MLS Western Conference Finals Preview: Seattle Sounders v Colorado Rapids

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Seattle Sounders FC

Seattle Sounders and Colorado Rapids go head-to-head in tonight's first leg of Major League Soccer's Western Conference Final.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Colorado Rapids

Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids

 2016 Western Conference Final – Leg 1

 CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington

 Tuesday 22nd November (US)/ Wednesday 23rd November (UK)

 10pm US ET/ 3am GMT

Injuries may play a significant part in the outcome of the first leg of this Western Conference Final, as both the Seattle Sounders and Colorado Rapids are likely to be without key players for tonight's first leg.

The MLS Rookie of the Year, Seattle's Jordan Morris, is a major doubt for tonight's encounter with the hamstring injury which forced him off at half-time in the second leg of Sounders' Semi-Final victory over FC Dallas.  

At the other end of the field, Seattle's imposing centre-back Roman Torres is also struggling with hamstring issues, whereas Andreas Ivanschitz and Alvaro Fernandez are also questionable. 

Seattle's Clint Dempsey remains sidelined with his season-ending heart issues. 

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Vancouver Whitecaps FCColorado Rapids' Shkelzen Gashi (R) may miss out

Colorado have injury concerns of their own. Designated Player Shkelzen Gashi will hope to shake off the ankle knock picked up in the Rapids' win over the LA Galaxy in the previous round, whilst MLS Goalkeeper of the Year nominee Tim Howard is definitely out with an adductor injury. 

However, whilst Morris and Gashi are potentially significant losses, the absence of Howard will see the return Zac MacMath to the Rapids' line-up. 

MLS: Portland Timbers at Colorado RapidsRapids' Goalkeeper Tim Howard is absent due to injury

Prior to Howard's expensive signing earlier in 2016, MacMath was Colorado's first choice stopper - and the 24-year-old was experiencing an excellent run of games before losing his gloves to Howard, in which the Rapids' were on an 11-match unbeaten run. 

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Seattle Sounders FCDuring the regular MLS season Colorado finished in second position, two places higher than Seattle in the West, with a 58-point haul. Seattle's 48 regular season points was enough to ensure play-off participation in the hunt for that elusive MLS Cup

Key Players

Seattle: Nicolas Lodeiro is Seattle's main playmaker and is currently experiencing some great post-season form. Despite signing mid-season, Lodeiro was recently named MLS Newcomer of the Year - mainly due to his four goals and eight assists helping the Sounders move from 9th, upon his arrival, to 4th in the Western Conference. 

Colorado: Jermaine Jones's vast experience and midfield know-how may be crucial over the two legs. Since signing to the Rapids from New England Revolution, Jones has scored three goals in eight starts, but will be instrumental to Colorado's attempts to subdue one of the most dangerous attacking outfits in MLS. 

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Seattle Sounders FC

Predicted Line-Ups

Colorado Rapids (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath, Eric Miller, Jared Watts, Axel Sjoberg, Marc Burch, Sam Cronin, Mike Azira, Jermaine Jones, Sebastien Le Toux, Kevin Doyle, Dominique Badji.

Seattle Sounders (4-5-1):  Stefan Frei, Tyrone Mears, Roman Torres, Chad Marshall. Joevin Jones, Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan, Nicolas Lodeiro, Erik Friberg, Jordan Morris, Nelson Valdez.

 

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