It’s been more than two years since the Seattle Sounders last visited the Houston Dynamo. They’ll return there on Saturday, riding a four-game winning streak that has strengthened their spot atop the Western Conference.
Here are five things we’re hoping to see:
Return of the internationals
The Sounders played the Whitecaps missing a handful of internationals. Four of those players should be available and three of them are likely able to start, given the rest and/or limited workloads they had while away. Neither Xavier Arreaga nor Cristian Roldan started a game and only logged about 30 minutes between them, while Nouhou last played on Oct. 11. Inserting all three into the starting lineup should be doable and will allow the Sounders to start this final push of six games in 23 days on the front foot.
Keep the streak going
It wasn’t so long ago that the Sounders struggled to win in Houston. During their first eight years in the league, they were 0-5-4 there. But since losing the 2017 season-opener in Houston, the Sounders have gone 8-0-0 against the Dynamo, which includes three straight wins at newly renamed PNC Stadium. The weather in Houston usually poses some degree of challenge for the Sounders, but highs on Saturday shouldn’t get past the mid-70s and the humidity should be relatively low.
Feed the Bear
Will Bruin’s contributions have largely flown under the radar this year, but he’s quietly playing some of the best all-around soccer of his career. Bruin has scored in two straight games and has three goals and three assists over his past 10 competitive appearances. Beyond the goals and assists, he’s also providing the sort of link-up play that the Sounders need in their “house” formation. With Raúl Ruidíaz likely to miss at least the next two games, keeping Bruin playing well has to be a priority.
Crazy as it sounds, the Dynamo have won just 2 of their past 22 league games. But both of those wins were relatively recent and came at home. Notably, Fafa Picault scored three goals in those two wins. To the degree that the Dynamo are dangerous, it’s largely through Picault, who leads the team with 11 goals and 5 assists. Five of those goals have come in Picault’s last six games and nine have come in his last 12. The Sounders must keep an eye on the winger.
Maybe a little Morris?
It’s probably a bit too early for Jordan Morris to get back on the field, but Brian Schmetzer did leave open the door for that possibility. Morris was scheduled to join the team in Houston after meeting with his doctors, and Schmetzer allowed for the possibility that he could even suit up for this game. Obviously, Schmetzer shouldn’t push Morris, but seeing him get back on the field either this game or sometime in the near future will be amazing.