Sounders FC (12-6-8) vs. Chivas USA (7-11-7)
Saturday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.
TV/radio: KONG-TV 6/16, 97.3 KIRO FM (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)
Spanish TV/radio: KOMO2 (Ch. 114), La Gran D 99.3 FM
Referee: Kevin Stott
KEY CHIVAS USA PLAYERS
M Shalrie Joseph — His standout MLS career speaks for itself, but he’ll shoulder a bigger role Saturday with Oswaldo Minda (a mainstay in the middle of midfield) out on international duty. Joseph can match Minda’s physical attributes and has shown flashes of his prime for the Goats. Amazingly, his two goals in just five games are two goals away from tying the team lead.
F Juan Agudelo — Crazy to think he’s still just 19 years old. Talent? He’s got it. He’s been in and out of the U.S. men’s national team at the senior level. Consistency? Well, that’s been a little more difficult. He’s got just two goals this season, but coincidentally both have come against the Sounders. He had the equalizer down in L.A. earlier this year and converted a PK a couple weeks ago.
D Danny Califf — Didn’t start in the last meeting and Sounders coach Sigi Schmid seemed particularly pleased about that, noting they attacked the Chivas center backs as a result. That was the only game he hasn’t started since joining the team in May. He’s an intimating presence in the back and also keep an eye out for him on set pieces.
Steve Zakuani vs. James Riley — I don’t know for sure that Zakuani will start, but Mario Martinez is out on national team duty and Mauro Rosales (quad) is an injury doubt, so it wouldn’t surprise me to start a dynamic option on the wing. He’d face a familiar face on that side. The former Sounders right back has played every minute of every league game this season and has also accounted for two assists.
Eddie Johnson vs. Raushawn McKenzie — The Sounders forward was rested for the past couple games and I could tell he’s raring to go from a chat earlier this week. He didn’t score in his last game at Chivas, which remarkably means he’s due with an ’11 goals in 22 games’ pace. McKenzie is a big guy at 6 foot 1, 185 pounds that can present a challenge physically.
A better team vs. a desperate team — I think it’s pretty clear the Sounders have a better squad in 2012, and Chivas USA’s international absences of Oswaldo Minda and Ante Jazic will be tough to replace. But the Goats still have a glimmer of hope to make the playoffs, so they’ll be coming out motivated and goal-hungry. How will Seattle respond to that desperation?
The last meeting ended 6-2, which might have an effect on both sides. The Sounders subconsciously could get a bit overconfident and Chivas USA will be looking for revenge, along with wanting to keep games meaningful down the stretch.
The visitors actually have a better goal differential on the road (minus-6) than at home (minus-13), but neither is that great. Seattle, on the other hand, hasn’t lost at home in a league game since May 23 and I see that trend continuing.
Can’t see anything other than three points for the Sounders.
Sounders FC 3, Chivas USA 1
SEA — Eddie Johnson (Christian Tiffert) 28′
SEA — Brad Evans (pk) 36′
CHV — Tristan Bowen (Nick LaBrocca) 64′
SEA — Sammy Ochoa (Marc Burch) 87′
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How do you see this one playing out?