
Head coach: Steve Nicol, ninth year
Last week: Beat New York 3-2
Last year: 11-10-9, third in East
KEY NEW ENGLAND PLAYERS
M Shalrie Joseph — Missed the early part of the season in a substance-abuse program, but he’s back and still one of the best players in the league. A strong presence in the middle of the field and more involved in the attack than he gets credit for. I’m sure Sounders fans know all about it, he scored all three N.E. goals against the Sounders last year in two wins.
GK Bobby Shuttleworth — All signs point to the youngster getting the start. Matt Reis made the trip and trained Friday, but he’s expected to be an emergency back-up. Shuttleworth got rave reviews from teammates and coaches after his league debut last week following the Burpo injury, but playing on the road in front of 36,000 will be a different beast.
F Zack Shilawski — Not sure many would have tagged him to have more goals that Fredy Montero at this point, let alone one of the leading scorers in the league after so many games. Had a hat trick earlier in the season against Toronto, but is yet to score a league goal on the road.
Seattle’s Steve Zakuani v. N.E. defender Kevin Alston — In a live chat we had with Zakuani earlier this season, he called Alston the best defender he’s ever gone up against (dating back to college). The Englishman also took a nasty knock on his hip last game, so this will be an interesting one to watch.
Joseph v. Seattle midfielders Brad Evans/Patrick Ianni — Evans has expressed how he wants to be an established man in the middle in MLS, much like Joseph. So a solid performance against the Grenadian would go a long way to doing that. Ianni getting physical with Joseph wouldn’t hurt the Sounders cause either.
New England normal v. New England motivated — Hard to explain, but the Revs might have renewed focus in fighting for Burpo, a ex-Sounder who had had a great start to this season. Freddie Ljungberg admitted the Revs might be dedicating the performance to the fallen mate, and that could result in some spirited play.
The Sounders are a good team that’s deserved better this season. The Sounders are also a very flawed team right now. These missed chances are no coincidence and will continue to be an issue until the break, I feel.
I see this one playing very even. Seattle is not a full strength personnel-wise, and it’s definitely showing. Before a can predict a breakout performance, I’ll have to see one first.
Seattle Sounders FC 1, New England Revolution 1
NE — Dhube (Joseph) 13′
SEA — Ianni (Ljungberg) 55′