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Revolution vs. Sounders: Storylines to follow in week nine

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Will the Revs attack click on the road? That, and four other headlines to track.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at New England Revolution Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

A week-and-a-half removed from a 0-0 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes, the Revolution will square off with another west-coast opponent when the team visits the Seattle Sounders on Saturday. Here are five storylines to follow ahead of the week nine matchup:

1. How will the Revolution respond from a disappointing three-match stretch?

During a three-match run ranging from April 15 to 22, the Revolution picked up a meager two points. That outcome wasn’t what Juan Agudelo or his teamamtes had in mind; after Saturday’s draw vs. D.C. United, Agudelo said, “Unfortunately we weren’t able to pick up very important points...This could have been one of those games, and the past game against San Jose, where we hoped we could have gotten (more) points out of here.”

To get back on track, the Revs will need to stick with the defending champs on the road. That’s a tough task, though Jay Heaps remains focused on earning a result: “Very important that we find a way to get points against Seattle. I think they're an excellent team,” Heaps said during his midweek media availability. “[CenturyLink Field is] always a difficult place to play, but that said, I feel like we had a strange week in the sense that we didn't get all the points we wanted at home, but we had some positives and some areas where we can get better."

Can the Revs overcome their mid-April struggles and earn a positive road result?

2. Can the Revolution limit Seattle’s attacking options?

The Sounders attack runs through Clint Dempsey, though the Revolution will have several players to keep an eye on come Saturday. Nicolas Lodeiro, Will Bruin and Harry Shipp have already established themselves as attacking threats, combining with Dempsey to contribute 10 goals, four assists and 21 shots on goal in just seven matches this season. Dempsey and Morris both scored during last week’s 3-0 rout of the LA Galaxy.

Much of the pressure to stall this attack will fall on Xavier Kouassi, who has already developed a reputation as a midfield disrupter capable of commanding the center of the park. Can Kouassi & Co. stand strong in the Emerald City?

3. Will the Revolution attack click on the road?

Despite scoring twice against D.C. United on Saturday, the Revolution attack never quite found a rhythm. In fact, the offense has gotten off to an uneven start this season, looking sharp during a few isolated matches (namely, against Houston and Minnesota) and not-so-sharp during others.

On paper, the club should score multiple goals per match; the Revs boast no shortage of attacking talent. But it hasn't quite come together that way—at least not yet. Maybe it's the lack of accurate service. Maybe it's the playing style of Kei Kamara. Maybe it's an over-aggressive finishing approach.

Regardless, the Revolution have a golden opportunity to steal a road point, or three, against an ailing Sounders defense (more on that later). To do so, the club will need to deliver cleaner final passes and, quite simply, begin putting shots on frame.

4. Can the Sounders overcome injuries to four key players?

No Brad Evans. No Roman Torres. A questionable Chad Marshall and Oniel Fisher. The Sounders will limp into Saturday’s contest with several possible absentees, meaning Brian Schmetzer will need to field a second-choice lineup—particularly along the back line—for the second week in a row.

These injuries didn’t hurt the club last weekend, as the Sounders defense pitched a shutout against the Galaxy. Will Schmetzer get the most out of his bench yet again? You can view up-to-date injury reports on mlssoccer.com.

5. Will Kelyn Rowe score his first career goal in his old stomping ground?

Rowe, who grew up 30 minutes south of Seattle, will play in his home town for the first time since May 2016. The versatile midfielder played 77 minutes in that match, taking two shots (one on goal) during a 2-1 Revolution win.

Rowe has played five matches against the Sounders in his MLS career but has never recorded a goal. Saturday seems like as good a time as any to score his first; in addition to playing in front of countless friends and family members (Rowe said his parents have handled ticket distribution), the UCLA grad will host a young cancer patient as part of “Kelyn’s NEGU (Never Ever Give Up) Crew.” The program gives patients associated with the Jessie Rees Foundation a memorable gameday experience.

Correction: the last time Rowe played the Sounders (May 2016), the match was at Gillette Stadium. Rowe last played in Seattle on March 8, 2015 during a 3-0 Revolution loss.

The Revolution and Sounders kick off at 10:00 p.m. ET on Saturday.