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Five things we want to see when Sounders visit D.C. United

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After their midweek tie, Sounders almost need to pick up points.

MLS: D.C. United at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

This will be the first time that the Seattle Sounders have ever visited Audi Field. They’ll be hoping to carry their form from RFK Stadium, where they were 4-1-1. Here’s what we’re hoping to see when the game kicks off on Sunday at 5 p.m.

Close to full-strength squad

A few days ago, we urged Brian Schmetzer to use as full-strength of a squad as possible for the in-conference game against FC Dallas. He didn’t exactly ignore us, but several key starters got the day off, including Jordan Morris and Brad Smith. The thinking was that a win in that game would render this game far less important. Unfortunately, they dropped points and now they probably need to get something from this one. Even with Nicolas Lodeiro out with a lower-back injury, there’s no reason the squad shouldn’t be capable of pulling out a positive result.

At least one point

Speaking of which, the Sounders absolutely need to get a point in this one. Most of the results this weekend have so far worked out OK for the Sounders, but this is almost as much about positioning in the West as it is in the Supporters’ Shield table. The Sounders can’t catch LAFC and they almost certainly won’t catch New York City FC, but they need to do everything possible to finish ahead of everyone else in order to give themselves a reasonable chance to host MLS Cup. D.C. have the fewest home wins of any team in playoff position and more than only four teams in the whole league.

Saad Abdul-Salaam showing well at centerback

The Sounders have always had a “next man up” ethos surrounding the team. They’ve also always tried to have quality in depth. Xavier Arreaga unfortunately picked up two yellow cards on Wednesday against FC Dallas, so he will be suspended for the match on Sunday. With Roman Torres still suspended, we can only assume that Saad Abdul-Salaam will fill in at centerback against DC. It’ll be a tricky test for the fullback-by-trade, but I think he’s up for it.

Keeping Cristian Roldan on the wing

Part of what makes having Roldan on the team so great is his versatility. He can be great in a handful of positions. But, with the playoffs right around the corner, we need to see Roldan stick to one position so the team can solidify. With Lodeiro out, there’s going to be an urge to move Roldan to the No. 10. Personally, though, I think his best position is on the wing and that’s where he should stay. Since making the move there this year, he’s got three goals and two assists in four games. Plus, with Roldan on the wing, we can see a Svensson-Cecchini pairing at center mid. That excites us.

Finish strong against East

It’s gone highly unreported at this point, but the Sounders have been dominant against the Eastern Conference this year. They’re 7-2-2 for the year (2.10 points per game) against the East, which includes a solid 2-2-1 record on the road. To put that record into perspective, LAFC have a 2.13 PPG for the season. D.C. United are just 5-5-1 against the Western Conference.

Our preferred lineup