The Seattle Sounders are hosting Minnesota United on Sunday (1:08 p.m. PT; ESPN, ESPN Deportes, 93.3 KJR FM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS). Here are three matchups to watch:
Nicolás Lodeiro vs. Wil Trapp
When the Sounders are at their best — and what they demonstrated in spades in the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League Final — Lodeiro is bossing the midfield. He doesn’t always need to be on the ball, but the way he finds little pockets of space and dictates tempo are a huge part of how Seattle operates. Trapp is an experienced MLS defensive midfielder, but he’s going to have his hands full trying to slow down “probably the greatest acquisition in MLS history” on Sunday.
Jordan Morris vs. Oniel Fisher
Morris, like Lodeiro, will be extremely fresh on Sunday, as the pair had the last two matches off following their CCL win. He’ll go head-to-head down the left flank with his former teammate in Fisher. The Sounders iced the CCL Final on a play that started with Morris stretching Pumas’ back line and running into open space. If he gets opportunities like that this weekend, it’ll be a long afternoon for the Loons’ defense.
Obed Vargas vs. Emanuel Reynoso
Slowing down Reynoso would be a difficult task for anyone in MLS, even the likes of MLS MVP finalist João Paulo. But with JP sidelined for the rest of the year following ACL surgery, the onus falls to 16-year-old Vargas. He will have help, of course, mainly from central midfield running mate Albert Rusnák and the two center backs behind him, but Minnesota’s entire attack runs through Reynoso, who will look to be on the ball as much as possible. Vargas has been tremendous in the early stages of this season, playing a level that belies his age, but how well his defensive acumen comes through against Minnesota will go a long way in determining the outcome of the match.