Sounders face Orlando City going for 10th straight playoffs
After a slow start punctuated by an inability to score, the Seattle Sounders are on the cusp of another playoff berth.
The Sounders will clinch their 10th straight playoff appearance with a win over Orlando City on Wednesday night in Florida.
With 50 points, Seattle (15-11-5) is fifth in the Western Conference -- quite a feat considering how the season unfolded. The Sounders suffered three straight shutout losses en route to a 3-9-3 start.
But coach Brian Schmetzer's team has only two losses since then and is coming off a 4-1 win over the Houston Dynamo on Oct. 9 behind a first-half goal and assist from Cristian Roldan and two second-half goals from Victor Rodriguez.
Seattle's final three games of the season are against teams not headed to the postseason. After facing Orlando, the club travels to meet Houston on Sunday before closing the schedule at home against the league-worst San Jose Earthquakes on Oct. 28.
"At this stage of the year, we cannot risk injury," Schmetzer said Friday.
But Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said the club cannot ease up late in the season.
"It's important that we're all on the same page, that we're happy with how we're approaching games," he said, stressing that "being content is dangerous."
Seattle is 2-0-1 all-time against Orlando (7-20-4).
A season that got off to a promising start for the Lions with six wins in nine matches is coming to an end. With a 2-0 loss to New England on Saturday, Orlando has been blanked in five straight matches, and is winless in 12 straight (0-9-3)
The Lions haven't scored since Scott Sutter's tally in the first minute of second-half stoppage time of a 2-2 draw with the Philadelphia Union on Sept. 1.
"It'll be nice to play at home in front of our supporters. We need to try and finish the season and try to give the level of performance the supporters deserve," said James O'Connor, Orlando's third coach this season.
The Lions wrap up the 2018 home slate on Sunday against the Columbus Crew before facing the New York Red Bulls on Oct 28.
Orlando is expected to have midfielder Dom Dwyer available on Wednesday after he sat out against New England because of yellow-card accumulation. Dwyer leads Orlando with 12 goals, but has only one in his last six starts.
Both clubs, though, will likely be short-handed with players representing their national teams. Seattle could be without Nicolás Lodeiro (Uruguay), Raúl Ruidíaz (Peru), Gustav Svensson (Sweden) and Jordy Delem (Martinique).
Lodeiro leads the Sounders with eight goals and 12 assists. Ruidíaz is tied with Will Bruin for second on the club with seven goals despite playing just 12 games (11 starts).
Orlando is not expected to have Yoshimar Yotún (Peru), Mohamed El-Munir (Libya) and Amro Tarek (Egypt) available.
Updated October 16, 2018