Both teams tilt toward the same side of the field. New York Red Bulls are one of the biggest left leaning teams in Major League Soccer. Seattle Sounders FC uses the middle slightly more than most, but has two dynamic players on the right. That same third of the field could be a leading factor in Sunday’s 6 pm PT contest on ESPN.
It is interesting because while Seattle’s right side is well known to fans of the league due to two straight strong years of Mauro Rosales and the All-Star season of rookie right back DeAndre Yedlin, New York’s left side is a bit less known to long-time followers of the league.
David Carney is an Australian international who spent a few years in the English Premier League, but last year played for an Uzbek club where he helped them make a deep run in the AFC Champions League. Now with Red Bulls he’s the regular left back.
He gets wider the further forward he goes, and as a converted wide midfielder he goes forward quite a bit.
At midfield, the New York club took Jonny Steele (he’s not a super hero, just a soccer player) after his option was not picked up by Salt Lake. With RSL last season, Steele was a substitute wide midfielder in a diamond formation. With RBNY he’s a very wide midfielder that rarely gets into the middle. He does have four goals on the year, but it is his strong crossing foot that’s earned him six assists on the season.
That image makes it quite clear how wide the two operate. They leave space for Tim Cahill to work his magic, as well to stay out of likely non-traveler Thierry Henry’s way. In their last match they had more passes between each other than any other pair of New York players.
Against New York’s two wide players Seattle will deploy the speedy local Yedlin and the new version of Rosales that dives into the middle to create during the run of play as one of the central midfielders slides a bit to that side.
There are many ways to define matchups in soccer, but when one team uses a particular part of the field so heavily and the other by design occasionally empties that sector the two v two battle could define a match with a few stars missing.