The Seattle Sounders, who have made a habit of late-season runs to make the MLS playoffs, are at it again.
The two-time defending Western Conference champion Sounders (7-9-5, 26 points) went 4-0-2 in July to enter Saturday night’s match at Minnesota United FC (9-12-1, 28 points) just five points out of the West’s sixth and final playoff berth.
“The incredible thing about this (run) is we’re not playing well,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer told MLS.com. “We’re grinding out games, we’re winning these games because we’re playing good defense and we’re scoring one or two goals. And that’s the scary part. You think about six unbeaten and you think if we start playing well, like we’re supposed to, we can go on a really long run.”
The 10th-place Sounders, who have three straight wins, could move past eighth-place Minnesota with a victory Saturday.
It might not be that easy, however.
Minnesota is 8-3-1 at home, with four straight victories.
“It is all about momentum for us,” Loons defender Eric Miller told the team’s website. “We have to keep our home form going. We have to make sure we get three points this weekend.”
Minnesota suffered a 4-2 loss at Vancouver last weekend and will embark on a five-game trip after Saturday’s match.
“Our football was good,” Minnesota coach Adrian Heath said of the Vancouver match. “Our defending was poor, our concentration levels were poor and our discipline was poor.”
Seattle, which has allowed a conference-low 24 goals, will look to stop Loons midfielder Darwin Quintero, who has nine goals and eight assists this season. Eight of Quintero’s goals have come at TCF Bank Stadium, including six during the four-game home winning streak.
The Sounders are coming off perhaps their biggest victory of the season, a 3-1 decision against visiting New York City FC last weekend. The key to their recent streak has been their defense, as goalkeeper Stefan Frei has allowed just three goals over the past six matches.
Midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro has sparked the Sounders attack, either scoring or assisting on seven of their 11 goals during the past seven games.
“They deserve all the credit,” Schmetzer said of his players. “That team out there hasn’t given up under not ideal circumstances. The start of our season was poor for a lot of different reasons. They’ve kept at it, they’ve kept working. Their attitude at training has always been great, so all credit to them.”
The Sounders beat Minnesota 3-1 on April 22 in Seattle and have won all three all-time meetings between the teams, outscoring the Loons 9-2.
—Field Level Media