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Five things we’d like to see when the Sounders play Austin FC

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Finish the first part of the season strong

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

The Seattle Sounders will be facing Austin FC for the first time ever on Sunday. Austin started strong but have now lost three straight. This is a game the Sounders should absolutely win.

Hit the tape in stride

If you break the season into thirds, this marks the rough end of the first. There’s a bit of a natural break in the MLS regular season given that there’s three weeks off for international duty. The Sounders are off to their best start in their MLS history and they have no intentions of letting off the gas. Austin FC can be a bit of a tricky team because we know so little about them. Seattle needs to play their game and not allow the expansion team to feel comfortable. Let’s finish the start of the season strongly. -Mark

Get the most out of Raúl

No one has been better for the Sounders through the first seven games than Raúl Ruidíaz, who is second in MLS with six goals scored. Unfortunately, this might be the last time he suits up for the Sounders until mid-July as he’s set to join Peru for World Cup qualifiers and then potentially Copa America. Ruidíaz could end up missing nearly a third of the season, so if he has any hopes of winning the Golden Boot, he’ll need to take full advantage in games like this. Far be it for us to suggest tactics, but now would be a good time for his first Sounders hat trick. - Jeremiah

Defensive stability

The Sounders have the best defense in the league due in large part to the new formation. It gets the best out of the three of Nouhou, Yeimar Gomez Andrade, and Xavier Arreaga. After a bit of rotation earlier in the season, it seems like Brian Schmetzer has settled into playing his best backline. These are the three CBs that should start Sunday night and as long as they’re all available. The Sounders have still not conceded a goal from open play and there’s every reason to think they can continue that streak. - Mark

Put on a show

This will be the second game with fully vaccinated sections and will likely be the biggest crowd to watch a sporting event in Washington since March 2020. The Sounders weren’t able to put on much of a show for their relatively large crowd last week, but they’ll get another chance to do it on Sunday. Austin FC has been solid defensively and are good at possessing the ball, but can also be exploited on the counter. - Jeremiah

Do it for Stef and Nico

Schmetzer announced on Friday that both Nico Lodeiro and Stefan Frei have experienced setbacks with their respective injuries and will miss more time because of it. That’s really unfortunate because both players are great at what they do. Seattle has a history of being resilient in the face of adversity, so they should use these injuries as motivation to continue winning. Seeing the Sounders continue to perform well in their absence will hopefully help relieve any pressure they might be feeling to return early and, frankly, would make us feel a lot better too. -Mark

Projected lineup