Typically, my Tuesday interactions with you fine readers are limited to Lion Links, but today things will be shaken up a little bit due to Orlando City’s first midweek match of the 2019 season. The short week could scarcely come at a more unfortunate time, as the team is on a three-game winless streak and tomorrow’s match isn’t exactly close to home.
Rather than the familiar confines of Orlando City Stadium, the Lions must journey all the way to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field. The game comes promptly on the heels of a tough road loss to Atlanta United on Sunday, making it an extra short week for the men in purple. I had a chat with Mark Kastner of SB Nation’s Sounder at Heart and he was kind enough to give me some information on the 2019 Seattle Sounders team and I returned the favor over at their place.
Seattle just made a pair of signings at the close of the most recent transfer window. What can you tell me about Xavier Arreaga and Joevin Jones, and how do you expect them to fit into the team?
Mark Kastner: Arreaga is an aggressive, ball-winning center back who can step into midfield to influence the game offensively and defensively. Jones is a versatile left-sided player who mixes his game with pace and technical ability. When Jones was in Seattle previously, he was mostly a left back. But in the two years since, he’s exclusively played on the wing. I don’t expect him to play left back in his return to Seattle.
The Sounders have had a pretty good start to the season and currently sit third in the West on 22 points. What’s the biggest thing you can point to as the reason for Seattle’s early success?
MK: Health and depth. The early season struggles over the last few years have coincided with injuries to key players. This season’s Sounders team has been healthy, for the most part, and in the areas of the pitch where they’ve suffered injuries, there’s been adequate depth to fill in when needed.
It was a tough 2018 for Jordan Morris as he missed the entire season due to injury. He’s back this season though, and has four goals and an assist in 11 appearances. Outside of the statistics, how has he done this season after making his return?
MK: Morris is an incredibly important piece in the lineup for Seattle. His “position” is right mid, but he doesn’t play like a traditional forward at all. In the attack, he’s used to break the lines and tries to play in between the center back and fullback on whatever side of the field he’s on. That opens up a lot of space for the other attackers, like Nico Lodeiro or Raul Ruidiaz.
Are there any injuries, suspensions, or call-ups that will keep players unavailable, and what is your score prediction and projected starting lineup?
MK: Gustav Svensson and Victor Rodriguez are likely to miss this one. I think the Sounders will win 2-0 with this lineup: Stefan Frei; Brad Smith, Chad Marshall, Kim Kee-Hee, Kelvin Leerdam; Jordy Delem, Cristian Roldan; Harry Shipp, Nicolas Lodeiro, Jordan Morris; Raul Ruidiaz.
Thanks again to Mark for that great insight into the Sounders.