1. Hey, hey, wait. How'd you guys end up near the top of the table? I don't remember you being there a month ago - what's changed to give your side so much success? Or perhaps is it that few things have changed?
Those that look at points per match or winning percentage wouldn't be surprised by Seattle's charge up the points standings. The fact is that they've been in contention for the Supporters' Shield for a couple months. Yes, the club has taken a ton of points and now sits in a strong position. The last 10 matches see Sounders FC at 7-2-1. The 10 before that? 6-3-1. They've been a good-ish team with significant injury and call-up issues for the past 20 games. That success is founded in a strong defense and an attack that is both scoring more than it should and not yet full strength.
2. How has Clint Dempsey slotted into your setup? Is he likely to play? Has his arrival kicked Eddie Johnson into high gear as he hopes to get a new contract? Does Obafemi Martins still want to play for you after coming over from Spain? Inquiring minds and all that.
A seven parter (I just made that up)
Dempsey is likely to be in the center of the midfield in a space similar to a CAM, but he'll be expected to score from there. At least I think so, he's never actually played there for Seattle because of the injuries and what-not Clint has only been used as a forward. He could probably see significant playing time, but from the bench as he's getting back to Seattle Thursday.
Eddie thinks he deserves a DP contract. He'll tell you after he scores goals and on Twitter. While the extra monetary motivation started after the huge contracts for Donovan and Dempsey, his scoring prowess is what it's been. His last two seasons in MLS have 14 and 15 goals. In 2013 he should end with about 12. Those are great numbers and he deserves more money in this league. The only disputes are how much and how should he go about getting it.
Oba's been great here. Despite frequent injuries he has 7 goals scoring basically every 51 minutes. He glows when he's on the pitch and has loved Seattle off of it. He may not be Keane, but his fit here is nearly perfect.
3. This is perhaps as big a match as we've played against each other. What's the key for your side? How do you think Sigi and co are planning to stop RSL?
If Seattle scores they'll win. The only questions are about the offense, who will play and how they will convert. The defense does not allow shots and is still backed by one of the league's better keepers. That combination provides some safety. With both EJ and Clint a bit limited the offense will again have to be powered by two 7 goal scorers and Mauro Rosales. The club's recent surge at scoring on set-plays should help as well.
Significant absences: Evans out with a calf injury. Zakuani still recovering from a hernia/groin surgery. Johnson is doubtful from the head/nick thing in the USA's win.
Projected lineup: Gspurning; Gonzalez, Traore, Scott, Yedlin; Burch, Alonso, Carrasco, Rosales; Neagle, Martins