The defending MLS Cup champions will raise last year’s banner in the Emerald City when the 2020 MLS season kicks off this weekend. The Seattle Sounders are one of the favorites to win it all per the MLS betting odds this year, and they will start their campaign to repeat against the Chicago Fire. Chicago has missed out on the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons, but the Fire are optimistic that they can finally return to the postseason in 2020.
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There were big changes afoot in the Windy City this offseason. The Chicago Fire completely overhauled their roster as new owner Joe Mansueto made his impact on the club, and he was not shy to say goodbye to fan favorites. Bastian Schweinsteiger retired shortly after the end of the regular season, and Chicago announced that Nemanja Nikolic would not return to the Fire a few days later. In November, the club traded Dax McCarty and Grant Lillard to expansion clubs, and Nicolas Gaitan, Aleksander Katai, and Cristian Martinez all said their goodbyes too.
Alvaro Medran is set to make his MLS debut this season, and the club added two designated players from Argentina in the last week. Ignacio Aliseda and Gaston Gimenez are both midfielders out to prove themselves in the MLS, and they will have talented players to work with in Luka Stojanovic and C.J. Sapong.
After making it to the MLS Cup Final for the third time in four seasons, the Sounders didn’t want to shake things up too much in the offseason. The core of last year’s championship roster is still intact, but the front office did part ways with Brad Smith and Roman Torres. Seattle acquired goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland from the Fire and Shane O’Neill from Orlando to help the defense, and then they went to South America to sign Joao Paulo and Yeimar Gomez Andrade to bolster the squad. Paulo is expected to instantly shore up the back line as Seattle’s third designated player.
There are no injuries to report for the Fire ahead of the season opener, but the Sounders will be without forward Will Bruin as he continues to recover from a torn ACL suffered last season. Additionally, Gustav Svensson is questionable due to a calf strain.
Player to Watch
Nicolas Lodeiro has been one of the top players in the MLS since joining Seattle in 2016. His signing helped put the Sounders over the top in their quest for an MLS Cup, and he is the soul of this team. The Uruguayan international has tallied 26 goals and 48 assists in 101 career starts in this league, and his vision and touch have helped Raul Ruidiaz and Jordan Morris become formidable strikers.
Free Soccer Betting Pick
It’s going to take some time for Chicago to come together. Fire fans have plenty to be excited about given the talent they signed, but you can’t just flip a switch with so many new players. That’s why Seattle is the play on Sunday afternoon. The Sounders have loads of chemistry after years of success, and they will be plenty motivated to win on the day they hang last year’s banner. I expect Ruidiaz and Morris to each score in a somewhat comfortable victory for the home team.
Major League Soccer Odds: Seattle Sounders 2, Chicago Fire 1
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