Thursday, March 24, 2011

SOUNDERS FC: Sounders vs. Houston match preview

Friday night the Sounders return home to take on the Houston Dynamo in hopes of earning their first points of the season. Kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be shown on Fox Soccer Channel.

The Dynamo (0-1-0) are looking to bounce back after a disappointing 2010 campaign where they finished second to last in the Western Conference. The Sounders (0-2-0) are in search of a spark that would steer the team back in the right direction.

To Continue...For Houston, they are feeling fortunate that Brian Ching appears to be fit for play. The Dynamo, who failed to score in their first match, are hoping Ching can provide an offensive surge.

The good news for the Sounders is Houston is not of the same caliber as their first two opponents (L.A. and N.Y.). It also appears that the Sounders are close to full strength

“It was good to get some guys back in the mix, like [Steve] Zakuani and [Brad] Evans and [Nate] Jaqua were able to do a full week of training, so I thought those were all positives,” Head Coach Sigi Schmid said.

Whether or not any of the three will be in the starting lineup remains to be seen.

“I’m not going to give you our starting lineup at this stage, but I think they’ve shown themselves to be guys we have to consider and we have to look at in terms of the 18 and possibly even in the starting 11. Whenever guys are coming off an injury you never know when the relapse hits. I’ve got my fingers crossed and we are hopeful,” Schmid said.

It is fairly safe to say that if Zakuani is healthy, he will start. On the other hand, Jaqua and Evans are question marks in my mind. While I would love to see Jaqua crack the starting 11 and have a go up front, I am not sure Sigi is quite ready to do that. My feeling is that if Jaqua is available to play he will come on as an early substitution, however much of this depends on how the match is shaping up.

As for Evans, I don’t see him starting. If Zakuani comes back, and assuming Fernandez is still on the outside, I don’t see a spot available for him. Playing in the middle is of course an option, however I feel Erik Friberg has played well enough to earn that spot.

It will be interesting to see the lineup Sigi opts to roll out Friday, but no matter the look, one thing is for certain. The Sounders need to come away with a positive result.

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