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Scouting Report: Sounders welcome a new baby second year in a row

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The Sounders will hope to start the 2019 season off better than the last three seasons.

MLS: Carolina Challenge Cup-Columbus Crew at FC Cincinnati Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

What You’ll Watch

The Seattle Sounders hit the pitch for the first time in 2019 when they welcome the newest team in MLS, FC Cincinnati, the CenturyLink Field on Saturday, March 2 at 7:00 PM. This is the second straight year that the Sounders will host the newest team in the league, but this season they will hope for a better result.

Cincinnati is led by Alan Koch, and he will try to replicate the success that LAFC had last year in coming to Seattle and winning. There is one name that you will definitely recognize when you look at Cincinnati’s roster: Fanendo Adi. The former Portland Timber was traded to Cincinnati during the middle of the 2018 season.

Kendall Waston, formerly of the Vancouver Whitecaps, was named the club’s first-ever captain and is yet another name that Sounders fans are familiar with. There are other names as well that you will recognize, but nobody wants to really spend time reading the names. You are here for the good stuff.

Injuries, Suspensions, International Duty

FC Cincinnati

Out: N/A

Questionable: N/A

Suspensions: N/A

International Duty: N/A

Seattle

Out: N/A

Questionable: N/A

Suspensions: N/A

International Duty: N/A

Match Officials

REF: Christopher Penso

AR1: Jeff Hosking

AR2: Nick Uranga

4TH: Victor Rivas

VAR: Chico Grajeda

AVAR: Eric Weisbrod

What to Watch

Formation: Big ol’ shruggie! Probably a fairly straight-up 5-4-1, or maybe a 5-3-2 if Koch has developed a lot of trust in his wingbacks being able to get up and down.

Primary paths to goal: Bunker-counter via long ball seems the most likely initial tactic. Adi has already expressed concern that he isn’t getting enough support out of the midfield; not a surprising thing given Cincinnati’s lack of central attacking talent. Their secondary path is probably the wings, with a focus on the left side. There are quality attacking outside backs to lean on for service (Greg Garza and Alvas Powell), an overabundance of left wingers, and no natural right wingers.

Defensive structure: Yes. Cincy seems to have dedicated its entire first off-season to building a defense of MLS-tested players. I expect there will be a strong emphasis on pinching teams narrow into the teeth of their centerbacks and central defensive midfielders to limit the amount of time the wings are held deep and required to defend.

What to keep an eye on: How effective are the wings in getting forward and supporting Adi? If they’re able to play the channels well and the outside backs are able to push high, there’s a chance they’ll put up a decent fight. It will also be interesting to see how Emmanuel Ledesma, last year’s USL MVP with 16 goals and 16 assists, is able to translate his previous success into MLS.

How to Watch

Date/Time: Saturday, March 2 @ 7:00 PM

Location: CenturyLink Field — Seattle, WA

TV: FOX Sports 1

Streaming: YouTube TV

Radio: 950 KJR AM (English), El Rey 1360 AM (Spanish)