Match preview: Sporting and Seattle gear up for monumental Sunday showdown

Despite back-to-back losses, Seattle appears firmly in the mix for a fifth Western Conference title and MLS Cup appearance since 2016. Prolific forward Raul Ruidiaz is second in MLS with 14 goals and has been one of the six Seattle players to receive MLS All-Star Recognition this summer alongside brothers Cristian and Alex Roldan, midfielder Joao Paulo and defensemen Yeimar Gomez Andrade and Nouhou Tolo. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei notably returned to action on September 11 after a lengthy injury absence, further bolstering a defense that has a league-low 0.83 goals against average. The Sounders have done particularly well on the road, as their 7-2-2 record is the best in MLS.

Like Seattle, Sporting have a solid baseline and an advertised veteran goaltender. Tim Melia has consecutive clean sheets and ranks second in MLS with a 0.95 goals-against average, tying a league record by winning 10 games for the seventh consecutive regular season. The 35-year-old is protected by a solid team of defenders who have consistently performed well throughout the year. Center-back Andreu Fontas leads the league in added goals, with advanced analysis measuring a player’s contribution on the ball to attack and defense, while compatriot Spain Ilie Sanchez has shown versatility in moving from his role as a patented defensive midfielder to central defense. Left-back Luis Martins, meanwhile, is the only Sporting player to appear in all 25 regular-season games this year.

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