Preview: St. Louis CITY SC and Seattle Sounders FC fight for first place

Players and coaches for Seattle Sounders FC and St. Louis CITY SC are spending the week examining their last match efforts.

Yet the showdown Saturday night pits Seattle Sounders FC and St. Louis CITY SC in a battle for first place in MLS Western Conference. Seattle stands very closely behind the upstart expansion squad from St. Louis.

In this match,  expect the home team, Seattle, to work out of a 4-2-3-1 formation as much as possible. That’s not entirely out of respect for the visitors from St. Louis.

It’s because the previous time Seattle focused on a different formation – 4-1-4-1 – they drew with Los Angeles FC, mostly in a 4-3-3.

In their other five games, they did prove beatable in their preferred 4-2-3-1, that time against FC Cincinnati. That leaves them overall 4-1-1 (W-L-D).

Then there’s St. Louis.  This is the expansion team that uniquely behaves as a seasoned, competitive MLS side.

Expect CITY to return to their more mercurial form as they try to farm points out of this match. In their last match, against Minnesota United, the team showed mostly the same 4-4-2 each half. They suffered their only loss in six games.

In those other contests, St. Louis at the very least made adjustments at the half, even if they were comfortably ahead of their opponent. And on that list of adjustments was included a different look.

The Sounders will try to power up against this capable visiting squad with the same look that has gotten them so close to first place in their conference.

KANSAS CITY, KS – MARCH 25: Leo Chu #23 of Seattle Sounders FC. (Photo by Bill Barrett/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The home team will feature forward Jordan Morris and winger Leo Chu on the pitch. Morris leads MLS with eight goals and Chu leads with five assists. Add to that this challenge to St. Louis: Seattle is second-lowest in MLS in goals allowed, averaging just 0.5 goals a game.

However, entering this match, CITY is tied for first in goals with 15. To come away with at least one point, the visitor will have to enter the stadium creating chances, taking shots, and staying focused on getting those shots on goal.

ST. LOUIS, MO – MARCH 18: Nicholas Gioacchini #11 of St. Louis City SC. (Photo by Bill Barrett/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Whether working from their preferred 4-2-3-1 or shifting to two forwards, they’ll need to maximize the St. Louis threat with striker Joao Klauss. And whether playing as a winger or as a striker in a 4-4-2, the team needs to keep feeding Nicholas Gioacchini for chances on goal.

To get back home with at least a point, City will have to get some balls into Seattle’s goal.

It’s a fight for first place. Both opponents can make a case for that spot. It will be the best game of this week.