The Seattle Sounders are hosting Real Salt Lake on Tuesday night (7:30 p.m. PT; FS1, FOX Deportes, 1090 KJR AM, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS) in Round One of the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs. Here are three matchups to watch:
Jordan Morris vs. Erik Holt
After missing almost the entirety of the 2021 MLS regular season with an ACL injury, Morris returned to action for the last two games against the LA Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps. Morris, 27, has a rich history of producing in the postseason, playing a critical role in three runs to MLS Cup. The 2020 MLS Landon Donovan MVP finalist has shown flashes of his undeniable attacking quality in his recent cameos. With two extra weeks of training and a couple of scrimmages under his belt, Morris will be champing at the bit to put his mark on the match. Whether RSL lines up in a back three or a back four, the Mercer Island native's elite pace and direct style should pose problems for Holt and the rest of the defense.
Yeimar vs. Damir Kreilach
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? We'll find out on Tuesday as Yeimar, who was a finalist for 2021 Defender of the Year, goes toe-to-toe with RSL's Kreilach, who notched 16 goals and nine assists during the regular season. A midfielder converted to a second forward, Kreilach thrives at sniffing out chances inside the box, looking for gaps between defenders to poach goals. He'll have a tall task against Yeimar, as the Colombian defender is among the league leaders for nearly every defensive metric. The winner of this matchup could decide the result in Round One at Lumen Field.
Brad Smith vs. Aaron Herrera
Part of Kreilach's success in 2021 can be attribute to the stellar wide play of Herrera. Deployed as both a right wingback and an attacking outside center back, the RSL defender has elevated his attacking contributions this year. Herrera has posted 10 assists, 42 key passes and 32 successful crosses thus far as one of the team's primary chance creators. If Smith can keep him quiet and deny crossing opportunities, the Sounders will limit the required service for RSL's strikers. And if the Australian international can pick his moments to bomb forward into the space behind Herrera in transition, he'll be able to serve up opportunities for the Sounders' forwards and midfielders.