Real Salt Lake head to the northwest to take on a very good Seattle Sounders team. While the Sounders failed to score in a 0-0 draw against Vancouver last weekend, they’re in third place in the Supporter Shield standings, This game will undoubtedly be a tough challenge for Mike Petke’s men. Mark Kastner of Sounders At Heart gave us some insight on what to expect from Seattle.
The Sounders have forgone their usual poor start to the season and are already in run up to the playoffs form. What’s been the difference this year to give them such a strong start?
Health. I’m sorry I don’t have a sexier answer or some secret cracked code. Having Victor Rodriguez, Jordan Morris, and Nicolas Lodeiro all healthy and clicking together as been a tremendous help to the Sounders’ attack. Oh, and last season’s DP signing Raul Ruidiaz hasn’t been half bad either.
Jordan Morris was signed to a big contract this offseason and it looks like he’s making good with 3 goals in 4 games. How has he settled back into the team after being out with injury for so long? What else can be expected from the attack?
A serious knee injury to a young, dynamic attacker that relies on pace and strength is never a good thing. But, to Jordan Morris’ credit, he took the rehab seriously and seized the opportunity to allow it to help him become a better player. A few jokes were made last season by the coaching staff that Morris went to Preki’s School of Finishing & Other Things That Make an Attacker Good. But, Morris came back with more to his game than just pace and strength.
Morris will lineup on the right wing, but that’s really just a position on a piece of paper. He really plays as a second striker, off of the aforementioned Ruidiaz. With Kelvin Leerdam basically taking the position of a classic right midfielder in attack, that frees up Morris to make late runs into the box and find himself on the end of crosses or through balls from the more technically creative Lodeiro or Rodriguez.
Seattle has scored an impressive 10 goals prior to last weekend, but were unable to breakdown the Whitecaps. What did Vancouver get right to hold off the Sounders’ attack?
Marc Dos Santos dialed up those classic Jose Mourinho tactics and kept nine players inside their own penalty area for a majority of the game. There’s a lot of criticism of the way Dos Santos and Vancouver set up, but I actually thought it was brilliant. Here’s what I wrote following the game.
”What I saw from Vancouver was something I saw for the first time from them in a long, long time. They have a manager who finally understands his team and how they need to set up against a team that’s clearly better than them. Carl Robinson was a fraud. Marc Dos Santos is not.
Vancouver moved through the gears of the game extremely well, and towards the end of the game they had two of the best chances to score despite being the lesser of the two teams. I, for one, am grateful that we don’t have to play in Vancouver again this year, playoffs notwithstanding.”
I think much of the national conversation around how this being a “blueprint” to stifle the Sounders is much overblown, but it certainly worked in Vancouver.
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