Usually early in the season, teams don’t have much variation in their lineups.
The Sounders and New England Revolution have started four different lineups in their first four MLS matches and both will start a fifth combination on Saturday when they meet at 1 pm at CenturyLink Field.
Here is a look at three potential match-ups that could impact the outcome.
Mauro Rosales vs. Chris Tierney
On Saturday, head coach Jay Heaps may turn to veteran Chris Tierney to take the place of Kevin Alston. Coming back from an injury suffered in preseason, Tierney has played just 13 minutes in two substitute appearances.
While Rosales has had a slow start, his substitute appearance against Santos Laguna on Tuesday produced his best 30 minutes of the season. How these two hold up could mean the difference in the game for both teams, if they are selected.
Shalrie Joseph vs. his former team
Often when a player goes up against his former team, there is a bit of extra motivation to elevate his game. Shalrie Joseph downplayed that possibility when he met with the media this week, but in his only clash with the Revolution after spending nine and a half seasons wearing their uniform, Joseph scored twice in a 3-3 draw last year while playing with Chivas USA. The Sounders may not require that sort of performance from him on Saturday, but he did show that he can be dangerous on set pieces in Tuesday’s match with Santos Laguna. Perhaps the Revolution logo on his opponent’s chest will give him that extra five percent to turn those misses into goals.
Jerry Bengtson vs. Sounders center backs
Sigi Schmid has used a combination of Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Zach Scott in the club’s eight matches across all competitions thus far. Whichever two he lands on for Saturday’s match will have to keep their eyes on Jerry Bengtson, who has proven very dangerous in international play, scoring three goals in four matches during the 2012 Olympics and seven goals in seven matches in World Cup qualifying matches for Honduras. He has just three goals in 16 MLS matches, but scored New England’s only goal thus far this season. Slowing Bengtson has proven to slow the Revs.