Minnesota United midfielder Robin Lod intends to make Seattle Sounders “suffer” on Sunday by inflicting a first defeat of the season on MLS’ top side.
The Sounders lead the way at the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings after winning eight and drawing five of their opening 13 matches this term.
Following a couple of draws in a row, Brian Schmetzer’s men beat Houston Dynamo 2-0 last time out and are on the division’s longest-ever run without defeat to begin a season.
Minnesota were beaten 2-0 by Colorado Rapids in their most recent match, meanwhile, but Lod – recently back from Euro 2020 duty with Finland – is optimistic of an upset this weekend.
“It’s going to be tough. Seattle are unbeaten still so I’m really looking forward to making them suffer and have that first loss,” he said.
“There have been times when we’ve played really well against them. It’s just some small details and small mistakes we made that they make us pay.
“But I’m really looking forward for it and I feel confident going into this game against them.”
Like opponents Minnesota, Seattle have had an 11-day break between matches ahead of Sunday’s contest at Allianz Field.
Schmetzer has injuries, international absences and a congested schedule to contend with, but he is focusing on one game at a time.
“We’re managing games in the sense of how do we put the best team out there and win each game,” he said.
“We’re just trying to field healthy squads for each game. That’s all.
“As for this game, we know that Minnesota are a good team and Adrian Heath is a good coach.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Minnesota United – Tyler Miller
Miller spent time in the Sounders’ first team in 2016-17 and will reunite with his former side on Sunday after holding down the number-one jersey at Minnesota. The 28-year-old has kept a clean sheet in exactly half of his eight appearances this term, a 50-per-cent return that only four other MLS goalkeepers can better.
Seattle Sounders – Joao Paulo
The Sounders may be missing some key men but they are well stacked in midfield and can always rely on Paulo, whatever the role he is tasked with. In the 2-0 win against the Dynamo last time out, Paulo led the way for touches (106), passes (80) and recoveries (15), rightly seeing him earn a place in the MLS Team of the Week.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Seattle have won seven of the eight meetings between the sides, including a 4-0 win on the opening day of this season. Seattle’s 2.75 points per match (including playoffs) are the most in any head-to-head match-up that has been played more than five times in MLS.
– Minnesota’s seven-match unbeaten run ended with a 2-0 loss at Colorado on July 7. The Loons failed to score for the first time since a 1-0 loss to Austin FC on May 1.
– The Sounders are the first team in MLS history to go unbeaten through the first 13 games of a season (W8 D5), breaking a record originally set by the LA Galaxy in the league’s inaugural 1996 season and tied three other times before being broken by Seattle.
– United have attempted 15.3 shots per match this season, but they have the lowest shooting accuracy in the league, hitting just 26 per cent of their shots on target. Only Austin FC (5.8 per cent) have a lower conversion rate than the Loons (6.5 per cent) this season.
– Seven of Raul Ruidiaz’s eight non-penalty goals have been assisted, with five different players recording an assist on at least one of those goals. Brad Smith has assisted on three of those goals, including each of the last two.