Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Why Seattle has edge in playoff opener
by Ridge Mahoney, October 29th, 2009 7AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS PREDICTION] All the strategies and matchups and tactical nuances for the first leg of the Western Conference semifinal series between Seattle and Houston Thursday at Qwest Field might be tweaked somewhat if the conditions come up wet and windy. Whatever the weather, a seething atmosphere generated by a crowd of 36,000 should make for a memorable spectacle.

THURSDAY
SEATTLE (12-11-7) vs. HOUSTON (13-8-9), 10 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes

One point apart in the standings and in goal difference during the regular season, this is in every way a tossup between the second- and third-place teams in the Western Conference. Seattle won a regular season meeting and a U.S. Open Cup match by 2-1 scores at home; in Houston, the teams tied, 1-1. Both conceded 29 goals during the regular season and are excellent in the nets, potent up front, secure in midfield, and well-stocked with experience.

The dazzling speed and interplay Seattle has exhibited at times this season on its artificial surface could be accelerated if the field is slippery fast, yet a saturated surface would slow down pacy rookie winger Steve Zakuani, whose runs are hit and miss but always threatening, and livewire forward Fredy Montero. Instead, balls may be played to 6-foot-3 Nate Jaqua to knock down for Montero and Freddie Ljungberg. And watch out for rugged, driving midfielder Brad Evans, who scored the winner against Dallas Saturday with a superb first-time flick, and the serves of left back Leo Gonzalez.

At the other end, mid-summer acquisitions Dominic Oduro and Abe Thompson have injected more pace into the Houston attack; Brian Ching and Cam Weaver offer size and heft. Adding to the intrigue is the sprained knee of Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark, whose quickness and range can buttress the center behind Stuart Holden, who hasn't registered a goal or assist in league play for two months, and Brad Davis, co-league leader in assists with 12.

Houston's Geoff Cameron and Bobby Boswell have played strongly in central defense, yet Adrian Hainault has been a very underrated but very consistent performer on the outside. Might the relatively untested left back Mike Chabala get tested, and perhaps toasted, if he plays?
Prediction: Seattle 1, Houston 0.

RIDGE MAHONEY'S 2009 PREDICTION RECORD.
Last weekend:
2-5. Regular season: 104-121 (46.2 percent).

 



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Chile-USA: Three storylines to follow    
Nine veterans of the 2014 World Cup have been summoned by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann as ...
Chile longshots begin Copa America prep    
For the USA, the game against Chile Wednesday in Rancagua will the first match of the ...
What They're Saying: Phil Neville    
"I'd be first over there and I'd probably look to two-foot him or take him out ...
Video Pick: Artist and maverick, Riquelme retires    
Juan Riquelme announced the end of his fascinating career on Sunday, at age 36. The Argentine ...
Hope Solo's U.S. future remains up in air    
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati hopes women's national team star Hope Solo makes progress during her ...
What They're Saying: Sunil Gulati     
"Sure. ... We've asked her to do a number of things, and she's going to have ...
MLS Trade Central: Orlando signs Colombian Rivas    
Orlando City signed highly regarded young Colombian Carlos Rivas. The 20-year-old midfielder scored 12 goals in ...
U.S. women to play send-off series in May    
U.S. Soccer will hold a send-off series of three matches against three different opponents over three ...
The Good, the Bad and -- FA Cup shockers     
Europe in a nutshell: Paul Pogba, Lionel Messi and Neymarin moving pictures; Lyon sizzling hot in ...
Fire revamps with three new DPs    
The Chicago Fire has added Scottish international Shaun Maloney to the growing list of British players ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives