With Chivas set to take on the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday night, we reached out to Dave Clark (@bedirthan) of Sounder at Heart to discuss the matchup. Dave took some time to answer some questions to help us learn a bit more about Chivas’ CCL quarterfinals opponent.
RA: MLS teams have historically struggled against Liga MX teams, but Sounders are one of the top teams in MLS and Chivas are currently struggling. By sitting some starters in their first game of the season, are they trying to put an end to the historic Liga MX dominance?
DC: Sounders history has both struggles (a 6-1 loss to Santos Laguna) and victories against Liga MX sides. They’ve beaten Monterey in Monterrey, advanced after beating Tigres over two legs in the knockout rounds. This team, at its best, can compete with Mexican sides, but things need to be nearly perfect. That’s why coach Brian Schmetzer rested Clint Dempsey, Chad Marshall, Roman Torres and Magnus Wolff Eikrem. To beat Chivas will take nearly everything. Look for the Sounders to do what they can to take a two-goal lead at home. That might mean a slightly softer defense for something like a 3-1. They will be confident that they can go on the road and keep the score tight. They’ve done it in MLS Cup and past Champions League matches. Leg one is when good soccer will be played, and then leg two will be a soul-crushing education in how a lesser team attempts to bunker.
RA: Seattle has one of the best crowds and fan bases in MLS but Mexican teams and Chivas in particular bring a lot of fans to the stadiums. Is Seattle worried that their home field advantage could be gone?
DC: They shouldn’t be. This match is part of the season ticket package, which means 35,000+ fans just to start. There is a significant ad campaign too. Their new radio partner is building the game up and every ticket holder is getting email and phone calls asking them to be there. While Chivas does get fans here the rave green faithful will not be overwhelmed. Single game seats are also far away. That lessens the impact even if Guadalajara fans do show up en masse. They will be further from the field, up in the 300 level (which is a good view of the action, but hard to influence what happens).
RA: What are the weakest areas of the Seattle lineup that Chivas could look to exploit?
DC: Fullback, especially right back is quite vulnerable, at least in leg one. With Kelvin Leerdam out Schmetzer is counting on a former USL (lower division) player as his starter. Jordan McCrary may eventually be MLS caliber by right now his defense is weak, both in positioning and when on the man with the ball. Expect Seattle to provide him support either by splitting the CBs wider or having one of the defensive midfielder’s cheat over. That opens up other weaknesses, but it is the best they can do in a bad situation.
Also, below is a the latest episode of the Chivas Del Norte Podcast which featured Hugo Garcia also of the Sounder At Heart Blog and Sonar Feed Podcast