Looking to bounce back from consecutive 1-0 losses, Sounders FC is on the road for its only game of the season against the Montreal Impact. Here to provide his thoughts on the match is Taylor Graham, former Sounders defender and current broadcaster and Senior Director of Business Operations.
On what is crucial to winning on the road:
Whether you’re playing in Montreal or anywhere else, you want to make sure you’re good at the same things. Possession is very important. When you don’t have the crowd in your favor, it makes it more likely that you’re going to be defending for long periods of time. So when you do win the ball, how many passes can you connect? It’s about having that extra energy when you need to close down players to either prevent service or make them go sideways or backwards.
You really need to maximize possession when you do have that opportunity. The Sounders have been very consistent defensively, but in the last couple of weeks, they’ve needed to be more dangerous in front of goal. So those two things – possession on the ball and consistency on offense – will be important.
On Erik Friberg's first match since rejoining the Sounders:
I think you saw bits and pieces of what Erik can bring. He’s good in possession. It was tougher to keep the ball – I think the surface created some challenges for both teams – but you saw elements of what he wants to do. He wants to get on the ball. He wants to be active, and he can cover ground. He’s a box-to-box player. But he’s still getting his legs under him, and he’s still trying to find his fitness. That’s not going to change in one or two weeks. He’s going to slowly grow into it.
He needs more time on the field to connect with some new faces. There’s only five or six guys here from when he was here last, so while he knows the league and knows the referees, he still doesn’t understand the personalities and strengths of each individual player. Whether you should play the ball to someone’s feet or play someone into space – These are the subtleties that come with playing for a team for an extended period of time.
On Troy Perkins facing his former club in Montreal:
I don’t know what it’s like to be in goal against your former team, but I definitely know what it’s like to play against a former team. It brings a different emotional challenge. Your preparation is the same, but for me, there were always more butterflies. You’re trying to prove a point. You’re trying to make a statement, and you’re also trying to solidify your position with your new team.
You’ve got multiple emotional instincts that are kicking in. Not that anyone needs more motivation to bring his best, but any time you’re playing against your former team, it’s always something in the back of your mind.