Sports Mole previews Monday’s Major League Soccer clash between Seattle Sounders and Austin FC, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The Seattle Sounders will risk their unbeaten record on Sunday if they host Austin FC for the first time at Lumen Field.
The Sounders lost their first points of their 2021 season in a 1-1 draw with Atlanta United last week, while Austin lost three straight times in that matchup.
After an impressive first six games this season, Seattle suffered its first blemish last weekend, conceding a penalty in the 86th minute.
For a team that was so focused and determined to be perfect in every department, it won’t be pleased that it lost two points, especially given that it was in the lead for 80 minutes.
When you look at the bigger picture, it’s probably just a minor hiccup, like Brian Schmetzer has seen his team implement their new system incredibly well and conceded only three goals all season, none of which came from the open game.
The 2020 MLS Cup runners-up was criticized prior to this season for failing to sign big-name players, but has so far proven the opposite to all critics and has dominated many of the league’s elite teams.
John Paul was a gem in midfield with pinpoint crossing and excellent poise and control with the ball in a midfield that was exceptionally strong in the first seven games.
The newest MLS franchise got off to a strong start in the first three games of the season and won twice but has since cooled off.
Given two tough teams in Sporting Kansas City and Nashville SC and the improved LA Galaxy Josh Wolff and his team learn the importance of staying sharp without resting on your laurels.
Los Verdes have been humble about their last two MLS games, firing two shots on goal against the Galaxy and just one shot on goal against one of the MLS’s top defensive units in Nashville last week.
Austin had at least 55% possession in their last two defeats, but before goal they disappointed and didn’t do enough with the ball.
The season is still very early, however, they are still in the running for a playoff spot and will have some time after this game to recharge their batteries for the upcoming international break.
Seattle Sounders Major League Soccer Form:
Austin FC Major League Soccer Form:
The Sounders will do without a goalkeeper Stefan Frei who continues to recover from a knee injury.
Attacking midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro struggling with knee problems and defensive midfielder Jordy Delem is likely to end with a cruciate ligament tear in the long term.
Alex Roldan and Yeimar gomez did a wonderful job with 40 interceptions between them to neutralize opposing teams on the counter.
For Austin, attacking midfielder, Ulises Segura and striker Aaron Schönfeld are both on the road with knee injuries.
Left behind Ben Sweat has a cruciate ligament rupture and a left-back Hector Jimenez has a medial collateral ligament injury.
Cecilio Dominguez is goalless in his last four games after scoring twice in the 3-1 win against Minnesota United and veteran midfielder Alexander Ring returned last week after being suspended for a red card two games in his loss to Sporting KC .
Seattle Sounders Possible Starting Lineup:
Cleveland; Gomez, Arreaga, Tolo; Roldan, Rowe, Paulo, Smith; Roldan; Bruin, Ruidiaz
Austin FC possible starting line-up:
Stuver; Kolmanisch, Besler, Romana, Lima; Pochettino, Ring, Pereira; Dominguez, Hoesen, Redes
We say: Seattle Sounders 3-0 Austin FC
These teams have never faced each other, which might be a bit of an advantage for Austin, but Brian Schmetzer and the Sounders are quick learners and should adjust their tactics quickly if necessary.
Austin has only scored one goal in the last three games and only has two or fewer shots on goal in the last two games, which isn’t very encouraging when you prepare for the strongest defensive in the MLS.