The Seattle Sounders won both of their matches against Minnesota United in the midwestern club’s first year in MLS, including a 4-0 trouncing at TCF Bank Stadium in August. Still, as the club prepares to host the Loons this Sunday, a Seattle team searching for its first win of the season is not taking Minnesota for granted.
Centerback Chad Marshall, who scored against the Loons in a 2-1 win at CenturyLink Field last year, said he expected Minnesota to be fired up on the road in Cascadia after nearly pulling off a result in a 3-2 loss to the Portland Timbers April 14.
“They gave us a tough game here after we went out there and got a good result last year,” Marshall said. “They’ll be fired up. They want to turn things around this year. We need to start getting points and home games are crucial.”
Seattle picked up its first point of the season in a 2-2 draw at Sporting Kansas City April 15, but defensive lapses cost the Sounders their lead late in the match.
Forward Will Bruin said from what he’s seen on film, the difference in Minnesota from last season to now is night and day.
“They’re a much better team this year from what I’ve seen so far,” Bruin said. “They’re much more dynamic in the attacking half with the addition of Quintero. They’re more compact and organized defensively. They’re vastly improved from the last time we played them, so we’re going to have to be ready for it. I think there’s going to be opportunities for us to score. If I get one early, that would be good for us.”
Most of the attention will focus on Quintero. The Colombian — recently purchased from Liga MX giants Club America for an unknown amount — has scored three goals against Seattle in Concacaf Champions League play between his time at America and Santos Laguna.
Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said the qualities Quintero adds to Minnesota are obvious.
“What I remembered and what I saw against Portland is that he’s very, very good,” Schmetzer said. “You don’t have to look back too far to find that that guy’s a quality player. He brings an added dimension to their attack. They had some guys that could put the ball in the back of the net. He’s something different. He’s something special.”
The Loons’ first designated player in club history impressed in his debut against Portland, scoring a goal in five shots and completing two key passes in the Timbers’ penalty area.
Marshall said it will be important to isolate Quintero, preventing him from finding seams in a Seattle back line that has looked disjointed in the early phases of the season.
“He’s a pacy player, but technical as well,” Marshall said of Quintero. “We need to be sharp with our lines because he’s got a ton of speed, but he can break you down as well. Just get numbers around him, always knowing where he is, but when they have a bunch of players who are like that, it’s going to be tough.”