Preview: Seattle Sounders vs. Inter Miami – prediction, team news, lineups
Inter Miami continue their Major League Soccer campaign on Saturday as they head to Lumen Field to face the Seattle Sounders for the first time in club history.
Last weekend, an outstanding individual performance gave the Herons their first victory of the regular season, 3-2 over the New England Revolution, while Seattle advanced to the final of the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) on Wednesday, defeating New York City FC 4-2 on aggregate.
The Sounders return to MLS play feeling pretty good about their form, unbeaten in their last seven matches in all competitions.
After losing their first two domestic encounters this year, the quality that we all expected from the Rave Green is starting to shine through.
Brian Schmetzer has a variety of weapons to choose from, and with some key players returning to 100% fitness, the expectations will be that they can get back into a playoff position, currently three points behind Nashville SC for that final postseason berth.
In their previous MLS fixture, the Sounders put on a midfield masterclass, as some dogged defending broke up the Minnesota United possession game, helping Seattle to a 2-1 victory.
There may not be a team in the league with more versatility at every position than the two-time MLS Cup champions.
The Rave Green can rotate players in various areas of the pitch, which is a vast luxury considering the number of injuries this club have suffered through over the past couple of seasons.
They have created plenty of scoring opportunities on home soil and are looking incredibly potent in the final third, scoring nine goals in their previous three matches played at Lumen Field.
It took six games, but finally, the 2022 MLS campaign in Miami is on the move, as they defeated the reigning Supporters’ Shield winners in a back and forth affair.
Given how disappointing their start to the season has been, Phil Neville will take anything he can at this stage, as his team have been badly outplayed through many matches this year.
They put together a solid defensive performance in their opener, drawing 0-0 against the Chicago Fire, though it has only got worse since then, as Miami have conceded multiple goals in five consecutive games, currently leading the league with 15 goals allowed thus far.
Last Saturday, we saw this group put together their best attacking display of the year, creating plenty of opportunities and finishing them off, scoring on three of their four efforts on target.
The other good news in the sunshine state right now is that the season is still young, and another victory would put them back into the playoff conversation, which shows how quickly things can turn around in this league.
Neville has talked about having a side that can dribble the ball effectively and maintain possession for long stretches, but his players have rarely been able to deliver in either of those departments as they have only had over 50% of the ball in two matches this season.
On Wednesday, Raul Ruidiaz scored his first goal of the year for Seattle, while Stefan Frei was spectacular in between the sticks, making seven stops as the Sounders drew 1-1 versus the Pigeons in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final.
Joao Paulo continues to be a standout performer for this team, scoring the opening goal against the Loons, while Jordan Morris and Nicolas Lodeiro were instrumental in their CCL tie against New York as Morris scored once and picked up an assist, while the Uruguayan put home what ended up being the winning strike to send them into the final.
Yeimar Gomez Andrade remains sidelined with a high ankle sprain, while Andrew Thomas is questionable with a right calf strain.
Leonardo Campana, who replaced Gonzalo Higuain at centre forward, made history last week, becoming the first player to ever score a hat trick for the Herons, while Robbie Robinson and Ariel Lassiter each collected their first assists of the campaign.
Ian Fray is out with a right ACL issue, while Nick Marsman, Victor Ulloa, Ryan Sailor, Kieran Gibbs and Edison Azcona are all question marks with undisclosed injuries.
The Herons have a trio of players who are very familiar with the Rave Green, as Joevin Jones, Damion Lowe and DeAndre Yedlin all featured in Seattle at one point.
Seattle Sounders possible starting lineup:
Frei; A. Roldan, Cissoko, Arreaga, Tolo; Paulo, Rusnak; Rowe, Montero, Bruin; Ruidiaz
Inter Miami possible starting lineup:
Marsman; Yedlin, Lowe, Mabika, McVey; Adams, Gregore, Duke; Lassiter, Campana, Robinson
Miami should be the fresher of the two sides on Saturday, but unfortunately, Seattle appear to be hitting their stride this season, scoring plenty of goals and rarely being caught out in transition, and we expect their depth to carry the day this weekend.