Sounders FC (0-0-0) vs. Toronto FC (0-0-0)
Saturday, March 17, 7 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.
TV/radio: KONG 6/16, 97.3 FM (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)
Spanish radio: La Gran D 99.3 FM
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
KEY TORONTO PLAYERS
F Danny Koevermans — The 33-year-old Dutchman has performed remarkably well in his short time with the club. Since debuting in July, he has scored eight goals in his 10 league games. Serves as the main central striker in a unique and fluid formation that Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid says shifts sometimes from a 3-4-3 to a 5-4-1 to a 4-3-3.
M Luis Silva — Many pundits leaguewide are tagging the young playmaker as the favorite to win MLS Rookie of the Year. A former college teammate of Seattle’s Michael Tetteh, the 23-year-old certainly took his goal well in the first leg of a CCL quarterfinal against the Los Angeles Galaxy. Didn’t start in the second leg, so he might be in line for action tonight.
M/D Torsten Frings — Listed as a midfielder, but Schmid pointed out that he often hangs out deep in between the center backs. Has world-class pedigree as a former German international and club experience with Borussia Dortmund, Werder Bremen and a little club called Bayern Munich.
Fredy Montero vs. Ty Harden — Admittedly it’s hard to guess what the lineups will look like as both teams adjust from having midweek games, but I’m guessing Seattle’s top scorer gets the start, even if he doesn’t go 90 minutes. He’ll match up with TFC’s center back, who played collegiately at the University of Washington.
Joao Plata vs. Adam Johansson — The dynamic Ecuadorian played just a half in Wednesday’s CCL game, so I think he’ll get the start. Quick and dangerous, he’s given the Sounders problems in the past on the left side. Most of those man-marking duties on Plata will fall on the Johansson, who is making the right back position his own.
Toronto’s confidence vs. Seattle’s emotions — As SSFC technical director Chris Henderson noted, this is probably the high point in the TFC’s history, so they’ll be coming in with confidence. The Sounders, on the other hand, will be looking to erase the memories of Wednesday’s debacle in Mexico — not to mention please a home crowd of 38,000.
Make no mistake: Toronto hasn’t fared well against the Sounders the past three seasons. TFC hasn’t scored in four of the six meetings and Seattle leads the series 4-1-1 having won the last three.
But these aren’t the Reds we’ve come to know. In this, Toronto’s sixth season, they look like a serious playoff contender, especially after knocking out the Los Angeles Galaxy in the CCL. Believe it or not, coach Aron Winter has established some stability up there.
Even still, it’s still to see them coming into a raucous CenturyLink Field, which will be fuller than its ever been for a home opener, and stealing a result. I do think it’ll be close and get interesting late:
Sounders FC 3, Toronto FC 2
SEA: Fredy Montero (Osvaldo Alonso) 34′
SEA: Fredy Montero (Christian Sivebaek) 43′
TOR: Danny Koevermans (Joao Plata) 59′
SEA: Brad Evans (pk) 78′
TOR: Ryan Johnson (Terry Dunfield) 87′
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What do you think? Does Seattle get all three points in this one?