Seattle, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of struggling teams contending to advance to the Western Conference semifinals will square off at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday as Seattle Sounders FC plays host to the Colorado Rapids.
Neither club enters the postseason in particularly great form as the Rapids suffered a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Vancouver Whitecaps FC in their final regular season outing while the Sounders ended the campaign with four losses from their last five league contests.
Seattle's descent has been especially puzzling given the manner in which the club strengthened its squad during the summer with the addition of Clint Dempsey.
But with injuries and international call-ups denying the Sounders any sort of continuity from week to week, it has been difficult for head coach Sigi Schmid to tinker with his tactics and personnel.
The Sounders boss managed to try a new formation in the club's regular season finale, deploying a diamond midfield for its meeting with the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday. It resulted in the Sounders getting more possession on the night, something that helped them claim a point from the contest as the two sides finished level at a goal apiece.
"We're looking for the right combination where we can get Clint the ball and he has options that he can play to, as well," Schmid told the Sounders' official website. "So playing with two forwards and Clint in that attacking midfield, everybody seemed a little more comfortable with that."
Colorado's form heading into the postseason has been a bit more up-and-down, but the club's most recent defeat at the hands of Vancouver has left head coach Oscar Pareja in an uncomfortable position.
"When you lose a game like that, you can say that we're not really in a playoff mode that you want to see a team in," the Rapids boss said after the match.
Colorado will be looking to recapture the form that saw the Rapids earn an impressive 7-1-4 record from June 29 to Sept. 14.
"You can't feel sorry for yourself (in MLS) if you didn't achieve things, the boys did great to get into the playoffs," said Pareja. "We were fighting today for important things, we tried to get an advantage at home in third place; but I have to recognize this group of players have done a tremendous job getting into the playoffs - that is not easy."