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Five things we want to see when the Sounders host the Rapids

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Let’s see if the Sounders can create some space between them and the Rapids.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

At the beginning of the season, Seattle Sounders fans were probably not expecting a very meaningful match against the Colorado Rapids in October — let alone two! But the Rapids have put together the surprise campaign in MLS this season, and the match on Sunday has huge implications on who will end up finishing at the top of the Western Conference. Here are the five things we want to see from the game:

Score early

In three of Colorado’s four losses this season, they’ve conceded a goal inside the first 15 minutes of the match. That’s hardly a trend or anything, given how good this Rapids side is, but it’s a dent in the armor that can be targeted for exploitation from the Sounders. Unfortunately, Seattle’s strength isn’t necessarily doing this. They’ve only scored twice this season inside the opening 15 minutes of a match. Now would probably be a good time to get another, though. - Mark

Unsettle the consistency

Colorado is not a glamorous team, but they are good. It’s sort of hard to explain why the Rapids are good, but there’s something to be said about not being bad and also being remarkably consistent in MLS. They don’t have a double-digit goalscorer, but they have 15 players with at least one goal. By contrast, the Sounders obviously have Raúl Ruidíaz but only have 12 goalscorers. The Rapids have the second-best defense in the league thanks to having a very consistent backline and midfield duo in Kellyn Acosta and Mark Anthony-Kaye. Colorado is better than the sum of their parts. Robin Fraser deserves all the credit for making the Rapids good, and hopefully he’ll finish second in the Coach of the Year voting. - Mark

Strongest possible XI

The Sounders schedule has been pretty brutal recently, given they went to the Leagues Cup Final and they’re catching up on their games in hand. Brian Schmetzer elected to make some changes midweek against San Jose and that worked out just fine. Against Colorado the Sounders need to put out their strongest possible starting XI. Assuming Jimmy Medranda is available, Nouhou has to start over Shane O’Neill at centerback. Although he’s listed as day-to-day, there’s a good chance Ruidíaz is out. We assume that means we’ll see Will Bruin as the roof on the ‘house’ formation with Rowe and Cristian Roldan behind him. That would likely mean Josh Atencio getting the nod next to João Paulo in the foundation. - Mark

Shine Fredy, shine

No one seems to enjoy facing the Rapids more than Fredy Montero. In 14 career appearances against them, Montero has 8 goals and 7 assists. That works out to 1.17 goals+assists per 90 minutes. But after playing 90 minutes at midweek and Schmetzer’s reluctance to start Fredy on short rest, we suspect he’ll be coming off the bench. Given his form against the Rapids, that’s probably still plenty of time to make an impact. - Jeremiah

Home and hosed

“Home and hosed” is a British term meaning, “having successfully achieved or being within sight of achieving one’s objective.” Not to pound the same drum over and over again, but the Sounders’ home form has pretty much cost them a chance at winning the Supporters’ Shield. Even without that, it’s a frustrating trend. This match on Sunday against the Rapids is, on paper, their most difficult home game remaining. It’s obviously an objective for the Sounders to be good when they play at Lumen Field. Winning on Sunday means they have a chance to end the season very strong at home. - Mark