(Photo credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)
The two stingiest teams in MLS meet up Saturday night when the Seattle Sounders visit Nashville SC.
Nashville has given up a league-low 28 goals, while Seattle is second with 31 allowed.
"They are not an easy group to play against and to score against," Nashville coach Gary Smith said of the Sounders.
Seattle (12-9-9, 45 points) is tied for second place in the Western Conference with Los Angeles FC. The Sounders are a distant eight points behind first-place St. Louis City.
Seattle is unbeaten (2-0-3) in its past five matches, including a 2-1 road victory over the host Colorado Rapids on Sept. 20. Leo Cho and Albert Rusnak scored goals for the Sounders.
Nashville (12-9-8, 44 points) resides in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. A victory could put the squad back in the hunt for a top-four playoff spot and a first-round home match.
"Four of five are at home," Smith correctly pointed out of the stretch that begins Saturday. "The challenge for us is to make sure we finish in good form and we pick up as many points as we can against some very good teams."
Nashville is 1-0-3 during a four-match stretch in which it has allowed just two goals. Last Saturday, Nashville played the host San Jose Earthquakes to a 1-1 tie. Teal Bunbury scored Nashville's goal.
Nashville is led by reigning MVP Hany Mukhtar, who is tied for the league lead this season with 15 goals.
"Mukhtar finds goals," Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. "And Bunbury's goal the other day was pretty good ... They're a good team. They are capable of scoring goals.
"Talented players like (Mukhtar), they're going to get their foot on the ball."
Seattle defender Jackson Ragen expects a tight match in which toughness will be a big factor.
"We know it's a tough team and a tough place to play," Ragen said. "They're very physical, they have a good defense and are very good on set pieces. We have to go there and play our game and be ready for a physical battle."
Star Jordan Morris leads the Sounders with 10 goals.
Nashville won both previous MLS matchups with the Sounders by 1-0 scores. Both matches were in 2022.
--Field Level Media