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Five key things for Seattle to beat Austin FC

Saturday’s game will be smokey, hot and could just be the fire to surge towards another playoff run.

Nouhou blocks a shot back when Austin came to Seattle in 2021
Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Austin FC is a tier one team in 2022. The well-supported side that channels supporting vibes of Cascadia deep in Texas struggled early, but is now fully capable of winning the Supporters’ Shield. Their season is a story of success.

Their history against Seattle Sounders is a story of struggle. Seattle is 1-0-2, +1 against the less intense green. Will Bruin and Raul Ruidiaz have goals against Austin, while Diego Fagundez has their only goal against the Sounders.

Austin is 2-2-1, -1 in their last five road games. Seattle is 3-2-0, -1 in their last five matches at home.

Run it back

Seattle looked strong in the 4-2-3-1 with two teens as their 6s when they beat Houston Dynamo. Head coach Brian Schmetzer should bring it back. Everyone is on normal rest, and now they have two weeks of playing like they did. That should make the attacking band better. Albert Rusnak, Nico Lodeiro and Jordan Morris were a bit off. If those three can be back to the level of their last fully healthy year, the offense will be a juggernaut — to be honest, if only two of them can do that they’ll be potent enough to win.

The two DMs looked very good. They should be able to play together longer this game, as Josh Atencio’s fitness wasn’t 100% as he has been returning from injury.

A projected lineup for Seattle Sounders hosting Austin FC. They are in a 4-2-3-1. Frei; Nouhou, Arreaga, Yeimar, A. Roldan; Atencio, Leyva; Rusnak, Lodieor, Morris; Ruidiaz.

New Nouhou, the old Nouhou

Yeah, Nouhou scored!

But, there were moments in the past year where scoring seemed more important to him than anything else. Perhaps that goal and beautiful assist will provide just enough inspiration to Nouhou that he’ll be back to the form that we’ve grown to love — a potential Defensive Player of the Year.

Seattle could use that. The offense isn’t good enough at this time to have to score 3+ goals to win.

Plus, he’s probably facing off against the weak side of Austin’s attack. That would be great. Peak Nouhou can shut down 40% of the field.

Shade Druissi

MVP candidate Sebastián Driussi will be a challenge. He’s almost always on the left wing, which means a likely matchup against Alex Roldan with some support from Jordan Morris. It would be better if Seattle shaded Danny Leyva over rather than dropped Morris back.

Roldan, with Leyva in support, needs to limit Druissi’s touches and forces his forward passes to be exceptional three-dimensional hooks and slices. Don’t allow Druissi to play simple or he’ll crush the Sounders.

Run right by him

Austin’s fullback situation is Nick Lima on their right and a bunch of dudes. Those wide spaces are where they are most hollow, and those are also the places where Seattle’s second-best attacker has thrived in 2022.

Free Jordan Morris to be the big burst agent that he can be.

Already with 10 goals and 5 assists in all competitions this season, Jordan can return to what earned him the All Star Game by collecting a half-dozen combined goals and assists during this run-in.

Every match is a Final, and Seattle is rather good at those

You read it and you loved it. The team’s theme is that every match is a Final. How good is this team in Finals while under Brian Schmetzer?

  • CCL — one final; one big-ass win
  • League Cup — one final; one narrow 3-2 loss that included two penalties against
  • MLS Cup — four finals; one awesome win, one grindy trophy raising, two losses

Other finals in Sounders history? Five Open Cups with four wins. Two for three in USL Championships under Brian Schmetzer. Two for two in the A-League championship. Two appearances in the final during the NASL era.

There is both recent success and a collective history that says this is a team capable of going on runs as an underdog, earning the right to play in knockout rounds and then winning.

This is our tradition, our history and our insufferable banner we wave at every opportunity.

Drink water

This sixth item is about you. There will be heat — highs are forecast to be just about 90 degrees. There will be wildfire smoke — the AQI is already over 100 in most of Western Washington and is expected to get worse throughout the day.

Matchday is a vital community endeavor for many of us. The best way to combat both the heat and the smoke is to be well hydrated. Another great way to battle the smoke is to wear a mask — you likely still have many.

Stay safe. Support strong.

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