Minnesota, Seattle battle for second place in West
Field Level Mediaon
Second place in the MLS Western Conference and home-field advantage through the conference semifinals are on the line Sunday when the Seattle Sounders host Minnesota United in the regular-season finale.
But that might not be the biggest storyline at CenturyLink Field.
Loons midfielder Osvaldo Alonso makes his return to Seattle, where he played for a decade and guided the Sounders to an MLS Cup in 2016, the Supporters' Shield in 2014 and four U.S. Open Cup championships.
"It's going to be special (returning to Seattle) because of 10 years playing there, coming back for my first time and playing against my former team but I have to do my job here with the team," Alonso told the team's website. "I have to focus because we have to go there (and) find a way to get three points because three points means second place. Second place means we host the first game here in the playoffs."
Both the Sounders and Loons are 15-10-8 (53 points), but Minnesota holds the tiebreaker because of its plus-10 goal differential. Seattle is plus-2.
"It adds a bit of flavor to the game, right? Ozzie returning and how special this place was to him and how the fans embraced Ozzie," Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan told the team's website. "Ozzie is a special player in this franchise, in the history of this franchise, and he's going to mean a lot going forward. But at this point, he's a Minnesota player and we have to prepare as if he's the opposing team."
In the only previous meeting this season on May 4 in the Twin Cities, the teams played to a 1-1 draw as Roldan netted the tying goal after Minnesota's Ike Opara scored the opener.
The Sounders will be without defenders Xavier Arreaga and Nouhou Tolo because of suspensions and playmaking midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro remains questionable with a lower-back injury.
Seattle is 4-0-1 all-time against the Loons, including 2-0 at home.