Jesse Marsch isn’t buying into the narrative that the Seattle Sounders is a team without a pulse — or a chance — in the Western Conference.
“It is a team full of talented players so we know they have had a slow start, but that’s not uncommon for them,” Marsch said after training on Tuesday. “They have had slow starts the last three years and the previous two years they have managed to finish really strong and find a way to get to the final. I think for us to expect anything less than their best would be foolish.”
“Our job on the day is to make sure the game is difficult, the game is hard that we lock in to some of their key players and make sure they don’t have freedom to get the game going for their team and to still play our way, to be aggressive at home to be confident and really go after the game,” Marsch said.
The Red Bulls, meanwhile, rebounded from a sluggish first half to draw Columbus Crew SC, 1-1, Saturday. The club is in a brutal stretch of five games over the course of 15 days in two competitions. Their match against Seattle comes just three days before a Round of 16 U.S. Open Cup clash against the Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium.
“They’re a low-scoring team, but in the second half of the season they’ve found a way to turn their season around every single year,” midfielder Tyler Adams said of Seattle. “Whether it’s top of the west, second in the west, we can’t let them fool us when they come to Red Bull Arena now. They had a good result against DC and that’s exactly what they’re looking for is to gain momentum and get their season going.”
Adams and Tim Parker, who both started for the US national team in a 1-1 draw with France on Saturday, are important reinforcements for a Red Bulls team without attacking midfielder Kaku, who came off the bench to play 30 minutes in his Paraguay debut on Tuesday, and defenders Michael Murillo and Fidel Escobar, who are with Panama at the World Cup.
“It’s really good to have them back, but we want to make sure we’re not stressing them too much with two games coming up,” Marsch said. “We have to try to get the balance right so that we can give ourselves the best chance of finding a way to get a result on Wednesday and then turning around on Saturday and going after the Open Cup game.”