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Signal Intel: On Shipp, Jones and beating the Sounders

Some familiar faces likely in the Seattle starting XI for tonight’s showdown with the MLS Cup champs

MLS: Toronto FC at Seattle Sounders FC
Too bad the Fire can’t find an attacking wingback like Seattle’s Joevin Jones, amirite?
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

For this week’s pregame intel, we hooked up with Dave Clark, founder and managing editor of Sounder At Heart - dig:

Hot Time: Please discuss how much pleasure the Joevin Jones Experience has given Sounders fans (for the low, low price of $70k in allocation)?

Sounder at Heart: On a team with Nicolas Lodeiro and Clint Dempsey the most effective creator is the left back. There are tactical reasons for that, but to pay too much attention to them would be to ignore that Jones is entering his prime. Joevin's physical abilities are as good as ever and now he sees the game. His passing is generally good, crosses are low and he mixes in dribbles at intriguing moments.

He is a rare asset in this league - a game-changing fullback. He also may be just old enough that MLS is the last league he will ever be in, which is great for Seattle. He can fit the style of play here as long as he wants. Hopefully Lagerwey finds the money to keep him for several more years.

HT: The book on the Sounders is pretty simple - the offense is persuasive and sometimes lethal, while the defense seems weirdly permeable even in the best of times. Is the book wrong? Is it too simple? Educate us.

SaH: This year's attack is predicated on possession, nearly constant possession. It does not move quickly so counts on individual moments of brilliance to break through defenses that generally bunker against it. There are times when it works (at LAG), vs NER) and times when it fails (vs TFC). It can be a bit vulnerable on the counter. Both the Revs and Toronto got some joy by exploding out to just one or two attacking players ready to take advantage of the 4th string defense that was high up the pitch. The combination of using a high block and depth players has hurt the defense this year. The attack is mystifyingly inconsistent.

HT: Now that you've had a few months with your gently-used Harry Shipp, what's the feeling about him in Seattle? Should we expect to see him on Saturday?

SaH: Prior to getting Shipp he seemed to be a nimble little American attacking player with decent passing and a dribble. He's becoming more than that. He is now a more than adequate defender even as one of the two defensive mids. Harry reads games well and is working on adding both primary and secondary runs to his game because he knows he won't get much of the ball so he wants to do something with it when he sees it. That's a fun pickup for a team to have as either its 5th/6th attacking player or their 4th defensive midfielder.

Lineup prediction: This lineup is quite difficult to predict. There are a recently healed injuries that have a few players who aren't fully fit able to return, but there's also the game at Sporting midweek next week. Let's add in that Jordy Delem (the 4th RB, 6th CB, 5th CDM) is suspended.

My best guess is: Stefan Frei; Joevin Jones, Gustav Svensson, Roman Torres, Brad Evans; Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan; Harry Shipp, Clint Dempsey, Nicolas Lodeiro; Will Bruin