Ahead of Minnesota United’s Western Conference finals clash with Seattle Sounders we spoke we Mark Kastner from Sounder At Heart to get some insight on our opponents.
E Pluribus Loonum: Since the Loons entered MLS in 2017 they are 0-5-1 against Seattle and on top of that are 0-3 and have never scored in Seattle. What worries you about this Minnesota team and also how can the Sounders keep that streak going?
Sounder At Heart: I think Minnesota enters this Western Conference Final with no pressure at all. A lot of the narrative surrounding the MLS Cup playoffs this year is who is the favorite and who are the underdogs. No one has embraced the underdog title quite like Adrian Heath, even if at times it’s sorta weird. Coming into the match with all the pressure being on Seattle could work in Minnesota’s favor.
I think the Sounders need to stick to what got them to the dance. They have a clear gameplan and it’s worked really well. No need to change things up. I expect the streak to continue.
EPL: You asked about how important both Hassani Doton (as a native of Seattle) and Ozzie Alonso (who spent years with the Sounders) are for the Loons. How does it feel to be going up against both players in one of the biggest matches of 2020?
SAH: I think it’s really cool. There was a lot of debate (still is, I suppose) about letting Alonso leave Seattle. I think it was the right move but I’m glad to see him doing well. I’m really interested in seeing him in this game. It should be fun.
Dotson is sort of the one that got away, it seems. He was never really on the radar for the Sounders Academy, but it’s also cool to see a local kid playing somewhere else.
EPL: This is the first time this season the Loons and Sounders have faced off. So I am obliged to ask how did the team and fanbase handle the outbreak and has it really had any effect on the Sounders this season?
SAH: 2020 has obviously been a crazy year but it’s nice to have the Sounders being their normal selves. Seattle are a really good soccer team and they’ve navigated the pandemic as an organization fairly well. They’ve had a few players test positive, namely Raul Ruidiaz, but that was on international duty with Peru.
Being a fan this year has been challenging. There’s been no fans in the stadium and with everything going on, things have definitely been hard.