This is what awaits Real Salt Lake as they head to Seattle for their Saturday showdown with the Sounders. Should be fun. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Well boys and girls (yes we love casual fans, fans, and even super fans of all sexes) it is time for another round of Q&A to help you get ready for the next RSL match, yes Saturday RSL will be taking on the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink field. So Dave Clark, you know Sounder at Heart was willing to swap some wisdom so let's take a look at how he answered my questions and his answers:
1. It looks as if Sigi is starting to work a rotation up top between David Estrada, Fredy Montero, and Eddie Johnson, is that something you expected and what benefits do you think such a rotation could provide for the Sounders this year?
A. "There isn't a rotation. Estrada has seen so much playing time as a forward because of a lack of fitness in Eddie Johnson, as well as backup Sammy Ochoa. Since neither were able to start even in reduced roles the fittest of all Sounders played, and played well early in the season. EJ is still working his way back into full fitness so wasn't able to start 100% of games in this tight run. By the end of the month the first team pairing will be Montero and Johnson.
But you will still see a ton of David Estrada. He's role flexible and starting quality. He's the primary backup at forward, right mid, left mid and is even capable as a CAM and could be pressed at right back. With various injuries that pop-up Estrada may start more than two-thirds of all matches this year without being a 'starter.'
As for the forward pairing, it's about to break free. Johnson may not start this weekend, but probably could. His fitness is clearly ramping up to full season quality and next week is finally another break as the Sounders are in middle of a 9 match in 32 game stretch. Two game weeks finish it off at the end of May."
more after the jump:2. After the disappointment of Champions League this spring, the Sounders have jumped right back up and gotten about their business in MLS, did the lighter schedule to start the MLS season help the team get over the CCL and back focused on the league?
A. "I think the over-prep strengthened the side overall. They started prepping for competitive matches weeks, and in some cases a full month, prior to other MLS sides. Let's remember that this "lighter" schedule when you count Santos Laguna is tied for 4th most competitive games played behind TFC, RSL and the Impact. In those 11 games they have won 8, tied 1 and lost only two. Salt Lake has only 1 more played, but isn't as impressive in the results.
The Sounders will end a stretch of 5 played in 15 days with RSL on Saturday. During that stretch they won the previous four, in fact five straight. They have yet to repeat a starting lineup with 21 different players starting in MLS play. Due to injuries and fitness a "First XI" has yet to take the pitch.
Seattle's results so far are amazing. And while they won't be maintained over the season, the best is still yet to come."
3. After staring in MLS with Kasey Keller in goal, the Sounders found a new top guy in Michael Gspurning, he is now out injured and Bryan Meredith has taken over in goal (and doing very well), is there going to be a keeper controversy in Seattle?
A. "No. Gspurning is great. One thing to note about Meredith is that he isn't clearly the best of the other keepers. It took injuries to Terry Boss, Andrew Weber and Josh Ford for Meredith to get his starts. He's good, but no one with the team has ever said that he's the outright number two. While he may have earned that now, his progress is about the future, not the present."
Bonus Question - Going to switch from my normal what RSL player would you like on your team to, a what will be an acceptable season for the Sounders this year? Is the US Open Cup enough or is there pressure on the team to deliver more this year?
A. "The organization has one goal this year - the MLS Cup. They will still attempt to win every game and every trophy, but the goal in 2012 is the MLS Cup. Sigi Schmid rarely plays a cynical lineup, but when he does he wins (see against Dallas, against Monterrey). With the depth that has been tested so far one can expect Schmid to go for a four-peat in the Open Cup, qualify for the knockouts in Champions League and make an attempt at hosting the MLS Cup on merit. The bar here is high. The ownership regularly talks about the Club World Cup. They target the best in the Americas as teams to surpass.
As a fan base things are a bit split. Casuals may already be in an MLS Cup appearance or bust mode. Those that dive a bit deeper merely expect Seattle to compete to be one of the best every year. Securing an annual appearance in the CONCACAF Champoins League is a great measure of that."
There you so it is clear that I think the fans and players in Seattle are as hungry as we are here in Salt Lake for another shot at the CCL trophy.
So if you want to check out my answers to Dave's questions just click here and head over to Sounder at Heart.
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