Key Matchups

Three matchups to watch in SEAvSKC this weekend

The Seattle Sounders are hosting Sporting Kansas City on Sunday (1:30 p.m. PT; FOX, Watch free on the Apple TV app, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS) in their second meeting of the season. Here are three matchups to watch:

Jordan Morris vs. Robert Voloder

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All Morris did the last time these two teams met in March was set a Sounders MLS club record with four goals in a dominant 4-1 win. With Raúl Ruidíaz and Héber sidelined, Morris started as the No. 9, a callback to his college and early MLS days. Morris constantly got in behind SKC’s back line and finished all four goals with a one-touch finish. Héber is back and healthy now, so whether Morris starts in his normal winger position or up front is to be determined, but he is a game-changer and match-winner anywhere on the pitch. Voloder, SKC’s 21-year-old German center back, will need to do his best to keep Morris off the score sheet yet again.

Josh Atencio vs. Gadi Kinda

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With João Paulo suspended this weekend because of yellow-card accumulation, Head Coach Brian Schmetzer may turn to 21-year-old Atencio, who already has six appearances and three starts in MLS play this season. Replacing João Paulo’s effectiveness on both sides of the ball is no easy feat, but Atencio has looked comfortable playing alongside Albert Rusnák in central midfield and also started against Sporting six weeks ago. Kinda, a Sporting KC Designated Player who made his first appearance last week for the first time since 2021 after battling a knee injury, likely won’t start, but if and when he gets on the pitch, the Israeli international has the quality to turn a match on its head.

Sounders left back vs. Johnny Russell

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Nouhou has missed the last two matches because of illness, and backup left back Kelyn Rowe exited last week’s game against Real Salt Lake with an injury. Schmetzer has a couple of options if Nouhou can’t go, most likely with Alex Roldan sliding from right back to left back and Reed Baker-Whiting or Ethan Dobbelaere filling in at right back. Whoever gets the call on the left side will need to be sound defensively against Russell, who, despite SKC’s attacking futility to start the season, can still be one of the league’s most devastating wingers on his day. His six career goals scored versus the Sounders is tied for his most against any other opponent in MLS. If Seattle can keep him quiet, then three points and a seventh clean sheet in 11 matches are very much on the table.

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