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Sounders look to continue momentum heading into first away match of the season

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Through the first two matches of the 2023 MLS season, the Seattle Sounders are flying.

Coming off MLS Matchday 2, Seattle resides atop the early league table, having collected all six points with a league-leading +6 goal differential via emphatic home wins over the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake. 

The most recent win over RSL featured sequences of attacking play that Head Coach Brian Schmetzer dubbed “some of the best soccer the Seattle Sounders have played in a very long time.” 

That strong early form is set for a formidable test in Matchday 3, as the Sounders depart for their first road match of the season: A cross-conference clash against a loaded FC Cincinnati side.

“MLS is a funny thing. You go through phases, you want to ride the momentum,” midfielder Cristian Roldan said at training this week. “You have to ride the highs as long as possible, so, that’s our goal."

“We played two great games, no problem, but they were at home. We felt like we scored an early goal and that helped us moving forward but you can’t be too high on those performances because there’s still a lot of season left to play. You can’t become complacent.”

When it comes to playing on the road in MLS, defensive solidity is paramount, particularly against a club like FC Cincinnati. The Eastern Conference outfit boasts one of the league’s most prolific attacking trios in midfielder Luciano Acosta and forwards Brenner and Brandon Vazquez.

Keeping them at bay at TQL Stadium, known as one of the league’s more difficult venues for traveling opponents, becomes priority number one, and will certainly put Seattle’s defense to the test.

“It’s two games in, so it’s a small sample size, but their energy, the work they put in, because defending is work, that has been exceptional,” said Schmetzer. “They’re just doing it, they’re getting it done.” 

“Our goal on the road is always to get three points, first and foremost,” said Roldan. “It’s so hard to win in this league on the road, so for us, we want to go in there and play good defense first, try not to concede any goals, and then, we have the ability to score one or two goals in every game. We saw that in the first two games."

“So for us, a clean sheet is really important. That keeps us in the game. And then, defensive actions: We talked about transition, and that’s going to be really important on the road.” 

In preparation for the match, Roldan said the staff and players are honing in on areas of improvement they’ve identified from the first two matches, even with the positive results.

While the performances were positive, Roldan said he still feels the goal count could be even higher, particularly in the 2-0 win over RSL which saw multiple sequences of intricate passing play that created high-level chances.

“I told [assistant coach] Andy Rose specifically, you can’t just show good clips because then we’ll think too highly of ourselves,” said Roldan. “You have to show what we can do to get better, and that’s what we saw. We want to continue in that way."
 
“We played well but there were also chances that we missed and things we need to clean up.”

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