Adrian Heath warned against any underestimation of the Seattle Sounders as his Minnesota United side prepare to take on the Western Conference leaders.
Both Seattle and Minnesota have enjoyed an extended break, with neither team playing last weekend.
Seattle are looking to bounce back from a defeat to the Portland Timbers, while Minnesota defeated the Houston Dynamo.
The Sounders started the season brilliantly but have had a rough patch as of late, losing three of their last four home games.
“But they started the season incredible, didn’t they,” Heath said when asked of Seattle’s recent form – the Sounders having still won three of their last four games, though all of those victories came on the road.
“They broke the record for going as long as they did without losing and we were there at the opening day of the season and even though we played well for an hour, that’s not enough in Seattle. We know what’s coming.”
Seattle are top on 41 points, with Minnesota 10 behind in fifth, in a tightly contested race for the playoffs.
“You look at where the table is now, everybody is bunching up now in and around that playoff line, so it’s important to put a little bit of gap between one or two of us,” Heath added.
Saturday’s meeting will also see Freddy Juarez – who left his role as Real Salt Lake coach last week – assist Seattle boss Brian Schmetzer for the first time.
“Freddy’s a humble guy, nice guy. He’s going to fit in great,” Schmetzer said. “Who doesn’t like a guy who does everything for the team, help the team, help the players, help the coaches. He’s got experience. What’s not to like?”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Seattle Sounders – Raul Ruidiaz
Seattle may not have been at their free-flowing best as of late but, in Raul Ruidiaz, they still possess arguably MLS’ best player – with the forward the leading scorer so far in 2021 with 14 goals.
Minnesota United – Fanendo Adi
Adi made his Minnesota debut against Houston on August 28, playing 31 minutes off the bench. Adi scored eight goals against Seattle as a member of the Timbers, his most against any opponent in his MLS career.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Minnesota handed Seattle its first loss of the season with a 1-0 home win on July 18 after Seattle had gone unbeaten in 13 straight to start the season. The win was Minnesota’s first-ever victory over the Sounders, who have won all five meetings between the teams in Seattle (including playoffs).
– The Sounders are winless in four straight home matches, losing three of them. The four-match winless run equals the longest at home in Seattle’s MLS history (D3 L1 in July-September 2009) and the first time the Sounders have collected just one point in any four-match home run in the club’s MLS history.
– Minnesota recorded a 2-1 win at Houston in its last match for a club record four straight on the road without defeat (W1 D3). The Loons have won consecutive regular season away matches just twice in club history, winning at Portland and San Jose in March 2020 and at Vancouver and San Jose in March 2019.
– Seattle’s 2-0 loss to Portland on August 29 marked the third time the Sounders failed to score in their last eight home matches. Seattle was shut out only twice in its previous 50 home MLS matches (including playoffs) dating back to June 2018.
– Only Chris Wondolowski and Robbie Keane (12 each, including playoffs) have scored more MLS goals against Seattle than Adi.