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April 14, 2012 at 2:01 AM

Sounders vs. Rapids, preview and prediction

Colorado Rapids Logo.jpgSounders FC (2-1-1) vs. Colorado Rapids (3-2-0)

Saturday, April 14, 1 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.

TV/radio: KONG-TV 6/16, 97.3 KIRO-FM (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)

Spanish radio: La Gran D 99.3 FM

Referee: Baldomero Toledo

Note: The March to the Match starts at noon

KEY RAPIDS PLAYERS

F Omar Cummings — With Conor Casey still out with an Achilles injury, the experienced Jamaican is running atop the new 4-3-3 formation as the primary forward. He’s got speed and skill, and he’s the only multi-goal scorer for Colorado with two goals. The 29 year old always poses lots of problems for a defense.

D/M Drew Moor — Steady and reliable, he has played all over the field. I’ve seen him mostly as a center back, but he’s also played as a outside back and recently coach Oscar Pareja played him in midfield. I expect him in the back Saturday, but with 14 career goals he’s also one to watch on set plays coming forward.

M Martin Rivero — The new Argentine playmaker dons the No. 10 jersey and pulls the strings as an attacking midfielder in the 4-3-3. He had an assist and four shots in a win against Chicago before a more quiet performance last week against Real Salt Lake. Osvaldo Alonso awaits…

KEY MATCHUPS

Brad Evans vs. Jeff Larentowicz –These two hard-working, ball-winning midfielders are very similar. I think whoever has more of an influence on the game will be noticeable in the result. And I’m sure some of the Sounders fans haven’t forgotten Larentowicz’s goal celebration last year that seemed a bit taunting in nature (around the 0:30 mark).

David Estrada vs. Marvell Wynne — The Seattle forward has caused havoc running around and chasing things down in the attacking third. Wynne is one of the fastest players in the league, so he won’t make breakaway chances easy. It’ll be interesting to see them running side by side.

Distraction vs. performance — The Sounders have preached that they want to focus on just soccer Saturday, but there’s no telling how Brian Mullan’s first trip to Seattle since breaking Steve Zakuani’s leg will affect the guys and the game. Will there be an altercation? How will the crowd react? There are a lot of non-soccer factors to consider.

PREDICTION

The Sounders’ offense has struggled without Mauro Rosales and Adam Johansson, and it looks like both will be out again, so I expect that unevenness to continue a bit. Seattle obviously becomes much easier to defend with less weapons on the field.

It’s worth noting that Colorado is also a solid team with a new coach and a new formation. There are a lot of established veterans on the team like Cummings, Larentowicz, Wynne and goalkeeper Matt Pickens, and they’ll surely be ready for a big test.

This is yet another MLS game that can go a bunch of ways, but I’m expecting the Sounders to grind this one out. Seattle is 4-1-1 in the series and a perfect 3-0 at home.

Sounders FC 1, Colorado Rapids 0

SEA — Fredy Montero (Alvaro Fernandez) 66′

* * *

How do you see this one playing out?

COMMENTS

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