Lots of news trickling out about the Sounders this week; I’ll do my best to run it all down.
More key injuries/suspensions/missing players
The first part of the Sounders’ season was characterized by a bunch of injuries that helped contribute to the horrendous start. The club finally appeared to be getting healthy, but then Osvaldo Alonso suffered a knock against Dallas. It seemed minor, until he tried to come back too early and re-aggravated the injury. Now The Seattle Times’ Joshua Mayers is reporting the midfielder has a tear in his thigh muscle and will miss Saturday’s game against Vancouver. June 22 against RSL is the preliminary return date for Alonso.
The injury news is worse for Steve Zakuani. Mayers says the winger has a sports hernia and will be out 6-8 weeks. You have to feel for Zak, who appeared to be fully recovered from his horrendous broken leg last season, but now has to miss additional time.
Meanwhile, Seattle will be missing two of its thee Designated Players for this weekend’s game. Eddie Johnson is with the U.S. National Team while Shalrie Joseph is suspended due to a red card. Fortunately, Obafemi Martins’ red card against Chivas was rightly overturned after an appeal and he will be available for Saturday.
In addition to Johnson, Mario Martinez and Brad Evans are also away on national team duty leaving an already thin midfield even worse off.
Depth to be tested again
Seattle’s reserves came up way short in the U.S. Open Cup, but Saturday will be an opportunity for the bench to redeem itself. With all the absences in the midfield and with Johnson missing at forward, expect to see a few bench guys slot in against the Whitecaps. I’d expect Servando Carrasco and Andy Rose to start in midfield with Mauro Rosales and Lamar Neagle wide.
Up front Sammy Ochoa or David Estrada will partner with Martins. Estrada is a better goal-scorer, but I’d like to see Ochoa, who offers hold-up play similar to Johnson’s. Danish winger/forward Phillip Lund will probably make the bench for the first time this season and first-round pick Eriq Zavaleta could also claim a spot in the 18.
Now for some good news:
Mario Martinez possibly moving to Seattle permanently
It’s easy to forget Martinez is actually on loan from Honduras’ Real Espana. The midfielder’s loan expires this month, but Mayers tweeted Sigi Schmid has been talking to the Honduras national team manager about not calling Martinez up. As Mayers goes on to point out, this would indicate the Sounders are going to exercise their option to purchase Martinez. While he has yet to really find his footing in MLS, the Honduran’s talent is obvious and he seems to be on the verge of breaking out. A great addition for the club.
50,000 tickets sold for Vancouver, 34,000 sold for USA-Panama
The latest ticket numbers are out and it appears the match against the Whitecaps on Saturday will be one of the highest attended in club history. ProSoccerTalk has more here. I’d expect walk-ups to push that number close to 55,000, maybe even 60,000 if you want to be really optimistic. No matter what it’s going to be an amazing atmosphere for another big rivalry game and a great showcase for the league as the match will be nationally televised on NBCSports.
Three days later, another impressive crowd will fill Century Link to watch the USA take on Panama in a crucial World Cup Qualifying match. Although some have expressed disappointment at the number of tickets sold, it’s important to remember attendance is capped at 42,000 because of the Mariners game happening at the same time. The M’s and the $70 price tag for an upper-level ticket are definitely eating into the potential attendance, but I’d expect ticket sales to creep upward as we get closer and closer to Tuesday. Regardless, there will be a crowd of 34,000+ for a game against Panama. That’s impressive enough.
What do you guys think about all the missing players? What would your starting lineup look like? Are you attending Saturday’s game or Tuesday’s game? Both? Give us some comments!