The Seattle Sounders are hosting Sporting Kansas City on Sunday at Lumen Field (6 p.m. PT; JOEtv, Prime Video, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS) in a gigantic clash atop the Western Conference table. Here are three matchups to watch:
Raúl Ruidíaz vs. Andreu Fontás
There is simply no stopping Ruidíaz right now. The Peruvian Designated Players leads MLS with 11 goals this season, including five in his last seven matches. He’s also coming off a midweek match that saw him earn MLS Player of the Week after scoring a Goal of the Year candidate. The main person with the unenviable task of trying to contain him is Fontás, the fourth-year SKC center back. The Spaniard missed a big chunk of last season, but he has been a formidable penciled-in starter for Head Coach Peter Vermes in 2021.
Brad Smith vs. Johnny Russell
The Sounders will face arguably the best winger duo in MLS this year in Russell and Sallói. The former has only scored once in 13 matches this season, a regression from his normally lofty production numbers, but he still has one of the best left foots in the league cutting inside from the right. The cat and mouse game between Smith and Russell on the Sounders’ left flank will go a long way in determining Sunday’s outcome.
Kelyn Rowe vs. Dániel Sallói
With Alex Roldan still away with El Salvador at the Concacaf Gold Cup, it will likely be the veteran Rowe getting the nod at right wingback in Head Coach Brian Schmetzer’s 3-5-2 formation. His work will almost certainly be more defensive as he tries to slow down Sallói, a man reborn after a well-documented dreadful past two seasons in which he produced just one goal in 35 matches. This year, though, the Hungarian has played at an MLS Best XI-level halfway through the season, recording three assists to go along with eight goals, which is third in MLS.