Sounders 8-6-8, 32 pts, 4th place
Houston, 11-6-6, 39 pts, 1st place
Last meetings: 7/11/09 Sounder win 2-1; 7/21/09 Open Cup semi-final, Sounders win 2-1 OT
I'm still trying to get over the heartache of Thursday's loss to New England . My original preview included the line: "If we don't win this one, we don't deserve the playoffs." I'm glad I took it out of the final draft , but I still think I jinxed the game.
Luckily, we still have a chance at the playoffs. It is not a distant possibility, but in order to get there we have to turn things around and stop some current habits—habits like surprising everyone by winning games we're spozed to lose, and disappointing everyone by losing games we should win. To paraphrase Keller, after our phenomenal start, it'd be really sad if we didn't make it.
Today we play Dynamo in Houston. We've had two heated meetings with them already, once in regular league play, coming from behind for a 2-1 victory. Remember that one, when Montero's non-goal cleared from the line, but counted anyway? Yeah, that really pissed Houston off, so when they came back a few weeks later for the Open Cup semis, they were ripe for revenge. We stole that from them too, in overtime.
Talk about poking a 500lb gorilla-league leader by four points in the eye.
Now we're meeting them on their turf in disgustingly hot and humid Houston. I pity our guys just thinking about it. On the bright side, Houston's so good, they've found themselves playing 15 games in two months, thanks to the CONCACAF Champions League . So they may be really tired . That factor was neutralized the other day though with the announcement that they signed their first designated player, Mexican national Luis Ángel Landín. Check out his reverse bicycle heel goal in the news clip. Don't you wish Montero did that?
The Sounders will be back with Ljungberg —finally. His mysterious illness was only low blood sugar. Thank God, as MRIs (of your head) are really scary. Marshall will be back too, finally giving us the full back four that we've wanted for so long (So long. So. Long.)
Marshall, Hurtado, and Riley have been nearly impenetrable on defense and now form the backbone of the team. With Leo filling the gap on the left, they'll test their strength today.
Another test: Montero is out, suspended for knocking the ball from the keeper's hands like a five year old on Thursday. That's not necessarily a bad thing. After Thursday, I think everyone except Hurtado and Alonso needs some time off the pitch. Who'll replace Fredy? It damn well better be Le Toux. Nyassi in for Jaqua wouldn't be bad either. We can't have anyone playing less than 200 percent today.
And let's forget Thursday ever happened.