Three Key Match-Ups: vs San Jose Earthquakes

Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes

MLS Regular Season
Saturday, May 17; 7 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: Q13 FOX; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM/SiriusXM FC (channel 94); THIS-TV, KOMO2 (Spanish); ESPN Deportes Radio, 1490 AM (Spanish)

Sounders FC and the San Jose Earthquakes meet on Saturday at CenturyLink Field for the first of three matches between the Western Conference foes, but both teams will be short-handed due to international call-ups, injuries and suspensions.

Here are three matchups to watch as Seattle looks to get back in the win column after a 5-0 defeat to the New England Revolution last week.

Obafemi Martins vs. Ty Harden
Harden may be making a return to Seattle where he starred for the University of Washington from 2003-2006, but facing Martins is hardly a welcoming gift. Martins has four goals and a league-leading six assists, and without Clint Dempsey in the lineup will have much more of the offensive focus for Seattle. That will also mean a greater focus on scoring for Martins. With San Jose missing Clarence Goodson on international duty and the suspended Victor Bernardez, the scoring chances could be plentiful for Martins.

Sam Cronin vs. Osvaldo Alonso
Cronin is San Jose's best connector out of the midfield and will become even more vital in the absence of forwards Chris Wondolowski and Alan Gordon, as well as midfielder Shea Salinas. A member of the 2009 U.S. National Team who played two matches in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Cronin will be challenged by Alonso in the center of the park. If Alonso can limit Cronin's distribution, it could cut off a large portion of San Jose's attack.

Cordell Cato vs. Seattle's outside backs
Seattle won't have its starting right back, as DeAndre Yedlin is away with the U.S. National Team. In addition, left back Leo Gonzalez has played just 30 minutes in the last four matches because of a hamstring injury. While Gonzalez could be back, Seattle will be left with either Jalil Anibaba or Zach Scott at right back for the first time this season. With Cato's speed, that Seattle is all-too-familiar with after he played the 2012 season with Sounders FC, he could gain an advantage up the flanks. However, if Gonzalez is available, he has shown a propensity to defending speed well, while Anibaba started all 34 games at right back for the Chicago Fire last year, so he has the wherewithal to stand up to the San Jose offense.