Looking to earn its third straight home victory, Sounders FC hosts Toronto FC on Saturday at CenturyLink Field. Here to provide his thoughts on the match is Steve Zakuani, who scored against Toronto FC twice in his Sounders career. Zakuani will be calling Saturday’s match on JOEtv alongside Ross Fletcher.
On staying motivated after a huge rivalry win:
I think for the Sounders, it’s all about keeping the momentum going. A couple of weeks ago they had a huge victory against Orlando, and then there was a letdown at Salt Lake. So they definitely want to keep that momentum going this time. You can’t win a game and then lose a game during these final seven matches. You’ve got to put a run together, and I think this is a good chance to get two wins in a row. It’s all about momentum.
This is the last Eastern Conference game, and then every game after this is going to be huge because it’s against a Western Conference team. At this point it’s about results more than performance. They have to play well, but if they win every game playing the way they did against Portland – which wasn’t their best game – they’ll take it. They’ll be in the playoffs.
On Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco’s absences:
It’s going to be a huge impact. There’s no way around it. They’re losing 20-plus goals between them, so that’s a tough break for Toronto. But at this level, you always have players that on any given day can step in and make a difference. Seattle can’t take Toronto lightly just because those two guys are missing. They still need to respect Toronto, which is another team that’s looking to make sure they get into the playoffs.
Giovinco being out is huge. Altidore being out is huge. But I still think Toronto is a good enough team to cause Seattle problems if the Sounders take them lightly. They might not be attacking as much being on the road, but Seattle has to be ready no matter who they put out there.
On Stefan Frei’s current form:
Stefan has been huge. I remember we came into the league at the same time, and he played a lot of games as a rookie but then had some injuries. He had a good year last year, and I think this year he’s been phenomenal. In recent weeks he’s really stepped up his game and been vocal back there. In the last game, he was super vocal. He’s stepping into more of a leadership role.
It’s been great to see him make some big saves as well. You need that from your keeper. I played against him a few times, and I’ve always loved the way Stefan plays. If he keeps up the form he’s in, you always have a chance of getting a shutout.
On why Ozzie Alonso is so valuable:
Consistency. You know what you’re going to get from him every single game. He does the defensive side of the game so well, but he’s also a huge part of the attacks. He starts a lot of the attacks by getting the ball and finding Oba [Martins] and Clint [Dempsey]. He’s very, very good with the ball. I thought when he came on against Portland, that’s what he brought. More than just organizing the Sounders defensively, he was able to help them keep the ball and move it around a bit more.
We all know he’s going to keep an eye on the other team’s dangerous attacking players, but what he’s so good at is getting the ball from the centerbacks and launching the team’s attacks. He’s very consistent. He’s been there since day one, and I think he realizes his importance to the team. That helps him play even better.