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Eastern Conference Championship

Match Preview: Seattle Sounders vs. Montreal Impact

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC vs MONTRÉAL IMPACT
CENTURYLINK FIELD, Seattle, Wash.
March 2, 2013 (WEEK 1, MLS Game #6)
7:30 p.m. PT (KING-NBC; TVA)

The CenturyLink Field faithful will get their first look at their heroes when the Montréal Impact make their first visit ever to take on Seattle Sounders FC in MLS competition. Sounders FC are coming off a first trip to the Western Conference Championship a year ago, where their run was stopped by the eventual champions. Now with a new man in charge in Marco Schallibaum, the Impact begin their second season in Major League Soccer.

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REFEREE: Silviu Petrescu. SAR (bench): Darren Clark; JAR (opposite): Kevin Duliba; 4th: Alejandro Mariscal
MLS Career: 58 games; FC/gm: 27.5; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 8; pens: 7

DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: SUSPENDED: SEA: Osvaldo Alonso (through March 3); Marc Burch (through March 3)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (1 meeting): Impact 1 win, 4 goals … Sounders FC 0 wins, 1 goal … Ties 0
AT SEATTLE: First meeting.

LAST YEAR (MLS):
6/16: MTL 4, SEA 1 (Martins 18; Mapp 51; Wenger 58; Neagle 87 – Johnson 61)
•    This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
•    The Impact won the only meeting between the teams in their inaugural season, a 4-1 victory at Stade Saputo.
•    The clubs have never played in MLS competition in Seattle.
•    Coaches record: Sigi Schmid vs. MTL: P1 W0 L1 D0 … Marco Schallibaum vs. SEA: first game

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
In 2012, Seattle Sounders FC made it one step farther in their quest to reach MLS Cup, falling in the Western Conference Semifinals after finally getting over the quarterfinal hump. Sounders FC have reached the MLS Cup Playoffs in each of their four seasons in MLS, all under the direction of head coach Sigi Schmid.

WATCH: The Scouting Report on the Seattle Sounders

TEAM NEWS
•    Sounders FC ended their preseason campaign with a 1-0 victory against Real Salt Lake in the final of the 2013 FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. The game’s lone goal was scored by Alex Caskey in the 51st minute.
•    Here’s the Sounders FC team: Marcus Hahnemann, Dylan Remick, Eriq Zavaleta, Ashani Fairclough, Marc Burch, Lamar Neagle (Kevin Durr 90+3), Servando Carrasco, Andy Rose, Alex Caskey (Jennings Rex 86), David Estrada (Philip Lund 66), Sammy Ochoa (Travis Bowen 66).
•    In the preseason finale, Schmid ran out three rookies in his back four – including No. 1 draft selection Eriq Zavaleta, who also played as an out-and-out striker in college.
•    "I thought the guys did great," Schmid said. "It shows the depth of our team. We're playing with three rookies in the back four. I thought the center backs played really well. ... I thought they were solid."
•    It was also a clean sheet for veteran goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, who made five spectacular saves.
•    “I’ve never relied on my quickness,” Hahnemann said. “I’ve always just been about positioning and making them beat me. That’s the part you don’t lose, which is one of the things where someone like me can go a little bit longer than somebody who relies on their quickness.”
•    Sounders FC concluded their preseason camp with a 4-1-1 record, with Schmid also trying to juggle his squad rotation with matches against Tigres UANL of Mexico in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on March 6 and 12 following the MLS season opener.
•    “The team feels good about themselves, but preseason doesn’t mean anything—they know that. What was really good was we were able to finish this week. We’re a week out and we were able to get almost all of our players 90 minutes and that’s what we feel really good about,” Schmid said. “We know we’ve got to play some guys—we’ve got some guys out with red cards in the first game—but I think all the guys got a chance to show what they can do. I think we’re set.”
•    Sounders FC were missing Designated Player Christian Tiffert during their two-week stint in Arizona.
•    “There’s things that are being discussed in regards to Christian but that’s a better question for Adrian [Hanauer, Seattle’s general manager] as far as where that is,” Schmid said. “He’s not with us right now. He’s training on his own there. He seems to be doing all right with things that were bothering him at the time. Now, it’s gone into another phase.”

OFFSEASON TRANSACTIONS

IN: DF DeAndre Yedlin (01/11/13 - Homegrown); FW Eriq Zavaleta (1/17/13 - SuperDraft); MF Lamar Neagle (1/27/13 - trade from Montreal); MF Shalrie Joseph (2/19/13 - trade from Chivas USA); DF Dylan Remick (2/22/13 - SuperDraft); DF Djimi Traoré (2/23/13 - free)

OUT: GK Andrew Weber (12/3/12 - option declined); FW O'Brian White (12/3/12 - option declined); MF Mike Seamon (12/3/12 - option declined); DF Jeff Parke (12/7/12 - traded to Philadelphia); FW Fredy Montero (1/21/13 - loaned to Millionarios)

MONTREAL IMPACT
The Montréal Impact begin their second MLS season with a new coach in charge, Marco Schällibaum taking over after nearly 10 years of Swiss Super League experience, replacing Jesse Marsch. In their expansion season, the Impact finished seventh in the Eastern Conference, with 42 points from 34 matches.

WATCH: The Scouting Report on the Montreal Impact

TEAM NEWS
•    The Impact ended their preseason with a 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew in the final of the 2013 Walt Disney Pro Soccer Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Kissimmee, Fla. The game’s lone goal came from Justin Mapp nine minutes into the second half.
•    Here’s the Impact team: Troy Perkins; Jeb Brovsky, Matteo Ferrari, Alessandro Nesta, Hassoun Camara; Patrice Bernier, Justin Mapp (Sanna Nyassi 81'), Felipe (Collen Warner 81'), Davy Arnaud (Calum Mallace 81'), Andrea Pisanu (Andrés Romero 71'); Marco Di Vaio (Andrew Wenger 76')
•    “We are very satisfied with the tournament. We finished this game very professionally and we were almost perfect defensively,” said Impact head coach Marco Schällibaum. “We came away with the trophy and are heading back on a high note.”
•    Schällibaum has been trying out a number of tactical systems throughout the preseason, but in the Disney final, again lined up Marco Di Vaio as the lone striker in front of a five-man midfield.
•    “It feels good, even though it’s just preseason, but it’s our last game leading up to the opener next weekend,” said Justin Mapp. “I think we’ve gotten what we wanted out of this trip and it feels good to leave with a good taste in our mouths and confidence going into next week.”
•    The Impact have featured Italian journeyman Andrea Pisanu from the start wide in the midfield. Pisanu joined the Impact on loan from Bologna and played with Di Vaio in 2010.
•    Di Vaio and Nesta have also been with the club throughout the preseason. Last year, both came to MLS after completing their seasons in Italy’s Serie A.
•    “It’s always fun to win this type of event,” said defender Hassoun Camara. “We got to work on all the stuff that we’ve been practicing during the camp and now we head back ready to work for next Saturday’s game.”

OFFSEASON TRANSACTIONS

IN: MF Andrea Pisanu (1/4/13 - loan from Bologna); FW Andrés Romero (2/7/13 - loan from Tombense); MF Blake Smith (2/25/2013 - SuperDraft); M Wandrille Lefèvre (2/26/13 - Homegrown); D Maxim Tissot (2/26/13 - Homegrown)

OUT: GK Greg Sutton (10/26/12 - retirement); MF Evan James (11/19/12 - option declined); DF Shavar Thomas (12/3/12 - option declined); DF Josh Gardner (12/5/12 - traded to Sporting KC); MF Lamar Neagle (1/27/13 - trade to Seattle)