Proving themselves capable on both sides of the ball in the early going, the Seattle Sounders seek a third consecutive clean sheet Saturday when they host Toronto FC in an interconference clash of unbeatens.
Seattle (4-1-0) got off to a fast start behind the three-prong attack of Jordan Morris, Raul Ruidiaz, Nicolas Lodeiro and Kelvin Leerdam, who have accounted for all but one of the club’s 11 goals. The Sounders, though, have also been a stingy defensive unit with back-to-back clean sheets and three shutouts in four matches.
They also caught a break in terms of scheduling when Wednesday’s slated match against Colorado was postponed due to snow in the Denver area. The match will be made up Sept. 6, and the postponement gave the Sounders a chance for some players to deal with injuries, most notably with Ruidiaz being able to return to full practice duties.
In the last match last Saturday, Lodeiro’s volleyed finish off a cross from Cristian Roldan in the 18th minute accounted for the scoring in Seattle’s 1-0 home win over Real Salt Lake. Stefan Frei finished with three saves and carries a 186-minute shutout streak into this contest.
“Obviously, every game there are going to be things that we can clean up a little bit,” Morris told the Seattle Times. “I thought we had a great first half. The second half, we maybe let them have a little too much possession. They had a few good chances. But I think you’ve got to walk away at 4-0-1 and be pretty happy and keep building on the things we know we can build on.”
Toronto FC (3-1-0) takes to the road for the first time since opening the season with a victory at Philadelphia on March 2. The Reds were denied in their bid to maintain a perfect record last Saturday versus Chicago, but scraped out a 2-2 draw on Jonathan Osorio’s goal in the 76th minute.
Jozy Altidore, who assisted on Osorio’s equalizer, bagged Toronto’s other goal and has scored in all three matches after missing the opener with an ankle injury. He is also forming a burgeoning partnership with Alex Pozuelo, who has two goals and two assists in two matches.
“A lot of positives to take away,” said captain Michael Bradley to The Associated Press. “You’re going to have days like this over the course of the season.”
Altidore, who did not face the Sounders last year due to injuries, has a goal in each of his last two meetings with Seattle.
The Sounders won the only match between the teams last year, a 2-1 victory at Toronto where Will Bruin scored in the first half and set up Handwalla Bwana’s go-ahead marker on 54 minutes as Seattle snapped a four-match winless streak in the series (0-2-2). TFC, though, are 4-2-1 all-time in the Pacific Northwest.
(Nicolas Lodeiro photo courtesy Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports)