What You’ll Watch
The Seattle Sounders will look to end a two-game skid when they host the Colorado Rapids on Saturday. Seattle still remains in the sixth and final playoff spot, but there is little room for error as the season is winding down. This is the final meeting of the season between these two clubs.
Colorado is currently in 11th place in the Western Conference with a record of 6-17-6 (24 points in 29 games played; 0.83 ppg) and the Sounders are in sixth place with a record of 13-11-5 (44 points in 29 games played; 1.52 ppg). Last time out, Colorado lost 2-1 on the road to Columbus and the Sounders lost 3-0 on the road against Los Angeles.
A Look at the Enemy
Last Five: L-L-L-L-L with one goal scored and 15 conceded
Leading Goal Scorer: Dominique Badji (no longer with team), seven goals
Assist Leader: Edgar Castillo, five assists
Injury Report, Suspensions and International Duty
Out: Sam Nicholson (back injury) and Jack McBean (foot/toe injury)
International Duty: N/A
Out: Jordan Morris (torn ACL), Felix Chenkam (herniated disc), Harry Shipp (right hamstring injury) and Brad Smith (undisclosed injury)
International Duty: N/A
REFEREE: Nima Saghafi
AR1: Corey Rockwell
AR2: Felisha Mariscal
4th: Fotis Bazakos
VAR: Ramy Touchan
What to Watch
With a handful of games remaining, the Rapids find themselves in the basement of the standings and mathematically eliminated from the postseason. With all due respect to a struggling team, this is Seattle’s chance to be ruthless and efficient in dispatching a squad on the ropes. Watch for the Sounders to try to control the rhythm of the game from the opening whistle, and for Colorado to be doing all they can to disrupt it as the players fight for their jobs.
The only thing consistent about the Rapids in their last batch of matches is a changing lineup (OK, two consistent things if you including losing), and there are two reasons for that. First, they are aware their season ends in October, but it seems likely Hudson will get another year with the team to try to turn things around. He has been experimenting with different players, formations and tactics, perhaps to just throw the proverbial spaghetti at the wall, and surely to audition players in different roles for the changes likely coming in the offseason after a dismal campaign.
The other factor is a recent red card problem the Mile-high team can’t seem to shake. They went two players down against Real Salt Lake at the end of August and were summarily trounced. Last week the bug bit again, with Deklan Wynne sent off in the 51st minute during Colorado’s loss to Columbus Crew. Along with injuries, this has made consistency difficult for the Rapids. Edgar Castillo is Wynne’s likely replacement at left back.
What happens in front of the back line is a guessing game, with Shkelzen Gashi a likely starter after his sneaky free kick goal last week (though he has a lingering calf injury that could force him into a bench role). Kellyn Acosta will feature somewhere upfield as well (likely all over the place), and Dillon Serna and Jack Price are likely to be holding and distributing. There will probably also be forwards on the field for Colorado. The Rapids still have good players, and it’s important for the Sounders to key in on them right away.
The Sounders should not have trouble adjusting to whatever they face Saturday, and further contributing to Colorado’s second-worst goal difference league-wide, but they’ll need to be wary. As always, an early Seattle goal or two would go a long way towards derailing Colorado’s plans to find their first points since August 14.
- Prepare for anything. The Rapids are in experimental mode, and they have nothing to lose. While the Sounders will want to jump into a high flying home offense immediately, they should be at least somewhat conservative for the first few minutes to suss out what Colorado plan to throw at them offensively.
- Adapt to missing players. Missing Shipp and Smith disrupts the fairly consistent lineup Seattle has enjoyed in their late-season surge, and the XI on the field Saturday will need to adjust on the fly and find new solutions for attacking on the left. Cristian Roldan and Nico Lodeiro are particularly good at filling gaps and being wherever the game needs them, but the offense functions much better when they can predict when and where they can expect their outside players to be, and when they’ll need to fill in gaps by tracking back.
- Take care of business. A few weeks ago in the heady days of the record winning streak, we might have called this a trap game. After two straight losses have brought Seattle back to earth, the team will no doubt be prepared to do whatever it takes to guarantee three points at home. Stay laser focused for 90 minutes (Nouhou...), take care of business at home, and build toward the playoffs.
How to Watch
Date/Time: Saturday, September 29 @ 1:00 PM
Location: CenturyLink Field — Seattle, Washington
Streaming: YouTube TV
Radio: 950 KJR AM (English), El Rey 1360 AM (Spanish)