TUKWILA — Through two games, no team in MLS has looked quite as comfortable in such varied aspects of the attack as the Seattle Sounders. The Sounders lead the league in both “build-up attacks” and “direct attacks”, while also ranking among the leaders in various proactive defending categories.
But those two games were also played at home against opponents who were both somewhat short-handed and likely to be sitting closer to midtable than contending for a top spot.
FC Cincinnati, meanwhile, is a potential Supporters’ Shield contender that is effectively fully fit and playing at home.
“It’s going to be a great test,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer stated rather succinctly.
It’s a test the Sounders seem to be itching for after a pair of dominant displays.
“It gives us the confidence to go on the road and replicate the performance,” Sounders midfielder Albert Rusnák said. “We want to go into the Cincy game with the same mentality and mindset. We don’t want to drop off just because we’re going on the road. The style that we try to play has to stick with us whether home or away. It will be tougher but I don’t see why we can’t.”
The Sounders have long prided themselves in not having to dramatically alter expectations when they travel, but their 12 road losses were tied for the most in MLS last season. They seem intent on showing that was an aberration.
“This is the expectation,” Rusnák said. “We have quality, experienced players that have played at a high level for long enough. This is what we want to do pretty much every game. This is the level that we set and the level that’s expected of us. That’s why everyone was calling it a failure last year when we didn’t make the playoffs.
“Now the challenge is to try to be consistent. Every game won’t look as good as the last two but we have to aim for that.”