Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath acknowledged it is always difficult visiting Seattle Sounders ahead of a clash in MLS.
The Loons have dropped back-to-back road losses and fell to late defeat against FC Cincinnati last time out, leaving them occupying the final Western Conference playoff spot.
Minnesota were 2-1 losers to the Rave Green on the opening day this season, and Heath predicted another tough task on the road.
“Well one thing I do know, you don’t feel as tired when you win,” he said.
“Hopefully, you know we fly out tomorrow and we will get a couple of days to relax and do a little light session on Saturday because it’s a big game on Sunday.
“It’s never easy going to Seattle for sure.”
The Sounders will put their unbeaten home record in the league this season on the line when they face Minnesota.
The Rave Green are tied with Vancouver Whitecaps for the worst record in the Western Conference and Schmetzer’s selections have come into question recently.
But the coach defended his decision to opt for youth in the U.S. Open Cup defeat to San Jose Earthquakes last week, leaving speculation over his next line-up.
“You know what? I put a team out there that was able to win this game, dead stop. I have complete faith in Will (Bruin), in Fredy (Montero), in (Leo) Chu, in Ethan (Dobbelaere), in Kelyn (Rowe), in (Jimmy) Medranda, who was dangerous at times, his set-pieces were unbelievable. I put a team out there,” said Schmetzer of the last defeat.
“I don’t buy into that narrative. Those guys played well. That group that went on the field played really well, and I’m proud of them.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Seattle Sounders – Will Bruin
Will Bruin has regularly burst the Loons bubble in recent years, scoring three goals in his past outings against Minnesota.
Minnesota United – Dayne St. Clair
Tasked with stopping Bruin, Dayne St. Clair has been excellent for the Loons this season, ranking fifth in MLS for stops (36) and the third-highest save percentage (83.7).
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The Sounders have won nine of the 11 all-time MLS meetings with Minnesota (D1 L1, incl. playoffs), including a 2-1 away victory in April. The resulting .818-win percentage is the best for any team against a single opponent its played at least 10 times in MLS history.
– Seattle has dropped three straight MLS matches, all to teams that missed last season’s playoffs. The Sounders have had just two longer regular season losing streaks in club history, most recently a five-game run in July-August 2015.
– The Loons have struggled on the road, managing just four wins in 22 road games since the start of last season (D8 L10, incl. playoffs). Cascadia has never been kind to Minnesota, with just three wins in 17 MLS visits to Portland, Seattle and Vancouver (D2 L12, incl, playoffs).
– Seattle has won only one of its last six MLS matches at home (D2, including a penalty shootout loss, L3) and failed to score in three of their last four home MLS games (incl. playoffs).
– While Minnesota’s forwards have struggled, they’ve also done well against their opponents’ attack. Minnesota has faced the third-most shots per match this season (14.5, Seattle most at 16.6), but have the second lowest opponent conversion rate in MLS (6.2%).