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How You Doin'? Seattle Sounders

Dave Clark of Sounder at Heart stops by for a chat prior to Saturday's match in Seattle

Jennifer Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Kicking off Waking the Red's build in the 26th game of the 2015 season, WTR exchanged some questions with Dave Clark of SB Nation's Seattle Sounders site, Sounder at Heart, to shed some light on the opponent from their perspective.

Question the First
Seattle appears to have woken from a months long slumber that saw them drop nine of eleven matches through the summer. What were the reasons for the slump, have they truly emerged from it, and if so, what has been responsible for their turnaround? Also, what sort of concerns does such a run bring to the fans?

The reasons for the slump were pretty simple - absences. Those absences were due to injury (Alonso, Martins, Frei, Gonzalez, Barrett, Dempsey), international duty (Dempsey, Evans, Pappa), and suspension (Dempsey, Pappa). That's all three pre-Summer Window Designated Players and four other players that won the Supporters' Shield in 2014. While the Sounders may have been deeper than most teams, the damage was large.

But, starting throughout August that started getting corrected. This weekend they may only be down new signing Roman Torres and Marco Pappa. Since they added Ivanschitz (who probably plays this weekend) and Valdez (who certainly plays this weekend) and Friberg (who certainly plays this weekend) they are stronger than they were prior to June 16th, even with those national team losses.

The justifiable panic is now being toned back. Seattle isn't in the clear. The hole they dug themselves is quite large, but we have hope again. It's so nice to have hope again.


Question the Second
Sigi Schmid knows MLS, there is no doubt about that. The poor run of form saw a variety of additions brought to the club in the form of Roman Torres, Nelson Haedo Valdez, and Andreas Ivanschitz. All three of those players are proven quality, but working new pieces into the squad at such a late point in the season can be tumultuous. How will they fit into the side and is it possible that there will be disruption as a result?

The Summer window started with Erik Friberg. The former Sounders/Malmo/Bolgna center mid. Friberg helps anchor possession and improve defense, plus he knows several players on the team already so his addition was simple. Most people in Seattle overlook it. Then the flood of new talents came.

First up was Nelson Haedo Valdez. The club had previously tried to snatch him away from a La Liga side, but couldn't get it done. Now three years later the former teammate of Obafemi Martins is a third forward/winger who loves being here. He's getting paid on time (see time in Spain, Russia), enjoys the crowd and enjoys the contact level of MLS. Valdez is hungry for the ball and applies high pressure after turnovers. He's only got one goal, but looks to score more.

Second in the late wave was Austrian winger Andreas Ivanschitz. We haven't seen him play yet as he suffered a minor injury, but should factor this weekend. His playing style is kind of like Mauro Rosales with a strong cross and great set-piece delivery. With most of the staff speaking German he should integrate fairly well.

Lastly Garth Lagerwey scored his big coup - Roman Torres. The Panamanian CB is one of the top defenders playing club ball in CONCACAF. Torres is a beast. Seattle now has two towers guarding their line with possession fullbacks flanking them. Where Marshall can start a break with his head, Torres is a much better long passer. He also improves Seattle's set-piece attack.


Question the Third
A couple of TFC legends now ply their trade in Seattle – it is a term applied loosely in these parts. How are former Toronto players Stefan Frei and Chad Barrett doing these days?

If Bill Hamid didn't exist Stefan Frei would have a chance at keeper of the year. In 2014 he was a pretty good keeper, but what we've seen in his growth to 2015 is an exceptional keeper. TFC fans will know him for his shot-stopping capabilities. What's been great is seeing him start commanding the line. At any given time he has a three-time Defensive Player of Year, US National Team player or Panamanian National Team player in front of him. He still tells them what to do, what they get right, what they get wrong. He's learned this game and is currently a top three keeper in the league. Thanks for sending him our way.

Chad Barrett had a great 2014. It was one any player would love to have with his seven MLS goals and two more in the Open Cup he seemed to be a quality supplemental forward when Dempsey or Martins was out. This year is different. He looks bad, has been injured as well and is struggling with just four goals.


Barbed Question
It is well established that Seattle invented soccer, supporter culture, coffee, and MLS, yet they have still never won the damn thing. Is this the year it finally happens?

We'll invent winning the whole damn thing in December.


Predicted Lineup: Frei; Fisher, Marshall, Evans, Mears; Thomas, Alonso, Pineda, Friberg; Martins, Haedo Valdez

Dempsey and Ivanschitz will be available off the bench.


Many thanks to Dave for spending some time with Waking the Red – he can be followed on Twitter @bedirthan – and be sure to check out all the latest Seattle news over at Sounder at Heart.

Waking the Red's answers to their questions can be found here.