Opponent Insight | Seattle Sounders

Sang Bin Jeong kicks the ball as blades of grass are flung into the air.

    Minnesota United forward Sang Bin Jeong (11) crosses the ball during the match against Orlando City SC at Allianz Field in Saint Paul, Minn., on Saturday, April 15, 2023. (Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

Ahead of Saturday night’s clash with the Seattle Sounders we got the chance to speak with Dave Clark from Sounder at Heart to get an inside look at the Sounders. Alan Van Wyk also got to speak with SAH about MNUFC to provide an inside look at Minnesota ahead of this weekend’s match.

  • Ashle: Last year Seattle missed the playoffs for the first time since joining MLS. What were the important moves made over the offseason and how did the fanbase react to missing the playoffs?
    • Dave: Héber was the only significant offseason acquisition. There were no significant losses. From the outside it might be odd to essentially run it back after the hyper successful failure of winning the Champions League in the same year as missing the playoffs, but there was a confidence that the failures in the late season were mostly due to injury. Sounders leadership has built up a lot of trust. They have three major trophies and three other finals from 2016 to the present. Still, if the early season hadn’t gone as smooth as it did there would have been calls for — something. I’m not sure what. The GM changed in the offseason and Brian Schmetzer is probably the most loved coach in the league.
  •  Ashle: The Sounders are currently sitting at third in goals scored and Jordan Morris has ownership of half of those 16 goals. How integral has he been to the attack this season and how surprising is it to see this performance from him?
    • Dave: Let’s start with the good news for Minnesota fans — Jordan Morris is almost certainly not starting after going 89 minutes as the USMNT’s best player against Mexico midweek. If Seattle was in a “need to win” situation they probably start him, but they don’t need to do that this early in the season. Replacing Morris will be a bit difficult. He’s having an MVP caliber season. Making it even more complicated is that Raúl Ruidíaz is also probably out injured. Losing two players who can pop into the league Best XI is brutal.Here’s the three players who will have to step up — former NYCFC man Héber; the greatest Sounders of the MLS era Nicolás Lodeiro; Léo Chú. Both Chú and Lodeiro have five assists on the season, but all of Chú’s are to Morris. He’ll need to drive aggressively towards goal or find a vibe with fellow Brazilian Héber (who started strong, but then got injured). Nico freestyles less than MLS fans are used to and with Albert Rusnák also in support those two should be able to get quick, short passes going.
  • Ashle: Alongside Minnesota, Seattle is currently tied for the third least goals allowed in MLS. What would you attribute that defensive success to?
    • Dave: There’s two major changes from last year’s defensive struggles. The first is health. In 2022 the best two DMs were lost due to injury about a third of the way into the MLS season. Without João Paulo or Obed Vargas last year the experiment of Rusnák as an 8 didn’t work defensively. Opposing teams were able to penetrate to well, a CB would step up, and then there are open angles — just a lot of bad. It didn’t help that the other young DMs were also injured. In 2023 JP, Vargas, Atencio and Leyva have been mostly available and good. That’s step one.Step two is a funky asymmetrical twist with the fullbacks. On the right Alex Roldan plays as a wingback who can even slide into the middle during the attack. How Seattle covers for this is that they shift into a three back set with Nouhou frequently becoming a left centerback in a kind of 3-2 defensive shell. It works and it is fun to watch.