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Preview: Seattle Sounders vs St. Louis City SC

First place in the Shield standing is on the line

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at LA Galaxy Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Sounders host St. Louis City SC this weekend in a top-of-the-table clash. Before the season, I don’t think anyone thought that City would be this good, but the reality is they are, so here we are. If the Sounders are able to beat the expansion side, they’ll go top of the Western Conference.

One key stat

9 or more — No player has scored more than nine goals in their first seven appearances of the season. Jordan Morris currently has eight goals through six appearances, if he scores two or more goals, he will set the record.

What the Sounders will try to do

We are entering a period of time where we could easily say something like “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in this section and move on. However, that’s not very fun to read or write. The Sounders absolutely cruised to a 2-0 lead at halftime against the Galaxy thanks to the continued brilliance of Jordan Morris and Léo Chú. Things got much tougher in the second half as the Galaxy changed formation and approach, but Seattle still saw out a win.

Saturday night poses a much more interesting challenge for the Sounders. They haven’t played particularly well against teams that press well like LAFC and FC Cincinnati. Brian Schmetzer also has a bit of a selection headache on his hands as he has about 15 players that can claim they deserve to start. Do they try to play “their way” of possession or do they take a more pragmatic approach against an intense team?

What City will try to do

St. Louis has taken the league by storm with their high press and João Klauss’ invisibility cloak. They score a lot of goals by the way of opposing teams passing them the ball. Beyond that, they’re one of the most intense pressing teams MLS has seen in recent years. It’s no surprise since Bradley Carnell worked under Jesse Marsch at RBNY.

Against teams on the road, City has taken a more nuanced approach at times. Instead of being all-energy all-the-time, they sit in a very compacted and narrow midblock, waiting to pounce like a tiger. That’s how they absolutely blamo’d Real Salt Lake in the second half of that match. Seattle is the best team they’ve played so far, so I anticipate they’ll have a more conservative approach.

Vibe check

The Sounders are going to need to beat very good teams this season if they want to be a very good team. There’s still some surrounding doubt around just how good St. Louis is, but at this stage of the season you can’t argue with their record. It’s an absolutely massive game. There’s fewer things more beautiful than when the Sounders kickoff at Lumen Field as the day starts turning to night. It’s an opportunity for Seattle to turn their homefield into a fortress.

How close to full strength is everyone?

  • St. Louis has some youngsters and fringe players on the injury report, but their best XI and subs are completely healthy.
  • The most notable name to show up on the injury list this week was João Paulo, who tweaked his hamstring and is listed as questionable. Considering how early it is in the season, the Sounders are unlikely to push him into the lineup.

Projected lineups

Sounders (4-2-3-1): Frei; Nouhou, Ragen, Yeimar, A. Roldan; Lodeiro, Atencio, Rusnák; Chú, Morris, C. Roldan

St. Louis CITY SC (4-4-2): Burki; Nelson, Hiebert, Parker, Nerwinski; Ostrak, Lowen, Vassilev, Stroud; Gioacchini, Klauss

What you need to know

Sounders record (2nd in the West, 2nd in the Shield): 4-1-1 +9 GD

St. Louis CITY SC record (1st in the West, 1st in the Shield): 5-1-0 +10 GD

Where: Lumen Field, Seattle, WA

Kickoff time: 7:39pm PT

Apple Commentators: Max Bretos and Brian Dunseth

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