Preview: Seattle Sounders take on red-hot Minnesota United

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ATLANTA, GA - JULY 15: Harry Shipp #19 of Seattle Sounders FC 2 during their game against the Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA (Aug. 4, 2018) – This isn’t the same Minnesota United FC team as last year.

Instead, this Minnesota United FC team is winning games, filling up stadium seats and providing Minnesota with a legit soccer program. The club picked up some important players during the off-season, who have turned the tide.

Preview: Seattle Sounders take on red-hot Minnesota United

A once struggling team, Minnesota United FC is battling for a playoff position. But, so are the Seattle Sounders FC.

The two teams are only two points apart from each other in the Western Conference. Minnesota United sits in eighth place with 28 points, but Seattle isn’t far behind. The Sounders sit in 10th place with 26 points.

Seattle is currently riding a six-game unbeaten streak. In addition to the streak, the last three matches were victories by the Sounders.

A team that was once desperately trying to stay out of last place, Seattle is in the hunt for a playoff spot. The Western Conference is tight, so being in 10th place isn’t a panic-button spot. Instead, the sixth-place team — which is the last position for a playoff spot — has 31 points.

Seattle isn’t far off from reaching another playoff season.

Minnesota United FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC
2018 MLS Regular Season
TCF Bank Stadium
August 4, 2018 – 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET
Stream: ESPN+

What To Watch For

Gustav Svensson

The Swedish prodigy for the Seattle Sounders, Gustav Svensson made an admirable run in the FIFA World Cup this summer with Sweden.

However, the team fell flat against England.

During the World Cup, Svensson wasn’t a bench-warmer. Instead, he got minutes and played a prominent role in the historic run for Sweden.

Now, back with Seattle, Svensson is picking up right where he left off. In the Sounders gritty 3-1 victory over New York City FC, Svensson scored his second goal of the season. A defensive midfielder, he’s clicking with center backs Chad Marshall and Kim Kee-Hee, while also keeping good communication with his fellow midfielders.

Svensson isn’t a player teams normally double-guard. That could be useful for Seattle throughout the rest of the season. While all eyes might be on Nicolás Lodeiro and Raúl Ruidíaz, Svensson is wide open.

The Injury Report

Seattle Sounders FC

Let’s make this short and sweet: only one thing has changed.

Handwalla Bwana has been upgraded from “out” to “questionable” with a right foot sprain. He joins Víctor Rodríguez on the “questionable” list.

Meanwhile, Jordan Morris remains out.

Minnesota United FC

Not a single player listed as questionable, but there are five players out.

Four midfielders and one defender, there are some notable absences for Minnesota United FC. Kevin Molino tore his left ACL on March 10, leaving him out for hte rest of the season. Ethan Finlay also tore his ACL, but on April 22. He is listed as “out indefinitely.”

Sam Cronin is out with a cervicogenic dysfunction, while Maximiano is out with a right knee injury. Defender Jerome Thiesson is recovering from a right leg injury.

Last Meeting: April 22, 2017

The last time the two sides met up was early last season.

Svensson scored the opening goal for the Sounders, with Will Bruin following up two minutes later, doubling the score. Jordy Delem scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time of the second half.

The match wasn’t a clean sheet for Stefan Frei, though.

Christian Ramirez had the lone goal for Minnesota in the 66th minute.

Prediction: Seattle 3, Minnesota 0

Seattle is picking up victories left and right, but a clean sheet has been a tough task for the team.

Cristian Roldan admitted it during the last match that Seattle hasn’t won pretty in matches. Instead, the Sounders have gritted their teeth and pushed through tough wins.

However, with the hot streak the team is riding — and the past success of finishing up the season strong — Seattle is my favorite in this match. Stefan Frei deserves a clean sheet. His defense is working well around him.

It’s time for a clean sheet.

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