April 25, 2010 MLS--Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders result, Sounders viewpoint (from MLSsoccer.com)

Schmid's lineup rotation a subject of debate
Manager's decisions yield one point over two matches

Andrew Winner MLSsoccer.com April 25, 2010 11:10pm 3 THINGS TO KNOW-Seattle manager opts for five changes to his starting XI
-Montero and Zakuani watch from the bench
-Sigi Schmid next faces his former team on May 1

It's a long season.

With the U.S. Open Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League on the long-term horizon, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid took the opportunity to give some seldom-used Sounders players a chance to play against Toronto FC on Sunday.

The unorthodox lineup was designed for possession, with five center midfielders deployed all over the field. Nathan Sturgis, a center midfielder, played on the left side. With no true strikers in the lineup, Seattle deployed midfielders Brad Evans and Freddie Ljungberg at the top of the 4-4-2 formation. Pete Vagenas and Osvaldo Alonso paired up in the middle of the park.

However, an opportunistic second-half goal from Toronto's Dwayne De Rosario threw Seattle's strategy into disarray as the visitors couldn't recover on a blustery and rainy Sunday afternoon at BMO Field.

With Seattle playing its third game in eight days, the Sounders opted to make five changes from the team that took the field against FC Dallas on Thursday.

Stalwarts Fredy Montero, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Steve Zakuani all started on the bench in Toronto. In their places, Sanna Nyassi, Patrick Ianni and Sturgis took the field. Leo González was replaced by Tyson Wahl at left back.

Goalkeeper Kasey Keller was between the posts for Seattle after recovering from a head injury on Thursday against FC Dallas.

If Seattle's strategy was to slow the game down and to keep it close, it was working early. There was only one shot on goal in the first half for either team, with Keller saving an excellent O'Brian White blast in the 10th minute. The first half was gritty, with several hard fouls and the game struggled to find a rhythm.

After Toronto weathered a spell of Seattle chances to begin the second half, the match looked like it would stay scoreless into the final stages, when Schmid would have the option to bring on Montero or Zakuani to steal an away win. However, those plans went awry following Osvaldo Alonso's uncharacteristic mistake that gifted Toronto the 1-0 lead.

It was a momentum-stifling goal from Seattle's perspective, as the visitors came out attacking in the second half and were controlling the match at the time of De Rosario's goal.

The TFC goal forced Schmid to bring his attacking talent off the bench almost immediately.

Zakuani was the first player picked to reinforce Seattle's attack and he was followed soon after by Montero. However, the task became that much more difficult when Tyrone Marshall's mishit pass opened the door for Toronto's second goal, a cross-and-finish from De Rosario to White, Seattle had to try to find two goals with a possession-based lineup.

Although there were chances for Seattle, the best opportunities did not trouble TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Just after halftime, Sturgis was sent through by Ljungberg but sent his shot directly at Frei.

Evans, who played commendably as a striker, was Seattle's most dangerous attacker. The 25-year-old failed to convert off a strong run that found him alone between the two Toronto central defenders. He had another shot in the second half saved by Frei off an excellent through pass from Zakuani.

Montero's saved shot in the 83rd minute was Seattle's last, best chance as Frei finished the match with four saves for the shutout.

Pat Noonan was supposed to start for Seattle, but was ruled out with an injury. Another potential starter, Michael Fucito, couldn't recover from a knee injury suffered last weekend and didn't dress for the match.

The team will fly back home in third place in the Western Conference, having earned two points from three away matches in 2010. Seattle's next match is at home against the Columbus Crew on May 1.

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