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Preview: FC Cincinnati vs Seattle Sounders

The Sounders travel to Cincinnati for the first time ever in what could be a preview of the MLS Cup Final

MLS: FC Cincinnati at Seattle Sounders FC Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Sounders are on the road for the first time this season as they travel to the state of Ohio to take on FC Cincinnati. After an admittedly easier start to their MLS regular season schedule, this is expected to be a much stiffer test for the Sounders and could be a preview of a potential MLS Cup Final matchup.

One key stat

2+ — Cincinnati has scored multiple goals in each of their last seven home matches, dating back to last season. That is the longest active streak in MLS (including playoffs). They are 4-1-2 in those games.

What the Sounders will try to do

It will be interesting to see if Brian Schmetzer and Co. decide to change their approach for this one. We’ve only seen two matches this season, so the sample size is very thin. In the first game of the season, the Sounders took what Colorado gave them and punished them over and over again. Against Real Salt Lake, the Sounders were much more methodical and in control for the full 90 minutes.

Given that Cincinnati is a much more dangerous team than either of their previous two opponents, I suspect we’ll see a more measured approach from Seattle. Their philosophy and approach don’t have to change much, but they do need to be more careful about Cincinnati’s dangerous counterattack.

An interesting thing to keep in mind: the Houston Dynamo were able to dominate possession in Cincinnati's home opener. They lost, obviously, but they also took 19 shots. I think if the Sounders take a similar number of shots on Saturday, they will win.

What Cincinnati will try to do

Cincinnati is a much, much better team than Real Salt Lake or the Colorado Rapids. Hell, they might even be better than both of those teams combined. This Cincinnati team is very good. Many national media members are picking them to win the Eastern Conference and compete for the Supporters’ Shield.

Alright, so what makes them so good? It may sound simple, but they’re solid at the back, have good midfielders, and have very dangerous attackers. They play with three centerbacks and two central midfielders who stay at home more than they adventure into the attack. Their whole thing is built around their three attackers: Brandon Vasquez, Luciano Acosta, and Brenner. Vasquez is a strong and tall striker who is great at holding up the ball so the rest of the team can transition up the field. Acosta is their creator and Brenner is a deadly finisher. They want to hurt you in these situations and don’t want much of the ball outside of these opportunities.

This is a big test for the Sounders defense.

Vibe check

It’s funny to say that the vibes are hampered because a backup striker got injured, but that’s the case for Sounders fans. On Wednesday, Héber pulled up with a hamstring injury and will miss 2-4 weeks. It seems like Raúl Ruidíaz is at least fit enough to start his first match of the season, which should improve morale a bit, but I don’t blame any Sounders fans for reflexively feeling like “here we go again” based on what happened last year.

How close to full strength is everyone?

  • Cincinnati could be without their starting right back Santiago Arias. He missed the match last week against Orlando with a leg injury after starting the season opener. Should he not be able to go, Ray Gaddis or Alvas Powell would probably start.
  • The Sounders will obviously be without Héber. Everyone else is presumed to be healthy enough for selection.

Projected lineups

Sounders (4-2-3-1): Frei; Nouhou, Ragen, Yeimar, A. Roldan; João Paulo, Rusnak; Morris, Lodeiro, C. Roldan; Ruidíaz

FC Cincinatti (3-4-1-2): Celentano; Mosquera, Miazga, Hagglund; Barreal, Moreno, Nwobodo, Arias; Acosta; Brenner, Vazquez

What you need to know

Sounders record (first place): 2-0-0 +6 GD

FC Cincinnati record (fifth place): 1-0-1 +1 GD

Where: TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

Kickoff time: 4:38pm PT

Commentators (AppleTV): Tyler Terens and Devon Kerr

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