Yes it's just one game, but the Sounders' kept their faint playoff hopes alive with last Sunday's 2-1 comeback win versus Houston Dynamo. After a seemingly never-ending run of bad luck, they turned around their fortunes just when they were at their most desperate.
In this respect, it speaks volumes about the mental fortitude and fighting spirit of the Rave Green. They never know when they're beaten.
Seattle finds themselves six points out of the seventh and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, albeit with a game in hand. Regardless, they probably need to win all five of their remaining five games in order to have a realistic chance of extending their MLS record 13-season playoff qualification streak.
First up is a tough game versus Austin FC on Saturday. Here are 10 things to know ahead of the crucial clash at Lumen Field:
Fresh off their first win in six games, points remain at a premium for the Seattle Sounders, as they aim to keep their playoff hopes alive versus a strong Austin FC team.
1) Austin FC only joined MLS last season, hence this will be just the fourth head-to-head game between the two sides. The Sounders have won one and drawn two of the three previous meetings, including a 1-1 draw earlier this season.
2) Austin has enjoyed an astonishing rise to prominence in 2022, after finishing 12th in the Western Conference in their inaugural season. This year they find themselves in second place entering the weekend and with the third-best goal difference in all of MLS.
Different levels of success on the goal front
3) In terms of goals specifically, Austin FC is second in MLS with 60, while the Sounders are ranked 17th with just 40. Sebastian Driussi leads Austin with 20 goals -- one off the MLS lead -- while Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz are tied with seven each for Seattle.
4) Interestingly, the two sides are pretty even when it comes to creating chances, but Austin FC is clearly more clinical with their finishing. Austin has the slightest 12.7-12.6 advantage per game when it comes to shots, while also holding just a 4.4-4.1 edge when it comes to average attempts on target.
5) The Sounders have already set an unwanted single-season franchise record, with 15 league losses in 2022. To further show how tough this year has been, they have just a couple of winning streaks in league play and both only consisted of two consecutive wins.
6) Austin FC has the best away record in the Western Conference this year (and the third-best overall in MLS), but this game might be coming at just the right time for the Sounders. Austin has lost two straight games on the road, including a 3-0 defeat last weekend in Nashville; it also ended their 18-game scoring run.
Awards, injuries and more
7) Nouhou was deservedly named to the MLS Team of the Week for Week 29, after scoring and providing the assist for the winning goal versus Houston Dynamo. It took him 136 league games (149 including playoffs) to score his first career MLS goal; among players with at least one goal in MLS all-time, only six took more games to score their first.
8) On the injury front, Joao Paulo is out for the season after a right ACL tear, while it seems almost certain Obed Vargas also won't return this year after suffering a lower back stress fracture. There is some hope in respect of Cristian Roldan however, with him potentially returning for the second-last league game versus Sporting KC.
9) Morris spoke to the media after training on Thursday. Discussing the importance of all five remaining games, but also Austin specifically. he said:
"Every game from now is kind of like a final for us. We really need to keep stringing wins together, to put ourselves back above the (playoff) line. They're a really good team, really well-coached and have a lot of really good players, so they're going to be dangerous. We have to come out and play well again, especially at home. We want to take advantage of being at home and being dominant again, but they're a really good team and we know it's going to be a tough game. "
10) Head coach Brian Schmetzer took time to praise his opposite number, Josh Wolff. Also speaking to the media on Thursday, he said:
"Josh has come in and done a really great job of figuring out his squad, because last year he went through some trials and tribulations. I'm sure he would like to stick it to us, because we went down there (to Texas) with five teenagers and that was a big story line. I can tell he is a proud guy and didn't like losing at home, so there's motivation. He's a good coach, he's tactically got his team playing the way he wants them to. He's got good players so yes, it's a good team. Maybe their run of form isn't quite as good as mid-season, but they're still a dangerous team."
What's your prediction for Saturday's game in Seattle? Will the Sounders win, draw, or lose and why? Let us know in the comments section below.