Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/2/14
MLS Cup Berth? After what many could call a tumultuous off-season, the Seattle Sounders are wrapping up their pre-season with a spot in the Desert Diamond Cup final vs. rivals Real Salt Lake. They are starting off where they finished last year, on the way to a cup final, except this time they actually made it. We will have to wait and see how the outcome of this match unfolds, but if it’s anything like the rest of the Tucson pre-season schedule, another piece of silverware will be making the trip north with Sigi and the boys. So here are my 5 fearless predictions for the Sounders as the 2013 season is nearing. Seattle will forget about Montero Okay, maybe not, but with Eddie Johnson being the lone superstar up front, his goal total should be up near what Chris Wondolowski had for the Quakes last year. But that is a big should. We all know what type of player EJ is, but we will also have to remember his time spent in Europe as well. Sure, he is older, wiser, and more in shape than back in those days, and with the added glory of being back in Jurgen Klinsmann’s good faith on the National Team, his confidence should be soaring. If that is the case, it will make it easier for us fans to let go of Freddy Montero’s absence. Montero is a player whom will never be forgotten in these parts, and his departure, though expected, was not an easy one to swallow for a lot of fans. Even though Montero is only on loan at Millonarios, the team would have to relinquish one of the DP slots to retain him once again after this season. Sounders will make it to the semis in the CCL Home and home aggregate situations have not been the Sounders strong point in their brief history in the MLS. This should be a familiar sight this year, Johnson celebrating goals (Photo: Sports Press NW) Starting on March 6th, SSFC will travel to Mexico to face Tigres in the two-part aggregate match in the CONCACAF Champions League quarter finals stage, the second leg will be played at home on March 12th. Last year the Sounders lost to eventual Cup runner up Santos Laguna, by an aggregate score of 3-7, despite taking a 2-1 lead down to Mexico after the first leg. This season the team hopefully will be a bit more focused heading down south for the first leg, knowing that they can come back home and finish up in front of the raucous crowd at the Clink. Winning not only brings bragging rights to both the MLS, and the region, but it also brings an invite to the prestigious Club World Cup Championships. What a great honor that would bring to this city. Joseph will become the next Alonso With the acquisition of Sharlie Joseph from Chivas USA, the Sounders now have possibly the best mid-field in the MLS. Osvaldo Alonso, who is by far the best holding defensive mid-fielders in the MLS currently, will have some help in the middle this year. Joseph, who may also see some time as a defender, will bring added muscle, skill, and know how to the Sounders already deep center mid-field. This will also allow the chance for Brad Evans to get some more time as an attacking mid, or out on the flanks opposite of Mauro Rosales. This move could also change up the standard 4-4-2 that coach Sigi Schmid liked to use for much of the last season. Eddie Johnson is the type of player who likes to create opportunities and scoring chances on his own, the new look sounders could go with a 4-5-1 to start out the season. The addition of Joseph means a tougher mid-field. (Photo: Sounder At Hear)   Cascadia will be ours Barring another freak set of performances against the leagues doormat Portland Timbers again this season, the Cascadia Cup will most surely be put back to rest upon its mantle in Seattle. Both the Vancouver Whitecaps, and Timbers have gotten better this offseason, with both teams benefiting in the trade for Nigel Reo-Coker, but the Whitecaps got better instantly. And that will help them in what has already become the most heated three way rivalry in North American sports. But, this is the Sounders we’re talking about. We may have lost out last year, but history shows that this is our competition, just like the US Open Cup. You can knock us down, but not out. MLS Cup Champions If we went by last years rosters, the Sounders hold the edge over Cup champions LA Galaxy. Hell, even if we go by this years rosters, the Sounders still hold the edge. Gone is David Beckham, older is Robbie Keane, and unsure is Landon Donovan. They still have the trio of Brazilian players, but Juninho is the only really dangerous one out of that group. Bruce Arena is kind of like the Phil Jackson of the soccer world. Take away the unity of his three stars, and we wonder what kind of coach he really is. Well, this year we will get to witness that first hand. Landon Donovan is oft injured, and contemplating retirement, and with the heart and soul of this Galaxy team unsure of himself, where does that leave the rest of them. I’ll tell you where, about 4th or 5th in the conference, that’s where. The Sounders should be a top two team this year, with the Quakes being the other half of that combo. RSL will challenge the west, as will the Whitecaps I believe. But the Sounders will be the team to beat in the Western Conference in 2013. So let’s dust off our scarves, and get ready to scream our lungs out for the only team that matters in the USA! Go Sounders! CLICK HERE CHECK OUT OUR SOUNDERS FC BLOG AT THE NWSB!
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