MLS Preview: Sounders target Orlando with attacking reinforcements
Seattle Sounders will look to get back on the winners' list against fellow MLS strugglers Orlando City, with the reigning Supporters' Shield champions having lost their past five league matches.
The Sounders finished the 2014 campaign with the best regular season record in MLS to lift the Supporters' Shield but injuries to Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey, plus the latter's CONCACAF Golf Cup commitments, have seen Sigi Schmid's team struggle over the past two months.
Since the start of June, Seattle have won just two of 13 games in all competitions, including their 3-1 loss away to LA Galaxy last week.
Their bad luck continued against the Galaxy too, with striker Chad Barrett coming off with a hamstring strain after just three minutes.
But with former Levante, Mainz and Panathinaikos attacking midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz having joined Schmid's squad last week, the Sounders may finally have the firepower up front to claim three points when they host Orlando on Sunday.
Orlando have only won one of their past six games in all competitions.
"I can't wait for that moment [his Seattle debut]," Ivanschitz told the Sounders' website.
"I need time to settle in of course, but I think it will be a great moment to wear the jersey and play in front of the fans. I can't wait."
Seattle (32 points) sit sixth in the Western Conference, 10 points adrift of leaders Vancouver Whitecaps, who travel to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
Fourth-placed Sporting (37) have not lost at home this season but will be coming off the back of their US Open Cup semi-final against Real Salt Lake, while the Whitecaps will arrive in Kansas with seven away victories in MLS in 2015 - more than any other team.
If the Whitecaps lose, Galaxy (40) could claim top spot in the West with victory at third-placed FC Dallas (38).
New York City, who lost their third straight derby to the Red Bulls last week, will begin the round's action against Eastern Conference leaders DC United on Thursday, while San Jose Earthquakes will welcome Colorado Rapids to California on Friday.
Toronto FC will visit New York Red Bulls in Saturday's opening game before New England Revolution take on Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake host Portland Timbers.
Eastern strugglers Philadelphia Union and Chicago Fire will complete the round on Sunday.