Seattle Sounders News

Sounders: 10 things to know ahead of must-win game in Orlando

Orlando City SC v Seattle Sounders FC
Orlando City SC v Seattle Sounders FC / Alika Jenner/GettyImages
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Entering last Friday's game in Portland, we wrote about how the Sounders seem to have been short on good luck of late. Unfortunately for the Rave Green, this theme continued, courtesy of the Timbers being awarded a penalty that should never have been given.

It proved to be the turning point in the game, as the Timbers equalized and went on to win 2-1. As a result, the Sounders have collected just one point from their last six away games for the first time since 2015.

In truth though, the loss wasn't just down to bad luck. Seattle seemed to be second-best for the majority of the game and only managed nine shots, despite the importance of the game.

As a result, you have to wonder if the writing is on the wall for the Sounders' playoff chances? Something just doesn't seem right about them at the moment.

The Seattle Sounders finish their three-game road trip with a clash in Orlando which they, quite simply, realistically have to win if they are to have any chance of qualifying for the playoffs.

There is still time for Seattle to get back on track, but they really need to turn things around urgently, starting in Orlando. Here are 10 things to know ahead of their game at Exploria Stadium:

10 things

1) The Sounders have a significant advantage in the all time head-to-head games with Orlando City, albeit only a brief history. Seattle has won four and drawn one of the five clashes, including a 2-1 victory at home in their last meeting back in 2019.

2) Orlando City is well-placed to make the playoffs for the third consecutive season, after not qualifying during their first five years in MLS. Entering the game with Seattle, they are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference despite a poor goal difference of -6.

3) With a record of 3-9-2, the Sounders' struggles on the road are well documented, but a trip to Florida could be just what's needed. Orlando has a home record of just 6-7-0, which is actually third-worst among the 14 teams currently holding playoff positions.

4) On the flip side, Seattle is arguably going to Orlando at an inopportune time, with the home side on a run of three straight wins for the first time in over a year. They last won four straight back in 2018, on their way to a franchise-best six consecutive victories.

Scoring issues

5) Arguably the Sounders' biggest issue this season has been scoring, with just 36 goals in 27 games and creating an average of just 12.5 shots per game. As per soundersfc.com, one of the key matchups will be Raul Ruidiaz and Antonio Carlos; on their day, Ruidiaz is one of the best strikers in MLS, while Carlos is an elite center back.

6) Still with Ruidiaz, he is on course to score his fewest number of league goals since joining the Sounders, albeit due to an injury-impacted season. He currently has six goals in 14 games (including just 10 starts), which would be his fewest since he scored 10 in his MLS debut season back in 2018.

7) The Sounders have made a habit of conceding second half injury time goals of late, specifically in Atlanta and Los Angeles, and costing themselves a combined three precious points in the process. They will have to be weary of Orlando, who last weekend scored a 96th-minute winner; they have scored a league-best five winners in the 95th minute or later since joining MLS in 2015.

U.S. Open Cup

8) Seattle might get an edge due to Orlando looking ahead to their next game when they attempt to win the U.S. Open Cup, which would also represent their first trophy. The Sounders are of course very familiar with the U.S. Open Cup having won it four times, which is tied for most all-time among MLS clubs.

9) The Sounders will be without three key players on Wednesday night including Cristian Roldan, who is out for four-to-six weeks after groin surgery. Joao Paulo is out for the year after suffering a right ACL tear, while Obed Vargas has been out multiple weeks with a lower back stress fracture and no update on when he will return.

10) While speaking to the media on Monday, Stefan Frei was asked if it was better to play again so soon, as opposed to waiting a week after a loss. He said:

"(it's) nice, but the response has to be that we utilize that opportunity to get back on the pitch right away. Time's running out, (so) it's nice to get back on the pitch but if you're not going to be up for it, then it's not worth it. We need to make sure we come out strong and we got something from this trip."

* Statistics courtesy of soundersfc.com

What's your prediction for Wednesday night in Orlando? Will the Sounders win, draw, or lose and why? Let us know in the comments section below.

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