Sounders’ depth getting an early-season test
It’s nice to have a deep roster. With a rash of injuries, the Seattle Sounders FC have been forced to use a variety of starting combinations the first two games of their MLS schedule.
Last week, coach Sigi Schmid inserted Gonzaga University alum Zach Scott at right defensive back in place of Adam Johannson (hamstring), and Roger Levesque for midfielder Mauro Rosales (sprained knee). The result was a 2-nil victory over the Houston Dynamo.
Rosales will likely be held out of Saturday’s home game against the San Jose Earthquakes. Schmid said forward Eddie Johnson’s hip injury is improving but suggested it might be prudent to rest him another week.
Seattle’s back line has allowed just one goal in the first two matches. Veteran Marc Burch has been everything the Sounders expected on the left side. He can lock down speedy wingers and build a quick counter-attack with accurate passes.
Burch is still adjusting to his new teammates since coming from D.C. United in the MLS re-entry draft.
“The way guys play in a game is a lot different than practice,” Burch said. “Getting more experience with the starting group makes me more comfortable. The more I play, the more I learn and the better we get as a team.”
Seattle’s defense will have its hands full with one of Major League Soccer’s most lethal goal scorers Saturday night. According to Burch, the Earthquake’s Chris Wondolowski makes you pay for any lapses.
“He makes a lot of great runs and is always in good spots,” Burch said. “You have to make sure you keep an eye on him. When he gets his goals it’s usually because people take an eye off for just a moment and he slips into his spot and taps it home.”
Burch, a 27-year-old Ohio native, picks his times to push forward in the attack.
“I like to have early crosses from deeper positions. David Estrada, Fredy Montero and Alvaro Fernandez make great runs,” he said. “It’s easier for me to just play the ball in and let them do their thing up front and try to hold it down in the back.”
While playing for D.C. United, Burch grew to appreciate Seattle’s home stadium. He’s been impressed even more after his first two games in rave green.
“Everybody talks about all year how they can’t wait to come out to Seattle,” he said. “You feel the energy no matter what. I think teams will always come into here (CenturyLink Field) and have good fight. The fans will always stay behind us and help out.”
Hear the Sounders-San Jose match Saturday night at 7 on 97.3 KIRO FM. Ross Fletcher and Kasey Keller describe the action. Matt Johnson hosts the pregame show beginning at 6:30.