The Sounders are back in action against the Colorado Rapids on Sunday following a hard-fought 1-0 victory against the Houston Dynamo at midweek. They will look to extend their win streak to three leading up to their five consecutive home matches starting next weekend against Charlotte FC.
Here’s what you need to know:
There were more ideal-XI players in Wednesday’s lineup than I think most of us expected. There were 10, to be exact. It earned the Sounders three points on the road against a solid Dynamo team, but not without taking a toll on the squad’s fitness level. The guys looked gassed after 60 minutes, and of the starting XI, only Kelyn Rowe and Jordan Morris played less than 80 minutes of soccer. It would be a huge ask from Brian Schmetzer to tell that core group of guys to start a third match in eight days. However, he will inevitably have to find the balance between giving some of the guys a well-deserved rest and setting the guys up for success.
Missing pieces for both squads
There are going to be some big exclusions from both squads. There are a few (yes, a few) red-card suspensions to consider, as well as injuries. As most of you reading this will recall, Alex Roldan received a late red card on Wednesday. This will make him ineligible for selection on Sunday. Along with Alex, João Paulo is obviously still unavailable. For Colorado, things get a bit more exciting. The Rapids had TWO men sent off in the span of five minutes against Sporting Kansas City. Defender Auston Trusty, who recently signed a contract with English giants Arsenal, was administered two yellow cards resulting in his suspension for Sunday’s match. About five minutes later, the match took an unexpected turn. SKC winger Daniel Salloi performed a reckless and unnecessary challenge on Nicolas Mezquida, prompting defender Lucas Esteves to sprint to the scene and forcefully shove Salloi to the ground. A red card was issued to Esteves immediately following the incident, so he, too, will be unavailable to the Rapids on Sunday. The other unavailable players for the Rapids are Aboubacar Keita (ACL), Oliver Larez (knee) and Braian Galvan (ACL).
Playoff position within reach
It is mathematically possible for the Sounders to leapfrog the four Western Conference teams currently sitting on 15 points with a win on Sunday, but it would take a lot of help from elsewhere. Four things would need to happen: The Sounders would need to win their match against Colorado, Portland would have to lose to the Philadelphia Union, Minnesota would have to lose to Dallas, and Houston would have to lose to the LA Galaxy. It may seem silly to obsess over the Sounders’ chances of ending the week in a playoff position with two-thirds of the season yet to be played. I get that. But how cool would it be to say that we went from dead last with a CCL trophy to 7th place with a CCL trophy with 2 games in hand in a matter of two weeks? It would feel pretty awesome.
Historically, Seattle has been the better team
The Rapids and the Sounders have a decent-sized history, with MLS matches dating back to 2009. The matchup has been dominated by the Sounders both home and away. In 30 matches played, the Sounders have won 21 and drawn 3, leaving a grand total of only 6 losses to the Rapids in over a decade. In fact, there is no team in MLS who has beaten any opponent more often in that time than the Sounders have beaten the Rapids. But the more relevant statistic would probably be the Sounders' away record, which is still positive, but not as flattering (8-5-1). My biggest takeaway from the record is that a winner typically emerges from this matchup.
Weather has always been a factor for any MLS team traveling to play the Rapids. From snowstorms to scorching heat, Denver has it all. On Friday, Denver residents were alerted of a winter weather warning that promised to produce 2-5 inches of snow overnight. And while the weather for kickoff is currently listed as 55 degrees and cloudy, I would not be shocked to see some late and unexpected twists.