The Seattle Sounders are hosting the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday (6 p.m. PT; FOX 13+, Prime Video, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS) with a postseason berth on the line. Here are three matchups to watch:
João Paulo vs. Ryan Gauld
If you want to know where Saturday’s match will be won or lost, look no further than this colossal matchup in the middle. João Paulo is having an MLS MVP- and MLS Best XI-caliber season and enters off a game in which he produced a contender for MLS Goal of the Year. He’s been the best two-way central midfielder in the league this season, and he’ll need to put in another strong shift against summer signing Gauld. The 25-year-old Scot joined the ‘Caps from Farense in Portugal’s top flight and has hit the ground running, scoring two goals and three assists and revolutionizing Vancouver’s attack. He’s on the short list for MLS Newcomer of the Year already.
Will Bruin vs. Andy Rose
With Raúl Ruidíaz away with Peru for FIFA World Cup Qualifying, Bruin will bear the No. 9 load on Saturday after a brilliant performance in a win over the Colorado Rapids last weekend. Look for him to battle for space against the former Sounder Rose, a midfielder who has converted to a central defender in Vancouver’s three-center-back system.
Shane O'Neill vs. Brian White
Vancouver Designated Player forward Lucas Cavallini is gone with Canada for World Cup Qualifiers as well, but the ‘Caps have a strong weapon in White, who leads the team with nine goals on the season and is the reigning MLS Player of the Week following a hat trick over the San Jose Earthquakes. It’ll be a team job to keep White at bay, but O'Neill in the center will have to ensure the group is organized and knows where White is at all times, especially when Gauld is pulling the strings underneath.