Ahead of our game today, Dave Clark from Sounder At Heart has shared his thoughts on Seattle Sounders’ chances, their best players and the history of the club.
Scott the Red: Are you excited about the game?
Dave Clark: I’m actually not excited about the game. Friendlies are nice exhibitions and do a decent job of growing the potential fan base here, but I’m a fan of winning trophies (Seattle has two in the last two years) and would rather the organization concentrate on competitive matches while reaching out to people who will actually support a team to which they have local ties rather than one across the pond that happens to be much better, but of little significance locally.
STR: Who do you think is United’s best player?
DC: I don’t follow the Premier League closely, but I’m probably most impressed with Berbatov. It may be that I watched him win the Carling Cup with a Spurs fan and so I’ve paid a slight bit more attention to him. Park has a certain appeal as well, because he’s one of those men who plays a vital role that doesn’t seem to get the respect that he deserves.
STR: Tell us some background about your club.
DC: While the Seattle Sounders have only been in Major League Soccer for 2.5 years, there is a soccer tradition involving that name that goes back to 1974. Due to the franchise system of sports in America continuity within leagues is a bit lacking but at this level the team has won the US Open Cup (similar to the FA Cup) two straight years and is in its 5th straight appearance in the semi-finals of the same tournament. In the first season of MLS the Sounders fell one goal against either the Crew or DC United short of winning the Supporters Shield (best regular season), but the Playoffs and resulting MLS Cup have been a bit of a bother. This season the team sits in 2nd by total points in the league, is in the semi-finals for the Open Cup and will be in the Preliminary Round for the CONCACAF Champions League. The team has been good, if not great on the field. Off-field though it has been the biggest success in American soccer history outside of the New York Cosmos of the NASL. They are now averaging over 36,000 a match with strong TV ratings and sponsorship by XBox on the kits. Over Seattle’s history from the North American Soccer League to MLS they have 10 major trophies to their name.
The stadium here holds 67,000 or so people and was designed for both types of football played in the United States. It has the necessary width and length to host World Cup events and the tiniest of crowns for a true play of the ball. While it doesn’t have grass on a permanent basis it will for this game. Both the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders would love to have grass permanently but the shared nature of the pitch makes that ideal a bit difficult during the fall rainy season.
STR: Which of your players should we look out for?
DC: The players that deserve the most attention here are Osvaldo Alonso and Freddy Montero. While everyone who follows United knows about Kasey Keller, Alonso and Montero are the linchpins to success right now. Alonso plays as a defensive midfielder who is an extraordinary ball winner, decent passer and capable of a long range shot reaching net on occasion. Last off-season here he trained with Everton for a bit. Montero is a false nine who with strong technical skills, great ability to shoot in traffic and an ability to score on set-pieces from as far away as 40 yards. He’s more of a La Liga style forward than Premier League, and will likely leave for a better league someday.
STR: What are your predictions for the game?
DC: Unless United doesn’t try at all Seattle will get crushed. At best an MLS side is probably about the same quality as a mid-table Championship team and at worst a top table League Two team. But the results don’t matter, this is really an attempt to make Seattle a bit of money and expose people on both sides of the Atlantic to a new team, or two. This is soccer evangelism, and in the end a good thing. The result that matters will be finances down the road, not the scoreboard now.
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