SANTA CLARA, CA - MAY 13: James Riley #7 and Miller Bolanos #17 celebrate after Jose Correa #27 scores a goal against the San Jose Earthquakes in the first half of the game at Buck Shaw Stadium on May 13, 2012 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Without a win in their past three games and fresh off a shocking home loss to the Columbus Crew, the Sounders will be desperate for a positive result at the Home Depot Center.
Things have not been going well for the Seattle Sounders as of late. After a torrid start to the season, the Sounders have gone cold, losing two out of three with a come-from-behind victory against Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps the only saving grace. The Sounders have just looked out of sorts these past few weeks, and it's clear that they're desperately in need of a confidence-building win in order to get things turned back around. The rhythm the Sounders appeared to be working into in the midst of an early-season injury crisis has abandoned them, and in its wake has left a supremely talented by completely disheveled side that for long stretches appear to have never before played together.
These things happen over the course of a season, and at this point there's not much reason for serious concern. MLS is a league of extreme parity after all, and it's not as though the Sounders have at any point had to retreat with their collective tail between their legs; even the embarrassing loss to the Columbus Crew came with some genuinely compelling caveats. But the fact remains, Seattle desperately needs to turn things around. These things can snowball, and with the specter of sputtering starts these past few seasons hanging over their shoulder it would be shame if the Sounders were to waste a very impressive start and allow a swoon to set in heading into the summer months when things have had a tendency to heat up.
Unfortunately, Chivas USA is not as easy a win as they may have once seemed. The Sounders will be without Osvaldo Alonso, Adam Johannson, Leo Gonzalez and Patrick Ianni, while Chivas has ridden a recent hot streak to a completely respectable place in the table with the best seemingly yet to come. These do not seem to be the Goats of yesteryear; Chivas looks a genuinely dangerous team, with young (though frustratingly inconsistent) attacking talent all around and a newly stout defensive unit that's allowed less than a goal per game to this point in the season. Given the way the Sounders have struggled to put goals on the board to this point, that back line will be of serious concern, and with an attack that appears to be on the verge of busting out completely at any given time, that's going to make for an uneasy game unless the Sounders are able to break through early. Which, in case you haven't notices, has not exactly been a strong point this season.
A loss in this game would be a pretty terrible way to enter the international break, and with the opening salvo in Seattle's defense of the US Open Cup coming up this Wednesday, any added vulnerability will make for an altogether more nerve-wracking affair. But even without Alonso and roughly half of the defense, the Sounders are easily good enough to take all three points from an improving but far from complete Chivas side. It's just a matter of putting things together, and that has been the rub so far this season. Even when the Sounders were winning games and looking dominant week-in-and-week-out, they weren't often able to put things beyond doubt. Now that they look something significantly less than invincible, translating that typical dominance of the run of play to dominance of the scoreboard will be vital, in more ways than one.