The Seattle Sounders are taking on Liga MX’s Club León on Wednesday (7 p.m. PT; ESPN2, UniMas, TUDN, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360AM) in the Leagues Cup Final at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Here are three matchups to watch:
Raúl Ruidíaz vs. William Tesillo
If the Sounders expect to come away with the Leagues Cup trophy, they’re going to need their talisman to step up, especially given the recent news that captain Nicolás Lodeiro underwent knee surgery again this week. Seattle will need to find service for Ruidíaz, who has 14 goals in MLS and has scored in each of the Sounders’ two Leagues Cup matches. He’ll have a tough test against Tesillo, a Colombian international center back who just missed playing against Ruidíaz in Mexico (Tesillo joined León from Independiente Santa Fe in his native Colombia the same transfer window that Seattle signed Ruidíaz). Manager Ariel Holan opted to rest Tesillo in León’s 1-0 loss to FC Juárez over the weekend for this match, and task, specifically.
João Paulo vs. Omar Fernández
León team captain and attacking midfielder Luis Montes is still working his way back to full fitness after an injury kept him out of the Liga MX roster for the MLS All-Star Game last month. He’s been coming off the bench recently, so it’s been Fernández, the 28-year-old Colombian, trying to pull the strings in the center of the park for León. João Paulo has been playing at MLS Best XI-level all season and will need another monster performance sitting in front of the Sounders’ back three to snuff out any danger through the middle. How well he’s able to do that will likely determine whether or not the Sounders leave Vegas with hardware.
Alex Roldan vs. Jean Meneses
Roldan has taken a massive step forward in his career this year, flourishing as a right wingback in Head Coach Brian Schmetzer’s 3-5-2 system and earning his first international experience with El Salvador. He’ll need to put in one of his best shifts of the season on Wednesday against Meneses, the Chilean international left winger who, like Tesillo, was rotated over the weekend for this match. Roldan will need to push into attack to make things happen offensively for the Sounders while keeping Meneses honest defensively, but he’ll have to find the right balance to make sure he doesn’t get left exposed for a counter down León’s left flank.