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Five things we’d like to see when Sounders host Real Salt Lake

Sounders are riding the longest run without allowing a goal from the run of play that MLS has on record.

SOCCER: OCT 23 MLS Cup Playoffs - Real Salt Lake at Seattle Sounders FC Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For as good of a start as the Seattle Sounders are off to, it bears repeating that they’ve got no room for error and it's imperative that they continue to pick up points during this home-heavy portion of the schedule. Despite their undefeated start, the Sounders are just one point ahead of the New England Revolution in the Supporters’ Shield standings. The Revs have also played one fewer home game.

Here’s what we’d like to see from tonight’s match against Real Salt Lake:

Keep the run going

It’s not really an official record since MLS only has data on it through the 2010 season, but the league did confirm that the Sounders’ current run of 810 minutes without allowing a goal from the run of play is the longest they have on the books. The Sounders have done this while starting two different goalkeepers, five different centerbacks and a rotating cast in the central midfield. The Sounders have been especially stout at home, where the only goal they’ve allowed in five games was on a penalty. RSL, meanwhile, have been reasonably good offensively — scoring about 1.7 goals per game without the help of any penalties — but are also overperforming their xG by quite a lot (+5.39). - Jeremiah

Shut down Damir Kreilach

As much attention as Rubio Rubin has rightfully received for his breakout season, the real engine for RSL’s offense has been veteran Damir Kreilach. Although Kreilach has been deployed mostly as a No. 10, he is more of a hybrid between a No. 8 and a forward than a playmaker. Whatever he is, it’s effective, as his 5 goals and 3 assists can attest. Kreilach poses all sorts of matchup problems because of his size and skill, but the Sounders seem to have the personnel to contain him. In five career appearances against the Sounders, Kreilach has been limited to just two assists — both of which came in the same game. If the Sounders can shut him down, they should shut down RSL. - Jeremiah

Will Bruin needs to start

With no disrespect whatsoever to Fredy Montero, the Sounders simply play better when Raúl Ruidíaz is partnered with Will Bruin for the bulk of the game. Bruin’s detractors will point to the stat sheet to say that he isn’t worthy of a starting spot, but that simply misses the mark completely. Soccer is a game of patterns and rhythm for the players. The defensive work and build-up work Bruin does for the Sounders is unmatched. He occupies and bullies opposing teams’ central defenders and creates space for Ruidíaz to work his business. Besides, I’m sure Fredy doesn’t mind coming on and scoring late goals to boost his goals per 90 minutes numbers. - Mark

Work Atencio back in

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve perhaps worked up the importance of Josh Atencio to an unfair degree, but it’s worth remembering that the 19-year-old was extremely effective in the two games he started prior to suffering an injury that has kept him out of the last seven. It’s also true that the Sounders have missed Atencio’s line-breaking passing and ability to cover a ridiculous amount of space. It would be perfectly understandable if Brian Schmetzer elects to bring Atencio off the bench, but getting him back into the midfield is the closest thing the Sounders will have to a game-changing addition for at least a few more weeks, and potentially until late summer. - Jeremiah

Put on a show

There’s no argument that the Sounders are the best team in Major League Soccer. We’ve been treated to some dominant games this season, but the last few matches have been a bit of a grind. With tonight’s match being the first ‘full’ match since before the pandemic, the Sounders need to put on a show. Let’s dazzle the Lumen Field faithful and the rest of the world. - Mark

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