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Prekrap - Atlanta United at Seattle Sounders: The game no one can win

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The last time Atlanta United played the Seattle Sounders the game followed the World Cup final and a team that was enjoying 10th place in the Western Conference embarrassed the league on national television. The match ended in a 1-1 draw thanks to the Sounders playing like cowards with their coach counting up all the fans in attendance and determining that his team is the reason that soccer is popular in Atlanta. Upon seeing the beautiful attacking soccer that Atlanta United played, Seattle decided to stop letting Will Bruin be their starting striker, got a South American forward and surged up the table and finished second in the West. Alas, it was for naught as they were eliminated by the 8th best team in MLS in the playoffs and got to watch Atlanta United lift MLS Cup against their rivals the Portland Timbers, a fact that I’m sure brings them much joy.

The game will be another in a stretch of matches against teams that Atlanta has something of a history against. There was the Weirdness in Toronto, the Madness in the Benz, and now the Five Stripes travel to the Pacific Northwest to play a team they’ve never beaten.

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I’m Doc Holiday now.

The Sounders come into the match winners of just three of their last 10. They are coming off of a last minute road win against the Columbus Crew thanks to an injury time goal by Nico Lodeiro, playing a team managed by Caleb Porter no doubt helped conjure the after 75th minute goal. Seattle fielded two US U-17 players in the game, Danny Leyva and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, perhaps with the understanding that this was an Open Cup match or something. With Jordan Morris somehow a part of the national team, Cristian Roldan waiting for Tyler Adams to get healthy and take his place with the Stars and Stripes, and Raul Ruidiaz with Peru, all three were working their way back with the team after losing their respective continental cup finals.

In any event, the lack of wins recently hasn’t stopped the Sounders from sitting in 3rd in the West - this seems oddly familiar - and even with several key players missing, a long unbeaten run earlier in the year - it’s getting very weird - has meant they can keep up - oh, wait - even though the wins haven’t been there... are the Sounders and Atlanta the same team, or is the league so depleted of players that results don’t even matter anymore?

Anyway, after the precipitous decline and inevitable retirement of large immobile object Chad Marshall, the Sounders haven’t had the same solid defense they did last year. Their attackers are good on their day and at home it seems like the Rave Green as is their actual nickname, will be left to play a wide open game. In case you’re wondering, here’s how they line up.

They don’t actually do tactics. Before every game, Brian Schmetzer explains how compound interest works and discusses how important it is to not spend money of avocado toast and $5 coffee because the Sounders answer the question: “What if the West Wing were a soccer team?”

So much drama, so many games

After a season of making puns with his name when he doesn’t play well, Frank de Boer and Pity Martinez talked it out and... well it seems like Pity isn’t that well suited to how FdB wants to play. At least they’re getting along? In any event, Pity was subbed for Brandon Vazquez against New York and Atlanta improved in the match and almost came away with a win. Still, the best the team has played this year has been with Pity, Josef, and Barco all on the field at the same time. It’s just that... it hasn’t happened that often. Barco has only started six league matches this season — using each opportunity to show that he’s Atlanta’s most important player — while Pity and Josef have each missed time as well for #reasons.

After two consecutive poor road performances in which the team hemorrhaged eight total goals, Atlanta United needs to get its act together. This match against Seattle is just the beginning of a hugely important stretch of the season that will heavily determine where Atlanta shakes out in the Eastern Conference come year’s end. In the next month, Atlanta plays LAFC, DC United, LA Galaxy, NYCFC and the Houston Dynamo. They also have a semifinal in the U.S. Open Cup against Orlando wedged in there. Sunday’s match against Seattle could set a tone, positively or negatively, for how this run of fixtures and Atlanta’s season as a whole plays out.