The Seattle Sounders are hosting Atlanta United on Sunday (7:30 p.m. PT; MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, 93.3 KJR FM, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS) in their return to action following a three-week break for Leagues Cup. Here are three matchups to watch:
Raúl Ruidíaz vs. Miles Robinson
If the Sounders are going to yet again make a late-season surge, they’re going to need to rely on their star No. 9 to deliver. Raúl Ruidíaz has four goals in 14 MLS appearances (seven starts) this year, but he’s proven to be one of the best big-game players in the league since his arrival in 2018. He’ll look to get the better of United States national team center back Robinson, which he’s done in impressive fashion before. Robinson also hasn’t played an MLS match since June 10 after a long summer on international duty. In the 17 matches he’s played this season, Atlanta has conceded just 1.2 goals per 90 minutes. In the seven matches he’s missed, the Five Stripes have allowed 2.1 goals per 90.
João Paulo vs. Thiago Almada
Sunday’s tilt will likely be won or lost in the middle of the park. João Paulo is one of the best players in MLS at disrupting attacks and frustrating opponents in transition. Atlanta loves to get out on the break led by precocious playmaker Almada, who won the FIFA World Cup with Argentina last year. The creative attacking midfielder, who recently took over the No. 10 kit, has eight goals and 12 assists in 21 MLS matches this season.
Yeimar vs. Giorgos Giakoumakis
The Sounders will need their stalwart Colombian center back to come up big this weekend as they look to get back to winning ways. Yeimar has been excellent all season, leading MLS in interceptions while anchoring Seattle’s defense that has recorded the most clean sheets (11) in the league. His main responsibility will be cutting out opportunities for Giakoumakis, an imposing center forward who has hit the ground running in his first season in MLS. Atlanta signed the Greek international from Scottish giants Celtic, and he’s already hit double-digits in scoring, tallying 10 goals in 17 matches (11 starts).