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Five things we’d like see when Sounders host RSL in the MLS Cup Playoffs

Sounders are riding a 15-game playoff home winning streak.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

As the weather turns cold and the skies turn gray, the Seattle Sounders — especially under Brian Schmetzer — seem to only get better. For the 13th straight time, they are playing in the MLS Cup playoffs, a streak that ranks among the longest in North American sports and is already a league record. Now, they look to extend an even more impressive streak: winning at least one playoff game for the 10th straight year.

Here’s what we’d like to see when they host Real Salt Lake on Tuesday:

Just call him Mr. November

As good as Raúl Ruidíaz has been during his Sounders career, he’s stepped it up even more in the playoffs where he has 9 goals and 6 assists in just 959 minutes (1.40 g+a/90). With one more goal, he’d move into the top 9 playoff scorers all-time, a list that doesn’t include anyone with fewer than 21 games played. Put another way, no one has maintained this sort of scoring pace for anywhere close to this long in MLS playoff history. Even if Ruidíaz can’t go 90 minutes, he should be able to make an impact. If he can score at least one, he’d become the first Sounder to score 20 all-competition goals in a season. When he scores, the Sounders are 10-0-3 this season. - Jeremiah

Keep track of their stars

Real Salt Lake has a fairly straightforward plan for their attack. It involves Albert Rusnak picking up the ball as much as possible and having Damir Kreilach be in dangerous positions to finish chances. It’s one thing to identify a problem, but it’s another thing to execute a plan to stop it. The Sounders will need to be on it defensively to stop these two on Tuesday night. Rusnak is especially dangerous from set pieces and Kreilach can turn a nothing chance into a goal. Deny them service, win the battle. - Mark

Get on the board first

In at least the most obvious sense, the recipe for the Sounders’ success this year has been simple: score first. When they’ve managed to do that, they’ve gone 15-0-5. At home, they’re an even more dominant 8-0-1 when they get the first goal, including six straight wins. That’s obviously way oversimplified, but whether it’s simply a sign that they’re playing well or evidence that they actually play better once they have the lead, the results are hard to ignore. - Jeremiah

Force mistakes

RSL has been their own worst enemy this season. They constantly play themselves out of games with routine mistakes and have done so with two different head coaches this season. One way that the Sounders can take advantage of an error-prone team is by forcing the issue a bit. Attack and press them during their offensive transitions when they’re the most settled. Hurry their midfielders and be active in reducing passing lanes. If the Sounders can force turnovers in the middle of the field, there’s a good chance that’ll result in scoring opportunities. - Mark

Get the home groove back

Going simply by points per game, this has been the Sounders’ worst-ever home campaign. Still, with a 1.71 PPG and +13 goal-difference, the Sounders have hardly been bad and if a couple late shots off the post had gone in, they’d be right on pace with previous seasons. In other words, there’s no reason to think they aren’t perfectly capable of building on their MLS-record playoff home winning streak that currently stands at 15 games and stretches back to 2014. There have definitely been some close calls mixed in that run — and, yes, it includes a couple games that weren’t enough to overturn the aggregate score — but this is simply a team that does not lose at home when we get this late into the season. - Jeremiah

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