Preview: Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids
Sports Mole previews Monday’s Major League Soccer clash between Seattle Sounders and Colorado Rapids, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
After each missing the MLS postseason in 2022, the Seattle Sounders and Colorado Rapids will begin what they hope will be a year of redemption when they square off at Lumen Field on Sunday in the opening fixture of 2023 for both sides.
Two years ago, these were the top two teams in the Western Conference by the end of the 2021 regular season, but in the previous campaign, the Rapids and Sounders finished 10th and 11th, respectively.
A rigorous slate of matches both domestically and in the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) seemed to take its toll on the Rave Green in 2022.
Becoming the first MLS side to capture the CCL came at a cost, as that competition took a toll on them physically with Seattle suffering their share of critical long-term injuries during their run to the title.
In 2022 the Sounders missed the MLS Cup playoffs for the first time in club history, and it will be up to Brian Schmetzer to find a way to get his veteran side back on the right path this season.
Even though they lost their only match at the FIFA Club World Cup to Al Ahly (1-0) earlier this month, there were plenty of encouraging signs from this group as they created lots of opportunities and controlled the match for large portions.
Three of their opening four MLS fixtures will be at home, where the Rave Green won nine of its 12 regular affairs a year ago, posting four clean sheets.
If you include the playoffs, Seattle have won six consecutive home fixtures versus Colorado, shutting them out four times over that stretch, with their last defeat against them in the Pacific Northwest coming during the 2016 campaign (1-0).
Having finished first in the Western Conference during the 2021 regular season, the Burgundy Boys entered the previous campaign full of expectations, which they failed to live up to.
The Rapids went from being one of the top defensive units in the league in 2021, conceding 35 goals in the regular season, to being one of the worst last year, tied for the second-most allowed in the Western Conference (57).
During the offseason, they looked to Europe to try and fix that leaky defence, adding an experienced centre-back from Scandinavia and a young midfielder from the Premier League with a connection to a Rapids player.
Time will tell if the new pieces will fit within the Colorado system, which aims to use the ball to draw the opposition onto them before hitting a big switch of play to open up space.
Since Robin Fraser took charge, the Burgundy Boys have done most of their damage off set pieces, leading the league in expected goals on dead-ball situations in 2022.
Colorado went from being one of the best road teams in the league in 2021 to one of the worst a season later, finishing the 2022 campaign with just one away victory, tied with the San Jose Earthquakes for the fewest in MLS.
Seattle Sounders friendlies form:
Seattle Sounders form (all competitions):
Colorado Rapids Major League Soccer form:
The top goalscorer for the Sounders over the past four regular season campaigns, Raul Ruidiaz, suffered a hamstring strain in training this week, while Joao Paulo, who missed most of 2022 with a torn ACL, played 80 minutes in a 2-1 victory versus Louisville City FC.
Seattle acquired Heber during the transfer window, declined options on Will Bruin and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, both of whom signed with Austin FC, while Jimmy Medranda chose to move to the Columbus Crew.
Colorado signed Danish centre-back Andreas Maxso from Bronby, Kevin Cabral moved to the Burgundy Boys from the Los Angeles Galaxy, Connor Ronan joins them from Wolverhampton and will be reunited with Rapids captain Jack Price, while left-back Alex Gersbach comes to the Rapids from Grenoble in Ligue 2.
Diego Rubio led the Rapids with 15 goals last season, William Yarbrough had nine clean sheets, four fewer than in 2021, while Michael Barrios chipped in with seven assists, leading the team in that department.
Seattle Sounders possible starting lineup:
Frei; A. Roldan, Gomez, Ragen, Tolo; Paulo, Rusnak; C. Roldan, Lodeiro, Morris; Heber
Colorado Rapids possible starting lineup:
Yarbrough; Rosenberry, Abubakar, Maxso, Gersbach; Bassett, Price, Ronan; Cabral, Rubio, Lewis
We say: Seattle Sounders 2-0 Colorado Rapids
A healthy Joao Paulo should be a massive boost for the Sounders as much of their past success centred around the Brazilian, and with his creativity and a refreshed side keen to put last season behind them, we expect the Rave Green to start the campaign on a winning note.
The Rapids added some lovely depth pieces to its squad during the previous transfer window, however, the backline might need to get a few games under their belt before being a solid and stingy unit.
How to watch
You can watch Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids and every MLS match this season live on Apple TV. Click here for more details on how to subscribe.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
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