Ah, the fresh smell of a new MLS season. Nothing quite like it. The anticipation and hope is unmatched. It’s here. It’s finally here. Your Seattle Sounders are hosting the Colorado Rapids on Sunday evening in Seattle. Here’s everything you need to know about the game.
- Tactical adjustments made in preseason
- Four questions with a Rapids fan
- Everything you need to know about the 2023 MLS season
One key stat
8-6-0: The Sounders season opener record. They’ve never drawn the first match of the season in MLS play and they’ve only ever opened the season on the road once.
What the Sounders will try to do
Control. The Sounders’ key strength in this match and hopefully for most of the season is that they have the more talented starting XI. Concerns about quality of depth and health of an older roster exist, of course, but barring disaster the Sounders should be able to be the stronger team to start games.
What this means is the Sounders cannot allow their opponent to gain an early foothold in the game. They need to stay calm and trust their systems and each other. An early goal will allow them to control the game state even better.
What the Rapids will try to do
The Rapids had one of the busiest off-seasons in all of MLS this winter. They went under a complete overhaul of their roster and their most likely starting XI could feature five new players. Even still, they’re two years removed from finishing first in the West and they might have a worst roster than last season when they finished 10th. A healthy Jack Price should have a similar impact for them as a healthy Joāo Paulo does for us.
The name of the game for Colorado is to have the sum be better than their parts. They have, for my money, one of the best coaches in MLS in Robin Fraser and I’m sure they want people to not take them seriously. If the Sounders are sloppy in possession and transitions, the Rapids are a team designed to take advantage of that.
I’ll admit, I’ve been a bit surprised by the amount of doomerism around the Sounders preseason and offseason. I suppose missing the playoffs for the very first time will do that to folks. The first match of the season provides an opportunity for a new start and refreshed optimism. Even without Raul Ruidiaz, the Sounders should be able to not only win but put on a convincing show for fans to refresh their optimism for 2023.
How close to full strength is everyone?
- The Sounders are likely without Raúl Ruidíaz, who has yet to resume full training since suffering a hamstring injury about 10 days ago. Héber is expected to start in his place. Obed Vargas has also been ruled out.
- The Rapids have a few notable players listed as questionable for the match, the biggest of whom is presumed starter Jack Price (back). Jonathan Lewis (ankle) and Aboubacar Keita (knee) are also listed as questionable. If Price is out, the most likely replacement is U22 Initiative player Max.
Sounders (4-2-3-1): Frei; Nouhou, Ragen, Yeimar, A. Roldan; Rusnák, João Paulo; Morris, Lodeiro, Roldan; Héber
Rapids (4-3-3): Ilić; Gersbach, Maxsø, Abubakar, Rosenberry; Bassett, Price, Ronan; Cabral, Rubio, Galvan
What you need to know
Sounders record last season (11th place): 12-17-5
Rapids record last season (10th place): 11-13-10
Where: Lumen Field, Seattle, WA
Kickoff time: 5:25 PM
Commentators: Mark Rogondino and Heath Pearce (MLS Season Pass); Nate Bukaty and Tony Meola (FS1).