Sounders defense wary of Ángel, Barrett up top
TUKWILA, Wash. – From an individual standpoint, new Los Angeles strikers Chad Barrett and Juan Pablo Angel don’t present any surprises to the Seattle Sounders. Both players are well-known in MLS circles—Ángel scored 58 goals in 102 regular-season appearances over the past four seasons with New York while Barrett is entering his seventh season in MLS.
Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said his players know about each player’s individual skills. How the Galaxy’s expected forward pairing works as a team will be one of the interesting storylines in First Kick.
“Ángel is someone who is a fantastic finisher,” Sounders defender James Riley said two days before the match, "and Chad Barrett is definitely a proven goal-scorer as well."
Last week Ángel told LAGalaxy.com that “there’s still a bit of work to be done” in terms of playing alongside Barrett. Seattle’s defenders see the similarities between The Colombian and the player he was brought in to replace, departed Galaxy striker Edson Buddle.
“They are kind of similar,” said Seattle’s Jeff Parke. “They are both great in the air, both great in the box. I think Edson’s a little bit younger and quicker, but Ángel is more lethal when he gets the ball in the box.”
“It’s a battle. Barrett up top gives them a little more speed and a bit of an edge.”
Barrett is known as an industrious player. Although he doesn’t boast the technical skill of Ángel, Barrett is a tireless worker and his big body makes it difficult for defenders to knock him off the ball. Schmid, who is familiar with Barrett from US U-20 teams in the mid-2000s, said that the striker’s presence allows Ángel to stay in the middle of the field, where he is more dangerous.
LA hope the duo can replace the production of Buddle, who scored 18 goals last season and finished second in MVP balloting to David Ferreira.
With David Beckham expected to start for the Galaxy, both Riley and Parke stressed the importance of keeping a hand on Ángel at all times. Set-piece defense will also be important against LA, who can also bring Omar Gonzalez forward on free kicks and corner kicks.
Both Riley and Parke are expecting a close game.
“It’s going to be like last year,” Parke said. “It’s going to be edgy; it’s going to be tight. It’s going to be a good game.”
Injured Steve Zakuani and Brad Evans will be game-time decisions for Tuesday's match, Schmid said on Monday.
“Steve is still probably further along than Brad at this stage," said the Sounders coach, "but that’s a decision we will make tomorrow.”
After staying largely injury-free throughout the preseason, Seattle sustained the injuries to the two projected starters during last week’s Community Shield preseason finale against Colorado.