Going into the match, Seattle sit six points clear of Sporting KC for that coveted top spot with 58 points from 30 matches, with manager Peter Vermes' group currently holding a game in hand, while even on 52 points in the No. 2 spot with the Colorado Rapids. With that in mind, Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei told reporters they're expecting an opponent that will come out firing from the opening whistle.
"I think a tie doesn't do them any good, they're going to need to come out swinging and try to get to three points," Frei said. "And they have more than capable players to succeed, so we're well aware of that. They have good players, good attacking players, good defensive players, they're always a tough team to play against.
"So we expect them to come out hard, but we value this game ourselves too. This is a really big game for us, so I think we'll prepare properly to give it a good shot and hopefully a good performance."
The clubs have already met twice this season, with the road team emerging victorious each time. Sporting KC got the better of round one, taking a 3-1 victory at Lumen Field back on July 25, before Seattle exacted some revenge with a big 2-1 result at Children's Mercy Park on Sept. 26.
"It's an important game for both teams, we're all trying to get as many points as we can and trying to make the playoffs," Vermes said on Friday. "It's been two tough games against them, one here at home, one at their place, obviously we have one more there. It's always difficult playing there, but we're going to go with everything we have if we're going to continue to try and get points."
One common thread between those first two matches? Sporting KC attacker Johnny Russell found the scoresheet in each one, continuing a trend in recent years where he's emerged as a Rave Green nemesis.
Stopping the dynamic Scottish winger is easier said than done, with Frei noting Russell's knack for making things happen even when he's a point of emphasis.
"He's got a little bit of everything: He's got that hunger, he's got that edge, he's got the technique, he's got the audacity to try things and he's got the skill to back it up. That's what you want in offensive players," Frei said of Russell.
"He's one that we're definitely aware of, we're always aware of him, but he seems to be able to always find something. So a tall task tomorrow to try and shut him down, but we'll do our best."
Aside from impacting the standings, it's the type of match that can act as a good measuring stick come the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, when every opponent becomes high-quality opposition. Seattle already have a top-four seed locked up, while SKC can clinch and earn a top-four seed themselves as well during Week 32.
"They're a great team, Peter's a great coach, they play a very distinct 4-3-3," Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said. "There's a style of play that he likes and he demands out of his team, so you know what you're getting: Hard-working, 4-3-3, they've got great quality players. [Daniel] Salloi has done a really good job, obviously they have other players, but he's their No. 1 goalscorer, Russell the captain, very good and their goalkeeping is very solid."