St. Louis City locked up first place in the Western Conference three weeks ago. Their final home match will have an air of celebration for one of the most successful expansion seasons in MLS history. But the Sounders are still playing for second place, and they need to win for a chance to claim it. Let’s look at what Seattle faces in St. Louis, and what they need to change heading into the playoffs.
Sussing out Seattle
The Sounders' 3-0 win against St. Louis in April was arguably their last truly exceptional performance in MLS play. After struggling to play through St. Louis’ press in the first half, midfielders Josh Atencio and Albert Rusnák adjusted their positioning to exploit the spaces behind the opposition’s front three.
As the match wore on, and St. Louis tired, Seattle found space down the wings and put the game away. The Sounders have not won an MLS match by a margin of more than one goal since. Little did fans know at the time, but the concussion suffered by Cristian Roldan in that game would leave a major mark on the rest of the season.
But Cristian is back, and the Sounders have rebounded, albeit without the goal-scoring prowess needed to make fans very confident going into the playoffs. Against Vancouver, the Rave Green earned their sixth scoreless draw of the season. Heading into the final match of the regular season, the question remains: where will the goals come from?