Painting the picture SEA March 31

Painting the picture against the Seattle Sounders FC

Three keys to the game in Washington State

An opportunity is presenting itself for the Montreal Impact, as they get set to travel to the heart of Bigfoot’s alleged home. The Seattle Sounders FC, 2016 MLS Cup champions and finalists just last year, are in a bit of a sticky situation, juggling a suspension, injuries, and tardy returns from international duties. Not to mention its attack is heavily stalled, having scored no goals in two MLS games to start the season, and just one in its last four games across all competitions.

Still, as the saying goes, never count your Sasquatches until they’ve hatched. But no matter the result at the end of Saturday’s game – which will be in the wee hours of Sunday morning –, expect a tight and difficult game, given the parity that exists in Garber’s league. Here are the three keys to the game at CenturyLink Field, which will be played in front of at least 40,000 rowdy supporters.

1. Get off on the right foot

Yes, we know it’s a cliché. Nonetheless, the Impact will have to get the ball rolling early to prevent any possibility of the Sounders rebuilding their confidence and settling in. Clint Dempsey will be suspended for the game. Their treatment room is overflowing, with Jordan Morris out for the entire season, Osvaldo Alonso and Víctor Rodríguez are unavailable, while Will Bruin’s and Nicolás Lodeiro’s statuses are still uncertain due to a concussion and a an injury to the right foot, respectively. Internationals Gustav Svensson (90 minutes v Chile with Sweden), Román Torres (90 minutes v Switzerland with Panama), Cristian Roldan (one minute v Paraguay with the United States) and Jordy Delem (subbed off in the 23rd minute against Trinidad and Tobago with Martinique), all rejoined the Sounders late this week. We can therefore expect an atypical starting 11 for Brian Schmetzer’s group. If Montreal can apply the pressure in the same way we’ve seen it do since the start of the season, it’ll bode well for the Bleu-blanc-noir.

2. Take advantage of Seattle’s high defensive line

Saturday’s hosts have conceded six goals in their last two games. More often than not, Seattle’s opponents took advantage of the spaces behind the defense to break away and face Stefan Frei one on one. With Montreal’s quality on the counter and its weapons on the flanks, the Bleu-blanc-noir can hurt Seattle in this way.

3. Watch out for crosses to the far post

Crosses to the far post have been an extremely useful tool for the Sounders to start the season. Whether it’s off a volley or with a header, the Sounders are good at bringing the ball back into the six-yard box and creating danger in this way. Man-marking in the box and ensuring the players out on the wings put in the work will be more crucial than usual for the Impact’s defense.