Gonzalo Pineda 150417
Jennifer Nicholson

Sounders midfield is intact as the club prepares for Colorado Rapids

Lamar Neagle and his Sounders FC teammates are eagerly anticipating Saturday’s match against the Colorado Rapids. For Neagle it’s a chance to net his first goal of the season after scoring a career-high nine times in 2014, and for his team, it’s a chance to get back in the win column following a frustrating defeat to the LA Galaxy last weekend.

This could also be the first game of the year in which Neagle plays alongside each of the other three midfielders who were regular starters in 2014: Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda and Marco Pappa.

“Those are players you can’t really replace in Ozzie, Pineda and Pappa,” Neagle said this week. “Just having the same group as last year and building on it is great for us.”

Neagle has played in all five of the club’s matches thus far, but each of those fellow midfielders was out for at least one game. Alonso missed the first month of the season while recovering from groin surgery, Pappa spent some time with the Guatemalan National Team and Pineda sat out the LA game due to red-card suspension.

Pineda was away from the team earlier this week to be part of the FOX Sports 1 broadcast of the United States’ friendly with Mexico. Although he missed Thursday’s training session, Head Coach Sigi Schmid implied that the veteran central midfielder would be ready to go on Saturday.

Pineda brings a much different set of attributes to the game than 6-foot-2 Andy Rose, who started in his place against LA last weekend.

“Pineda’s a better passer out of the midfield, but Rose is a player that gets into the box,” Schmid said. “…So you add something and you lose something. But certainly [Pineda’s] passing, leadership and game savvy are always appreciated on the field.”

The presence of Pineda could be beneficial to Neagle and Pappa, both of whom have yet to score this year after playing a major role in Seattle’s historic 2014 season.

“I hope we can get more shots on goal and get some assists, because that’s what we’re trying to do,” Pappa said. “I helped by scoring goals last year, so I hope I can score some this year.”

In addition to each of the starting midfielders being available, Schmid said forward Clint Dempsey is likely to play on Saturday after missing the LA match with a hamstring injury. Neagle started in Dempsey’s usual spot last weekend, recording a career-high five shots on target. 

Saturday’s game against the Rapids will kick off at 6:00 p.m. PT with television coverage on JOEtv.

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