The Sounders are one series win away from their first-ever MLS Cup finals appearance.
Sounders match day
Fourth-seed Seattle Sounders vs. second-seed Colorado Rapids
MLS Western Conference finals, Leg 1
7:25 p.m. Tuesday at CenturyLink Field
TV: Fox Sports 1. Radio: KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360 AM
– Seeking history: The Sounders are one series win away from their first-ever MLS Cup finals appearance. They’ve twice previously reached the Western Conference finals, falling to the L.A. Galaxy in both 2012 and 2014. The Rapids won the 2010 MLS championship, having previously lost the 1997 final in their only other Cup appearance.
– Taking care of business: Tuesday’s first leg will go a long way toward deciding this series. Colorado hasn’t lost at home all season, and needing a win or draw on Sunday — at altitude, in front of a hostile crowd — would be a huge ask for Seattle.
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“We’re at home,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “If we can establish our possession, if we can establish a couple of chances, if we can establish the tempo of the game, that’s what home teams try to do all over the world. So yes, in the first 15 minutes, we’re going to try to play up-tempo. If we can create some chances and nick one early, that’d be great for us.”
– Goal-challenged: The Rapids netted fewer goals than any other Western Conference playoff qualifier — but also surrendered fewer than any team in MLS. Expect Colorado to follow a similar template that led to its shootout victory over L.A. in the conference semis: Making the hosts scrap for every scoring chance in Leg 1, then taking their shot in Commerce City.
“I don’t think you should sell them short,” Schmetzer said. “They can attack, as well. They do a good job of team defending. That’s obviously the storyline for the series: Can we get a goal? Can we keep them off the scoresheet, especially here at home? … We’re just going to create as many chances as we can.”
– Injury report: Sounders forward Jordan Morris (hamstring strain) and midfielders Andreas Ivanschitz (knee strain) and Alvaro Fernandez (hamstring issue) are all questionable for Tuesday’s match. Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard has been ruled out after injuring his groin while with the U.S. national team, leading-scorer Shkelzen Gashi is questionable with a ankle injury. Colorado winger and former Sounder Marco Pappa could also miss out with a lingering hamstring problem.
Prediction: Sounders 0, Rapids 0.