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Week 30: A look ahead to Seattle Sounders

The Rapids hit the road again, this time to Seattle.

The Colorado Rapids head out to Seattle this weekend to play the last of the Cascadia teams for 2018.

The Seattle Sounders have been a wildly inconsistent team this season. They started this year in a terrible run of form, but then went on to play a 2018 record of nine straight victories, five of which were at home and the other four on the road. They played against powerhouse teams such as NYCFC, FC Dallas, and Sporting Kansas City and walked away with three points from each game. They have been the biggest comeback story of the year, by far.

Much like Columbus Crew this last weekend, Seattle is dedicated to playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Their goalkeeper is, of course, Stefan Frei, the Swiss keeper who has made a full 150 appearances for the team since he joined in 2014. Their back line consists of Brad Smith, Chad Marshall, Kim Kee-hee, and Kelvin Leerdam. These five have made Seattle the defensive powerhouse they are, letting in just 32 goals over their 29 games, leaving them tied with the New York Red Bulls for the league best at the time of this article.

Their defensive midfielders are Osvaldo Alonso and Gustav Svensson. Svensson should be noted for being the last MLS player to be featured in a World Cup roster this year in Russia. Their offensive midfielders are Victor Rodriguez, DP Nicolas Lodeiro, and Cristian Roldan. They are doing fairly well this season, with a handful of goals and assists each. Nothing special, as Lodeiro leads the team with goals at seven. I know we shouldn’t complain right now seeing as how our leading goalscorer has only three goals, but we also traded away our best goalscorer. I bet solid money Badji would be close to—if not past—the double-digit line by now had we kept him.

These players all have helped Seattle to become one of the most frustrating teams to play against. It seems that time after time, when we play Seattle we walk away with a lot of cards and a frustration with VAR and the referees. Last time, Seattle played us on the Fourth of July at home and we racked up six yellow cards. They got only a single card, very very late in the game. Partially because of this, Seattle sits at the lower end of Fouls Committed, with 305 compared to our 403. Their Fouls Suffered sits at 376, compared to our 353. Expect a very physical game with us—unfortunately—getting the majority of fouls called.

That being said, the Seattle offense hasn’t been quite what they had hoped. They had to deal with an unfortunate season-ending injury to Jordan Morris, their young Homegrown player who has the potential to play with the USMNT, as well as the recent retirement from their DP and USMNT all-star Clint Dempsey. As such, they needed to bring in reinforcements over the summer window and they absolutely succeeded by picking up Raúl Ruidíaz, a striker who formerly played for Liga MX club Morelia and the Peruvian national team. The new DP has provided a critical spark for their offense and they have only had two losses since he joined the team, both in the last two games.

It seems as if every time we play Seattle, we end up complaining about how the refs went ahead and showed nearly infinite mercy to Seattle all the while punishing us for the slightest mistake. Last week’s episode with Deklan Wynne showed that there won’t be any slack for the Rapids this year. In order to walk away with points, keep us above San Jose, and hopefully leapfrog Orlando City, we’re going to need to keep a level head for 90-plus minutes.

Seattle will be wanting to get what they see as an easy three points from a team that has already been mathematically eliminated from the playoff race and will try to keep themselves above the line. Don’t let the physicality of Seattle mess with the Rapids dictating the rhythm of the game, and we can hopefully walk away with at least a point on the road and snap that losing streak.