Last weekend, the Rapids played to a 3-3 tie, playing with 10 men for two-thirds of the game. We saw three new player bag goals: Kei Kamara, Benny Feilhaber, and rookie Andre Shinyashiki. Despite the cold, the snow, and the red card, our team still looked to be playing well and offered a brief look at what else we might come to expect from the remainder of the season. Seattle is looking to be relatively balmy compared to the Snow Clasico, as temperatures should be in the low 40s on Saturday.
Seattle kicked off their season with a 4-1 rout of MLS newbies, FC Cincinnati, thanks largely due to a brace from homegrown striker Jordan Morris. He hasn’t seen an MLS start since September of 2017, having spent the entirety of the 2018 season out due to a torn ACL. Obviously, it is way too early to call it after the first week, but people are already whispering that he might become the comeback player of the year.
Morris definitely had a great game, but Seattle has been a tremendously successful team thanks to a completely stacked roster. This year, their three DPs are Nicolás Lodeiro, Víctor Rodríguez, and Raúl Ruidíaz. Aside from them, they also have the return of the aforementioned Jordan Morris, USMNT player Cristian Roldan, and Swedish player Gustav Svensson, who lasted longer than anyone in MLS in the World Cup last year. These guys make up the attacking six for the Sounders and are a fearsome lineup for sure. Their defense is similarly talented, led by one of the best MLS goalkeepers, Stefan Frei. This is a scary good roster.
I’m expecting them to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, similar to last week. This is more or less the same formation that they played in throughout the 2018 season, which led the Sounders to win all but two games through their last 16 matches in the regular season.
For the Rapids, I expect to see the 4-4-2 diamond formation again, albeit with a lot of moving players. We’ll have to deal with the absence of Axel Sjoberg, who will be suspended for his red card in the Timbers game last weekend. Combined with numerous injuries, our back line may be quite short on starting caliber talent. Our midfield and offense should be firing on all pistons for the game though. Expect to see Diego Rubio and Kamara at the top, with a mix of Nicolas Mezquida, Kellyn Acosta, Feilhaber, and Jack Price rounding out the midfield.
I wouldn’t read too much into Seattle’s match last weekend. Cincinnati are brand new to MLS, but honestly don’t look like they’re ready to compete with the big boys. With a roster composed primarily of MLS castoffs and young draft signings, they didn’t make much of an impression against the Sounders. Compare that to our previous match, which saw us take a point from the MLS Cup runner-ups after going down to 10 men just 27 minutes into the match. We saw sparks of genuine talent and offensive threat — something we were sorely lacking in 2018.
If we can walk away from this game with three points in hand, I think that would send a serious message across MLS that we are no longer the team we once were. Here’s hoping that we can beat the Flounders on their own turf!