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July 7, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Sounders FC vs. Colorado Rapids, preview and prediction

Colorado Rapids Logo.jpgSounders FC (7-5-6) vs. Colorado Rapids (7-9-1)

Saturday, July 7, 8 p.m. CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.

National TV: NBC Sports Network (Arlo White, Kyle Martino)

Radio: 97.3 KIRO-FM (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)

Spanish radio: La Gran D 99.3

Referee: Kevin Stott

KEY RAPIDS PLAYERS

M Martin Rivero — Yeah, the forwards are good, and we’ll get to them, but the Argentine playmaker has six assists (tied for fourth in MLS) in 13 games this season, and Colorado is 5-1-1 in games when he has either a goal or assist. Made his first-division debut in Argentina at 18 years old and it hasn’t taken him long to make an impact in this league.

F Omar Cummings — The speedy Jamaican forward has been getting over an ankle sprain, but is listed as probable and didn’t play a full game Wednesday, so we’ll assume he’s ready to go. He hasn’t scored since mid-April, so he’ll be motivated to get back on the score sheet. Has showed well against the Sounders in the past.

GK Matt Pickens — A steady and reliable veteran that’s played every minute this season. His 65 saves are the most in the league this season, and while he’s also faced an MLS-most 85 shots, his 76-save percentage is among the leaders, as well. On pace to set new high marks in wins and shutout in his Rapids tenure.

KEY MATCHUPS

Conor Casey vs. Patrick Ianni — Two of the most physical guys in the league could be at the center of this one. I have a feeling Casey might come off the bench, since he’s still coming back from the hamstring injury and played a full 90 Wednesday against Vancouver. Even if it’s just 30 minutes, he can have a game-changing impact. Ianni should be ready to go after getting the midweek game off.

Fredy Montero vs. Drew Moor — The Sounders forward got a little respite at the end of Wednesday’s game and has always been quick to recover, so I figure him to start. He hasn’t scored since mid-May and drew a little criticism on the league website recently, so maybe there will be some motivation there. He’ll be matched up with the Rapids’ Iron Man, as the versatile Moor has played every minute this season.

Seattle’s depth vs. Colorado’s depth — Both teams are coming off Wednesday games and travel, meaning both coaches will probably have to shake up the lineups a bit. The Sounders have Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose, Alex Caskey, Patrick Ianni, Adam Johansson and Marc Burch, among others, that are rested and ready to go. Can the Rapids match that going 18-20 deep?

PREDICTION

Glass half empty, the Sounders are winless in nine MLS games. Glass half full, they’ve actually put together three somewhat decent performances in a row — at least compared to the standard of the last two months.

I’ve thought the streak would end before this point, but I also think it will end tonight.

Seattle’s schedule has been brutal, but Colorado has faced a similarly busy stretch — at least on the short term — with three games in eight days. I think the stadium energy will be high, perhaps in part to some Brian Mullan booing, and a Steve Zakuani bench appearance could be an ace up the sleeve.

Sounders FC 2, Colorado Rapids 0

SEA — Fredy Montero (Adam Johansson) 12′

SEA — Osvaldo Alonso (pk) 79′

* * *

What do you think? How do you see this one playing out?

COMMENTS

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