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Preview: Seattle Sounders at Houston Dynamo

The Sounders are deep in the heart of Texas on Saturday.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Houston Dynamo FC Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Sounders are coming off a loss to the LA Galaxy midweek in the US Open Cup as they travel to take on the Houston Dynamo. Entering a busy period of the schedule, the Sounders are dealing with some key absences. Can they shake off the rust against the Dynamo? Let’s see how this one looks.

One key stat

5 - The Dynamo currently have five straight clean sheets at home.

What the Sounders will try to do

The Sounders have lost their way a little bit over the last month or so. Things aren’t a disaster by any stretch, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t areas that need to be improved upon. Given the general health of the roster, Seattle could do well by returning back to basics.

We may see a lineup similar to those we saw early in the season. Jordan Morris will almost certainly return to the left wing with Heber starting up top. The biggest question coming into the match is where do you play Albert Rusnak? My preference would be to play him up a line at right-mid, allowing for more dangerous options in possession. This would allow Josh Atencio to play alongside João Paulo, which theoretically protects the backline better. The Dynamo will be tough to break down and a more aggressive approach might be necessary.

What the Dynamo will try to do

Houston are one of the candidates for surprise of the season so far. They’ve got a modest points total through nine matches played under new manager Ben Olsen. They’re an efficient team who are more than the sum of their parts.

When you peek under the hood on the Dynamo, you don’t see much. They’re set up well defensively, have an active and effective midfield that will smother you, and just an okay forward line. They’ve only scored 10 goals this season and four of them have been penalties. They lack a true goal-scoring threat and a creative fulcrum of their team. The scouting report tells you to limit their set-piece chances and don’t foul them in the penalty area.

Vibe check

It goes without saying that things could be rosier around the Sounders camp. A few bad results will do that. Away matches in Houston have bad vibes around them, but the Sounders have won 4 of their last 5 trips there. This is a good (better?) Houston side, but I think Seattle should be thinking about picking up some confidence from this match.

How close to full strength is everyone?

  • Houston will be missing their two starting CBs for this match.
  • The Sounders are entering a very busy part of their schedule and will be missing a handful of core contributors. Obed Vargas is at the U-20 World Cup, while Léo Chú will miss this match due to the birth of his child. Cristian Roldan, Nouhou, and Raúl Ruidíaz are still out.

Projected lineups

Sounders (4-2-3-1): Frei; Baker, Ragen, Yeimar, Roldan; João Paulo, Atencio; Morris, Nico, Rusnák; Héber

Dynamo (4-3-3): Clark; Escobar, Micael, Bartlow, Steres; Artur, Herrera, Carrasquilla; Bassi, Baird, Franco

What you need to know

Sounders record (1st in the West, 3rd in the Shield): 6-3-2, +9 GD

Dynamo record (6th in the West, 13th in the Shield): 4-3-2, +2 GD

Where: Shell Energy Stadium, Houston

Kickoff time: 5:39 PM PT

Commentators (Apple TV): Mark Rogondino and Heath Pearce

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