Three Key Match-Ups: vs. Chivas USA

The Sounders are in action against Chivas USA on Sunday. Here are the match-ups to look for.

Sounders FC vs. Chivas USA
July 28, 2013, 8 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: KONG 6/16; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; Univision Deportes Network (Spanish); La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish)

Sounders FC is on a nine-match unbeaten streak against Chivas USA, going 5-0-4 since their last defeat - a 1-0 loss at The Home Depot Center on June 6, 2009.

Here are some key matchups for Seattle if they are to extend that streak on Sunday.

Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle vs. Chivas centerbacks

Martins and Neagle put in a dominant performance against Chivas the first time around in a 2-0 win at the Stub Hub Center last month. Both forwards used simple passing patterns to get their opportunities. This was most evident on the goal by Martins as Neagle slipped him behind the defense with a one-touch pass. Chivas has added Carlos Bocanegra to shore up a defense that has notched two shutouts in their last four matches and has allowed more than one goal just once in their last six matches.

Carlos Alvarez vs. Seattle’s defense

The rookie out of UConn came to MLS with high expectations as a Generation adidas standout and the No. 2 overall pick by Chivas in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. He has just one goal and one assist, but with the defensive stance of Chivas, he has a lot of the offensive pressure squarely on his shoulders. Slowing down the Chivas counter-attack means slowing down Alvarez and keeping him from distributing at will.

“He’s a good player. It’s tough as an attacking player playing the main midfield role to create things in your first year,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “He’ll learn a lot from this year and obviously he’s a talented player that they’re looking to try and get forward through.”

4-4-2 vs. 4-5-1

Under Jose Luis Real, Chivas has switched from a 3-5-2 to a 4-5-1 over the last two months. That has meant a more defensive posture and one Sounders FC will have to be patient to break down. In those moments, they will need to use their quality if they hope to get the best of the Chivas defense.

“They’re going to be harder to break down than they were the last time because they’re even more defensively oriented. They get nine guys behind the ball oftentimes, so you have to do a good job of possession and you have to do a good job of isolating people at key moments,” Schmid said, noting that would be an easier prospect if he had players like Steve Zakuani and Alex Caskey available. “We don’t have some of the wide players we’ve had before, so we have to do it in different ways, we have to do it through pairs.”

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