With five games left to play in the regular season, we’ve decided to try out a new feature called “Five things we want to see [this week].” The idea is to look more at the potential big-picture ramifications of each match.
This week’s opponent, the New York Red Bulls, pose an interesting challenge. On one hand, they’re the reigning Supporters’ Shield winners (not that anyone seems to remember). On the other, they’re in a bit of a tailspin right now with just one win in their past five outings.
1. Jordan Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz to pick up where they left off
Morris and Ruidíaz have only started together 12 times this year. But when they do, good things tend to happen. The Sounders are claiming 2.25 points (8-1-3) and scoring more than two goals per game in those matches. Their most dynamic match together was their most recent one, a 4-3 win over the LA Galaxy in which they both scored and had assists. If they can continue that sort of form, the Sounders should be fine.
2. Please, just don’t give up multiple goals
Look, a shutout would be great and Seattle hasn’t had one of those since July 27. But what’s even more maddening is that the Sounders have not held an opponent to fewer than two goals at home since July 19, a span of four games in which they’ve allowed 11 goals. So let’s start there: Just don’t give up more one goal. Please!
3. Figure out Cecchini’s role
With the squad nearing full health and time running out, the Sounders need to figure out their preferred XI. The biggest question, in our eyes, remains in the two players at the base of the midfield. We know Gustav Svensson is one, but who’s his best partner? Is it the defensive minded Jordy Delem? The more classic No. 8 Cristian Roldan? Or might Emmanuel Cecchini be the guy? We’ve not yet seen the best of Cecchini just in Seattle, so seeing a strong performance and a blossoming partnership with Svensson on Sunday would be great.
4. Get Victor Rodriguez through a match healthy
We’ve been down this road before, with Victor Rodriguez training in full all week only for him not to get off the bench. The Spaniard has now missed 10 straight and it’s becoming an open question as to whether or not he can be relied upon. Even if he never starts another match for the Sounders, simply knowing he’s available off the bench would be a huge bonus. Getting him onto the field and off of it still in one piece is where that starts.
5. Make a statement
Quick, tell us the last time the Sounders won a game by more than one goal. Did you guess March 16, when they beat the Chicago Fire 4-2, which was actually their third straight multi-goal victory? Well congrats if you did. It’s not that the Sounders haven’t beaten some decent teams since then, it’s just that they’ve failed to do so in the kind of convincing fashion that really makes us believe this team is capable of going on a run. There’s a universe where this match could be an MLS Cup Final preview, so what better way to showcase that than by trouncing the Red Bulls?