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October 15, 2011 at 2:25 PM

Sounders FC vs. S.J. Earthquakes, preview and prediction

San Jose Earthquakes Logo.jpgSounders FC (16-7-9) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (7-11-14)

Saturday, Oct. 15, 7:30 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.

National TV: FOX Soccer, Ch. 401/618 (Mark Rogondino, Kyle Martino)

Local radio: KIRO 97.3 FM (Arlo White)

Spanish radio: La Gran D 99.3 FM

Referee: Michael Kennedy

KEY EARTHQUAKES PLAYERS

F Chris Wondolowski — The reigning MLS Golden Boot winner has his sights set on a repeat. His 14 goals this season are tied for the league lead and he’s red hot right now. Has four goals in his last three games, six goals in his last seven. Can score in a variety of ways and will be a primary focus for the Sounders defense.

M Simon Dawkins — The former Tottenham man scored against Seattle earlier this season in a 2-2 tie at Buck Shaw Stadium. Has had to overcome some injuries, but he’s started the last seven games. Hasn’t scored since June, so I’m sure he’s itching to get back on the score-sheet.

D Bobby Burling — An intimidating presence in the back at 6-foot-5, 195 pounds. The 27-year-old got off to a slow start this season, but has been a regular in the lineup since the start of June. It’ll be interesting to see which forwards start for Seattle and match up with him.

KEY MATCHUPS

Brad Evans vs. Khari Stephenson — San Jose’s center midfielder likes to hold deep, but also has a powerful shot from distance. He earned MLS Goal of the Week for his thunderstrike against Seattle in Week 3. I have a feeling these two will battle for a lot of loose balls and 50-50 balls in the middle of the pitch.

Wondolowski vs. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — With Jeff Parke out due to the concussion, it’s easy to assume that main defensive duties will fall on the talented Hurtado. They might’ve anyway as he’s been on solid form this season coming back from the ACL injury. Both of these two possess a good combination of size, speed and strength. Should be fun to watch.

Emotions vs. over-excitement — With more than 62,000 in attendance and the sentimentality surrounding Kasey Keller’s send-off, there’s a fair amount of pressure on the home side to show well. It’ll be interesting to see the Sounders have the performance to back up the anticipation.

PREDICTION

Saturday’s atmosphere is going to be something special, probably one of the best in the world this weekend. There will be a lot of focus on the extras around the game, but ultimately Sounders FC is a much better team than San Jose right now.

Alvaro Fernandez is healthy. Fredy Montero is back from suspension. Mauro Rosales will be available in some capacity. Seattle will be close to full strength and motivated to win.

Not sure I see this one being close in the end.

Sounders FC 3, San Jose Earthquakes 1

SEA: Montero (Tyson Wahl) 20′

SEA: Fernandez (Montero) 43′

SEA: Sammy Ochoa (Rosales) 77′

SJ: Wondolowski (pk) 81′

* * *

What do you see from this one?

COMMENTS

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