MLS Cup 2020: Seattle Sounders Preview

The Seattle Sounders are taking on Columbus Crew SC on Saturday in MLS Cup 2020.

WHEN AND WHERE: Kickoff is at 5:30 p.m. PT at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

WHERE TO WATCH: The match will be televised on FOX and UniMás.

FINAL 2020 RECORDS AND STANDINGS: Sounders 11-5-6 (1.77 PPG, 2nd West), Crew: 12-6-5 (1.78 PPG, 3rd East)

FORM GUIDE (most recent first): Seattle: WWWWD, Columbus: WWWWL

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Seattle defeated LAFC 3-1, FC Dallas 1-0 and then Minnesota United 3-2. Columbus beat the New York Red Bulls 3-2, Nashville SC 2-0 in extra time and then the New England Revolution 1-0.

PREVIOUS MEETING: The Sounders and Crew SC met in the second match of the 2020 regular season in Seattle in the final match prior to the season being suspended due to COVID-19. The clubs split the points in a 1-1 draw. Gyasi Zardes opened the scoring for Crew SC in the 33rd minute before Raúl Ruidíaz’s penalty kick in the 79th minute equalized for the Sounders, who played without captain Nicolás Lodeiro.

ALL-TIME HISTORY: Seattle is 6-4-5 all time against Columbus, including a 4-1-1 mark on the road. The last time they played at MAPFRE Stadium, the Sounders won 2-1 on a 90’+6’ match-winner from Lodeiro.

EATTLE SCENES: The Sounders are coming off an improbable Western Conference Final victory, winning 3-2 in regulation after being 2-0 down in the 75th minute. 

The Sounders are appearing in their fourth MLS Cup in the last five years. Seattle is the only club in post-shootout MLS history to win four of five conference championships.

SCHMETZER TIME: Schmetzer has 16 wins compared to just three losses in his postseason career and continues to extend his all-time MLS-best playoff winning percentage.

PLAYOFF HEROICS: Lodeiro and Ruidíaz are writing their names into MLS postseason lore. Lodeiro has eight goals and 10 assists in 20 career postseason games. He also has an MLS-record seven consecutive matches with an assist, and he has gone eight playoff games in a row with at least one goal or assist. Ruidíaz, meanwhile, has an otherworldly nine goals and six assists in only nine career playoff matches. He has found the back of the net in seven of them and recorded a goal or an assist in eight.

ARREAGA HOME IN SEATTLE: Sounders defender Xavier Arreaga did not travel to Columbus with the team. He is home with his wife expecting the birth of their first child, Schmetzer confirmed on Friday. 

BATTLE OF THE 10s: Much like Minnesota United’s talented playmaker Emanuel Reynoso, Lodeiro will go head-to-head with another big-money attacking midfielder in Columbus’ Lucas Zelarayán. The Argentine transferred from Liga MX’s Tigres ahead of the 2020 MLS season and, despite battling injuries, scored six goals and added four assists in 16 matches to earn MLS Newcomer of the Year.

MAJOR LOSSES: Crew SC will be without two important pieces in Darlington Nagbe and Pedro Santos on Saturday, as the two are not medically cleared to play. Columbus will also be without defender Vito Wormgoor.

FAMILIAR FOE: Opposite Schmetzer will be Columbus Crew SC Head Coach Caleb Porter, who the Sounders know well. Porter spent five seasons from 2013-17 at the helm of Seattle’s rival, the Portland Timbers.

HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE?: Crew SC have only lost one match in 10 home games this season, going 9-1-0 at MAPFRE Stadium. That stands in stark contrast to their 0-5-5 away record. The Sounders went 3-3-3 in nine true road matches this season.

U.S. INTERNATIONAL BATTLE: Saturday’s Cup final will feature the Sounders’ United States internationals in Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan against Crew SC’s Gyasi Zardes. Morris and Zardes are two of six finalists for U.S. Soccer’s Male Player of the Year.

COURTESY SEATTLE SOUNDERS COMMUNICATIONS

Posted in MLS
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