Storylines_04.01.22_vs SEA

Beloved by preseason prognosticators, the star-studded Seattle Sounders have gotten off to a surprisingly sluggish start in MLS action in 2022, tallying just four points over their first four contests. Minnesota United, on the other hand, is coming off back-to-back victories that have propelled the Loons toward the top of the Western Conference standings in early action. Will MNUFC continue their winning ways against a Seattle squad that has historically had their number? Here are three storylines that might play a role in determining the answer.

Warning Bell

As you may have read in this week’s edition of First Touches, Seattle’s stats within the league are largely underwhelming. They have just four points through their first four fixtures, have scored just four goals total — with three of those coming in just one game — and are bottom-five in the league in several attacking stats. However, don’t be fooled; the Sounders are still in there. They are dealing with a classic MLS early-season issue — the double-stacked schedule of the CONCACAF Champions League, in which they have reached the semifinals (the first leg of which is next Wednesday against NYCFC). Seattle has scored nine goals across their four games against Léon of Liga MX and Motagua of the Honduran league and likely have been prioritizing their progress in the CCL over early points in MLS. To counter my own point, though, they’ve scored just one of those nine goals away from home.

Let the Sun Shine

While Emanuel Reynoso still leads the league in a couple different stats (duels and dribbles), and remains one of Minnesota’s best creators of chances (six shots is fourth on the team; seven attacking assists is tied for the team lead), he has yet to register a mark in either of the big two categories of goals and assists. He has been a focal point of teams’ defensive strategies against Minnesota for entirely justifiable reasons. To quote MLSsoccer.com’s Matthew Doyle from his Week 3 review, which included Minnesota’s game against New York Red Bulls, “...the midfield basically swarmed Bebelo Reynoso out of the game.” Other teams’ focus is unlikely to change, and Minnesota has found ways to succeed without goals and assists from Bebelo. However, the team’s best version surely includes success for the Loons #10. 

Look Out Above

In Seattle’s most successful game, their 3-2 home win over LA Galaxy, they were at their most dangerous on crosses into the box. Their opener sprang from a corner kick by João Paulo, their second was a penalty created from an Alex Roldán cross to Fredy Montero, and their winning goal was another Alex Roldán cross — this one finding the head of Xavier Arreaga. In addition, Arreaga hit the post on a header from a free kick by Albert Rusnák. Should the Loons concede free kicks and corners to Seattle, they had better be ready to defend stoutly.