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October 15, 2010 at 7:15 AM

Sounders FC v. Chivas USA, preview and prediction post

Chivas USA (8-15-4, eliminated from playoffs)

Head coach: Martin Vasquez, first year

Last week: Beat Toronto FC 3-0 at home

Last year: 13-11-6, lost to L.A. in the first round of playoffs

KEY CHIVAS USA PLAYERS

F Giancarlo Maldonado — The visitors could be without its starting forward tandem — Justin Braun (concussion) and Alan Gordon (suspension) — so expect to see the Venezuelan up top. Showed some good skill in the first game this season. A crafty-, speedy-, finesse-type guy. Not a bruiser.

GK Zach Thornton — The best save I’ve seen this season was probably by Thornton, who despite his huge build is impressively nimble. He kept the score at 0-0 late in the earlier game with a fingertip stop on a picture-picture blast by Osvaldo Alonso. If you haven’t seen the highlight, go find it.

M Rodolfo Espinoza — This wide-left midfielder very much impressed me in the first game. I think he hits a brilliant set piece and his crosses are stellar. Had a goal and assist in last week’s rout of Toronto. Will be a tough assignment for James Riley.

KEY MATCHUPS

Chivas M Paulo Nagamura v. Seattle M Osvaldo Alonso — If there are two more feisty and physical guys in the league, I’m not sure I’ve seen them. Both can impact the game in a lot of ways and controlling things in the middle will fall on both of their shoulders.

Seattle M Steve Zakuani v. Chivas D Mariano Trujillo — The speedy Sounders FC winger has been drawing regular double-teams these days. That’s how dangerous he’s becoming. I think he’s gotten significantly better over the course of the season and could have another big game in store.

Chivas D Michael Umana v. Seattle F Fredy Montero — How long can Fredy be kept off the scoresheet? I don’t know. I’ve been expecting him to break out every game. While his effort, playmaking and defensive pressure have been extremely good, his killer instinct in front of goal has been a tad off.

PREDICTION

Seattle has won six straight games. Sure, one was a friendly and another was a borderline meaningless CCL match against Marathon. Winning, however, is winning. And the home team comes into the game on a 9-1-3 run against MLS opponents and 12-1-3 against domestic competition.

Chivas, though coming off a big win, could be without its two forwards. The visitors also don’t have much to play for but pride. I just don’t see anyway Martin Vasquez’s side stays competitive in this one. Call it a Chivas-and-Chivas sweep.

Sounders FC 3, Chivas USA 0

SEA: Zakuani (Montero) 18′

SEA: Nkufo (Zakuani) 33′

SEA: Nyassi (Montero) 62′

COMMENTS

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