MLS is Back: Group B Preview – Seattle Sounders on top

MLS, Seattle Sounders (Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MLS, Seattle Sounders (Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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MLS, Seattle Sounders
MLS, Seattle Sounders (Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The MLS is Back Tournament commences next week. Here is a full preview of Group B, which features a Western playoff team and the MLS Cup champions.

Group B in the MLS is Back Tournament consists of the San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders, FC Dallas, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Group Stage action is set to begin on July 8th, with the first Group B match, FC Dallas vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, to be played on July 9th at 10:30 PM EST.

Group B is an intriguing group. The Sounders are the reigning MLS Cup Champions, FC Dallas are no slouch and pushed Seattle to the limit in the playoffs, the Earthquakes narrowly missed out on the playoffs after a tremendous first season under Matias Almeyda, while the Whitecaps looked new and improved prior to this season’s interruption.

Here is a full preview of Group B, the teams that compete in it, and what might be expected of the coming games.

Seattle Sounders, Nicolas Lodeiro
SEATTLE, WA – NOVEMBER 10: Nicolas Lodeiro (C) #10 of Seattle Sounders FC holds the trophy and celebrates after winning the match between Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders as part of the MLS Cup 2019 at CenturyLink Field on November 10, 2019, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images) /

Seattle Sounders

2019 Record: 2nd in the Western Conference; MLS Cup winners

2020 Results: 2-1 win vs. Chicago Fire; 1-1 draw vs. Columbus Crew

Head Coach: Brian Schmetzer

Projected Starters: Stefan Frei; Kelvin Leerdam, Xavier Arreaga, Yiemar Gomez Andrade, Joevin Jones; João Paulo, Gustav Svensson, Cristian Roldan, Nicolas Lodeiro, Jordan Morris; Raul Ruidiaz

Notable Absentees: Harry Shipp — Announced his retirement on June 17th

The core of the Seattle Sounders team that lifted the MLS Cup last November returns in 2020. Some key players are missing, of course. Roman Torres, Kim Kee-Hee, Brad Smith, and MLS Cup goalscorer Victor Rodriguez all played in that final but won’t be competing in Group B this summer.

But beyond that, the spine of the team returns. Stefan Frei and Nicolas Lodeiro are among the best players in the league in their respective positions. They are good enough to win games on their own. Cristian Roldan and Gustav Svensson return in midfield, Raul Ruidiaz is back to lead the line, while Jordan Morris is a game-wrecker when fit and healthy as he was last season. If the newer players fit in and the role players step into bigger roles, Seattle will be the strongest team in this group and the favorites to top it.