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Brian Schmetzer has shifted focus to sealing top spot in the Western Conference after his Seattle Sounders FC side clinched a postseason spot with time to spare.

The Sounders beat Vancouver Whitecaps 4-1 last week to make certain of a place in the MLS Cup for a 13th successive season.

Seattle still have six regular-season games to play, starting with Saturday's trip to Houston Dynamo FC, and Schmetzer wants to make sure his players remain focused on a target.

"We want to finish first in the West. That's our next objective," he said. "I think the identity of the team is coming into focus.

"We know how we want to play home or away, and if we make small changes in personnel or small changes in the tactics, the team knows who they are and how they want to play."

While the Sounders are in great form thanks to four wins in a row, Houston have won just one of their last five games and were beaten 4-2 by Sporting Kansas City last time out.

The Dynamo conceded twice in the opening 26 minutes and forward Fafa Picault, who was once again on the scoresheet in that match, accepts his side have to learn their lesson.

"There's no explanation," he said. "We talked about it before the game. We talked about it in the hotel. We talked about it in the days leading up to the game.

"These are things that just can't happen. There's not a big explanation to it, but again, it comes down to fight and willingness, and I think we lacked that in the last game."

Houston Dynamo - Darwin Quintero

The Dynamo have become too reliant on Picault, who now has 11 goals and five assists to his name this season, and could do with others chipping in more consistently. Quintero managed to get on the scoresheet against Sporting KC from one of his team-high four shots. He also laid on two big chances and will be looking to build on that here.

Seattle Sounders - Xavier Arreaga

The Sounders may be welcoming back a string of international players, but they will have to make do without MLS All-Star center-back Yeimar Gomez due to suspension. Arreaga is among those in contention to return at the back for a Seattle side that boasts the best defensive record and best goal difference of any side in MLS.

- Including playoffs, the Sounders have won eight straight matches against Houston dating back to June 2017. This run is the only time Houston have lost more than five straight matches against any opponent in the club's MLS history.

- Houston are unbeaten in their last three home matches (W2 D1), though their last home match ended in a scoreless draw. The Dynamo have not gone scoreless in consecutive home matches since 1-0 defeats to Seattle and Chicago in July-August 2019.

- Seattle have won nine of their 13 away matches this season (D2 L2) including the last two in a row, tied with New England for the most road wins this season. Only one team in the post-shootout era (since 2000) has recorded more away wins in a single regular season: Atlanta United (10) in 2018.

- Picault had a goal and an assist in Houston's match against Sporting Kansas City, taking him to 11 goal contributions (nine goals, two assists) since the start of August. Only Ola Kamara (13 - 10 goals, three assists) has been involved in more goals than Picault in that time.

- Nicolas Benezet, who scored against Vancouver on Saturday, has two goals in seven appearances since joining the Sounders in August. Benezet had just two goals in 31 regular season appearances with Colorado and Toronto.

Updated October 15, 2021

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