Three Key Match-Ups: at Chivas USA

Sounders FC vs. Chivas USA

MLS Regular Season
Saturday, April 19; 7:30 pm PT; StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
TV/Radio: JOEtv (KZJO, channel 22/cable 10); KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; THIS-TV (KOMO2, Spanish); ESPN Deportes Radio, 1490 AM (Spanish)

Sounders FC meets Chivas USA on Saturday at the StubHub Center for the first of three meetings between the two clubs. Seattle has an 11-match unbeaten streak against Chivas and here are three matchups to watch out for as the Sounders look to make it an even dozen.

Clint Dempsey vs. Carlos Bocanegra

The two latest U.S. National Team captains will go toe-to-toe at the StubHub Center as Dempsey aims to continue his hot streak of five goals in the last two matches against his former U.S. and Fulham teammate in Bocanegra. Both players are in their first full MLS seasons since departing for Europe – Bocanegra in 2003 and Dempsey in 2007. Dempsey has caught fire of late and it will take more than just the veteran center back to slow him down.

Mauro Rosales vs. Leo Gonzalez

Speaking of captains and former teammates, Sounders FC’s captain for two years is Chivas USA’s new setup man as Rosales went to the Goats in an offseason trade that landed Seattle the top pick in the Allocation Ranking and Tristan Bowen. Seattle used that Allocation spot to nab Marco Pappa, who has played a good role off the bench in the last two matches. However, the matchup to watch for is Rosales against Gonzalez, Seattle’s left back. The two have dueled many times in training from 2011 until Rosales’ departure in 2013, so will have great familiarity with each other. This will be a good test for Gonzalez as he continues his progress from offseason groin surgery. Rosales has already gathered three assists in six matches for his new club. If Gonzalez can stay tight to him and cut down that service, Chivas will have trouble getting the ball to Erick Torres, who leads the team with five goals.

Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle and Kenny Cooper vs. Eric Avila and Andrew Jean-Baptiste

Two things stack up very well for Seattle in this meeting. Sounders FC has shown a propensity for using the team’s speed to get in behind defenses, particularly through Neagle and Martins, and Chivas USA has been brutalized by teams that make diagonal runs. FC Dallas did it in a 3-1 win on March 22 and the LA Galaxy did it again on April 6 in a 3-0 win and Seattle can do it too if they can gain quick possession in the midfield.