Another vital Western Conference contest between two teams vying for playoff positioning. Here are the key match-ups to pay attention to.
Sounders FC @ Colorado Rapids
October 5, 2013, 7 pm PT; Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
TV/Radio: NBC Sports; 97.3 FM; La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish)
Sounders FC is looking to win the season series and clinch a playoff spot against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. In the first two matches, Seattle won 1-0 in Colorado on April 20, then drew 1-1 in Seattle on July 20.
Here are three key matchups to watch in the match.
Mauro Rosales vs. Chris Klute
With his next assist, Rosales will pass Fredy Montero to become the all-time club leader in assists and Colorado has been a frequent victim of his setup play. Five of his 34 career assists have come against the Rapids. The Seattle captain has cooled since picking up four assists in six games in July and August and will have a tough marker to beat in Klute. The second-year left back is an athletic setup man himself, with three assists this season, but his main focus on Saturday will be cutting off the service from Rosales. With DeAndre Yedlin’s ever-evolving game, Klute will also have to be savvy to the overlapping runs of the All-Star right back.
Colorado’s 4-3-3 vs. Seattle’s 4-4-2
Colorado’s midfield formation will at times give Seattle difficulty, as the Rapids will put numbers into the middle of the field. Dillon Powers, Hendry Thomas and former Sounder Nathan Sturgis will likely make up Colorado’s central triumvirate, clogging the midfield with their defense-first mentality. That leaves a lot of one-on-one situations if Seattle can exploit the width of the field, but it will need to be sure not to get overwhelmed by the pressure in the middle.
Eddie Johnson vs. Clint Irwin
Six of Johnson’s 63 career goals have come against the Rapids, including two in three matches in 2012. However, he has yet to play against Colorado and its first-year goalkeeper Irwin this season, missing both previous meetings due to injury and international duty. Irwin has been a boon for the Rapids since filling in for starter Matt Pickens when he was sidelined with a fractured arm in the third game of the season and has not relented the position since, ranking among the league leaders with a 1.00 goals against average and 10 shutouts. Johnson has four goals in his last six starts.