Three things to watch for: Sounders vs. Montreal Impact

Apr 1, 2016, 8:53 AM | Updated: 4:44 pm
The Sounders fell to 5-8-1 on the MLS season with their 2-0 loss to the Red Bulls Sunday....
The Sounders fell to 5-8-1 on the MLS season with their 2-0 loss to the Red Bulls Sunday.

The Sounders kick off their fourth match of the MLS season on Saturday night at CenturyLink Field against the Montreal Impact. Both teams had last weekend off and should be coming into the game with mostly refreshed players aside from those returning from recent international duty.

Recent signing Herculez Gomez could make a debut in either the starting XI or off the bench, but the Sounders haven’t made any other transfer moves as of right now.

Seattle is 0-3 on the season so far, and coach Sigi Schmid will do whatever it takes to end the losing streak and start clawing his team back up the Western Conference standings.

Here are three things to look out for when the match kicks off at 7 on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM (pregame coverage begins at 6:30):

1. Slight formation changes. Striker Nelson Valdez hinted on Wednesday that some changes could be coming to the way Seattle sets up its formation on Saturday. He specifically noted that rookie Jordan Morris was starting to look better and more comfortable in the middle, and that it could cause the Sounders to change things up a little to put their players in their best possible positions. Schmid made a similar note, saying that the team’s lackluster start could force some changes. “You always look at different options, and you always look at tweaking your team. When you are without a win at this stage, how can I maybe jump-start this? That’s something we’ve considered, along with five or six other options.”

2. Sounders need to halt Montreal’s momentum. The Canadian club is at the top of the Eastern Conference standings right now, having started the season with a 2-1-0 record. Montreal’s first loss came in Week 3 against FC Dallas, where it failed to score and lost 2-0. But the Impact scored three goals in each of its first two matches, against Vancouver and New York, proving just how dangerous the club can be up front. Midfielder Ignacio Piatti and forward Dominic Oduro scored in both of Montreal’s wins, with Piatti scoring two of the club’s goals against the Red Bulls. Luckily for Seattle, Montreal will be without star striker Didier Drogba due to the former Chelsea man’s distaste for turf like that at CenturyLink Field. Either way, Montreal earned both of its wins without the Ivorian, and thus is still rather dangerous going into Saturday’s match. Centerbacks Chad Marshall and Brad Evans (or Zach Scott) will need to keep an eye on Oduro for the entire match, and Osvaldo Alonso must keep Piatti quiet in midfield. He should be marked tightly and not given even a yard of space near the penalty box.

3. Last-minute lineup changes. Between players returning from injury and others coming back from international duty, the Sounders may make last-minute calls on some players. Evans, Seattle’s captain, has been participating in full practice since Tuesday and stressed that his shoulder has mostly healed, but he’s still trying to get match fit for Saturday. Clint Dempsey, Morris and Joevin Jones all played nearly the entirety of both of their countries’ matches, and as of now all are available for Saturday. The rumors that Jones came off near the end of Trinidad and Tobago’s match on Tuesday due to injury have yet to be substantiated, and Schmid said Thursday that Jones hadn’t been evaluated yet. If Evans is unable to play, we’ll likely see Scott in the lineup again. Dempsey and Morris are likely to start, but if one of them doesn’t, we could see Gomez make a surprise start. If Jones is unable to start at left-back, we could either see Dylan Remick or Oniel Fisher take his place. Fisher is naturally a right-back, but he’s been selected at left-back over Remick on a handful of occasions in the past.

Spenser Davis also covers the Sounders for Sounder at Heart.

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Three things to watch for: Sounders vs. Montreal Impact