St. Louis City will try to bounce back from the fledgling club's first Major League Soccer defeat when it visits Seattle on Saturday in a match with the Western Conference lead at stake.
Minnesota United last week sent the first-year team crashing to its first defeat of the season.
St. Louis, the first expansion club to start its inaugural season with five straight victories, will be up against it as it tries to rebound against the Sounders, perennial contenders who can leapfrog them for the Western Conference lead with a victory.
"It's a new window for us," St. Louis coach Bradley Carnell said. " It's a new window of opportunity to go and start something fresh, start something new. So, what better opponent against Seattle, and then at home against Cincinnati next week?"
Goalkeeper Roman Burki said that the club's first defeat had shown the character of the team.
"It's always easy if you win all the time," he said. "Five games in a row -- everything's good and sunshine every day. But I learned that we have actual winners and fighters in the team, guys who can speak up, get loud, a little trash-talk here, trash-talk there. I would say this group are a team. After the training, they look to each other's eyes, they smile together, that's how it should be."
Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan was looking forward to a first close-up look at the MLS's latest sensation.
"It's exciting," he said. "We want to compete against the very best, so for us, this is an opportunity to give that same confidence that we've had and continue moving forward against a strong team."
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said the battle for Western supremacy -- the Sounders are two points adrift of St. Louis -- "certainly adds a little bit of spice" to the contest.
"And I have confidence that if our team plays up to our potential, chances are we'll come up with a good result."
In the Eastern Conference, FC Cincinnati seeks to tighten its hold on the conference lead when it takes on last season's conference champion, Philadelphia.
Cincinnati coach Pat Noonan, a former assistant to Union coach Jim Curtin in Philadelphia, sounded less than ecstatic after his team held on for a 1-0 victory over Inter Miami last week to move a point ahead of Atlanta atop the East.
Noonan said it was "really hard to pull some positives" from a week in which pre-match preparations were disrupted by players returning from international duty and the hamstring injury to midfielder Obinna Nwobodo.
Noonan, who said Thursday that perhaps he could have been a bit more celebratory, described this week's build-up as "much stronger."
"I think the mentality, the consistency of what we've typically done, the guys have responded in a really good way," he said. "They understood that we didn't play our best and we got the result. But our lead-up to this game has been really strong."
It needs to be, he said, against a Union side that beat Cincinnati in the conference semifinals last season.
Although Philadelphia has just two wins in six matches, Noonan said it would be a mistake to underestimate the Union.
"They can very easily snap out of it," Noonan said. "I've been with that group long enough to know."
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