Storylines is happy to see Major League Soccer action return to Allianz Field for the first time in over a month, though admittedly not thrilled about the opponent. The Sounders may not be heading to the Twin Cities in great form, but history doesn’t seem to think that matters very much in this matchup.
The boys from Emerald City have proven to be enigmatic foes for Minnesota United since they joined the league, with the Loons accruing a 1-1-11 all-time record against the Rave Green. They’ve had our number more often than not, but fate may be on our side this time around. When the match begins this weekend, Seattle will be nursing some lingering injuries, a theme that has dominated their 2023 season thus far.
Though they’ve seemingly recovered from the lackluster 2022 campaign that saw them miss the playoffs for the first time, 2023 hasn’t been smooth sailing for Brian Schmetzer’s squad. A woeful performance in Leagues Cup and a poor run of results in recent times have left the Sounders looking vulnerable, and their injury woes haven’t helped matters at all.
Every team deals with a few knocks each season; soccer is, in fact, a contact sport. People get hurt, despite the super-helpful shin guards everyone has to wear. But for Seattle, the injuries have come thick, fast, and to several key players at inopportune times. They’ve been forced to adjust on the fly, never really getting a chance to build any momentum before yet another player goes down.
After coming out of the gates quickly, USMNT winger Jordan Morris missed seven matches between June and July. Fellow US international Cristian Roldan has missed 15 league matches this season due to a concussion, leaving a key piece of his team’s plan on the sidelines for the majority of the season.
While losing two US internationals would be enough to challenge any team, Seattle’s struggles haven’t stopped there. A muscle injury kept star striker Raúl Ruidíaz out of the squad for nearly two months, while defender Nouhou Tolo missed a month due to illness. These guys can’t catch a break.
Somehow, though, 2023 has been a step up from 2022. No matter how many players go down, Schmetzer’s men keep finding ways to pull out results. If it weren’t for their struggle to stay healthy, they could’ve very easily been Supporters’ Shield contenders, but it seems fate has other plans.
To add insult to injury, it seems that star goalkeeper Stefan Frei is questionable for this weekend following his finger surgery. He played against Atlanta, so odds are he’ll tough it out, but he may not be operating at full health. Kelyn Rowe is out, and Roldan is also questionable for the match. One way or another, there will be 11 players in the Rave Green, though, and you can be sure that they’ll be playing hard.
As it stands, Seattle sits in fourth place in the Western Conference with 36 points from 25 games. That’s just five more points than the Loons, who’ve only played 23 games this year. The Sounders are well within touching distance for the Loons, and three points on Sunday would be absolutely massive in their efforts to climb the table and secure a playoff spot.
Despite their injury crisis, the Sounders are always a dangerous team. They’re back in the mix at the top of the conference this year, a place where they’ve always been comfortable. As players return to fitness and start building towards better form, they’re almost certainly going to be hitting their usual late-season push any time now. For our sake, let’s hope that burst of brilliance either waits until next week or never comes at all.
Minnesota United FC vs. Seattle Sounders
Allianz Field | Saint Paul, Minnesota
08.27.2023 | MLS Game #24
3:30 p.m. CT (Watch free on MLS Season Pass, FOX, 1500 ESPN)