Stefan Frei vs NE 150314

Three Key Match-Ups: vs San Jose Earthquakes

Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes

MLS Regular Season
Saturday, March 14; 7:00 p.m. PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: Q13 FOX; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; ESPN Deportes 1490 AM (Spanish)

The San Jose Earthquakes visit CenturyLink Field on Saturday in Sounders FC’s first Western Conference matchup of the season. Following its 3-0 win over New England last weekend, Seattle is looking to grab three more points before the club’s two-week break from MLS action.

Here are three matchups that could be the deciding factors in Saturday night’s contest.

Chris Wondolowski vs. Stefan Frei

Saturday night will mark Wondolowski's 200th career MLS match and his 163rd appearance for the Quakes. The veteran striker, who played in last summer’s World Cup alongside Seattle forward Clint Dempsey, has scored more times against the Sounders than any other player in league history. Last August, his second-half goal earned San Jose a draw at CenturyLink Field. Frei has improved tremendously since the last time these two teams met, and if he can keep Wondolowski off the score sheet, the Rave Green have a great chance to win.

Matias Perez Garcia vs. Micheal Azira

An attacking midfielder who plays right behind Wondolowski, Perez Garcia is another playmaker that could cause trouble for Sounders FC. The 5-foot-5 Argentine became San Jose’s third Designated Player when he joined the club last summer. For much of Saturday’s game he will likely be matched up with Azira, the second-year Sounder who is filling in for the injured Osvaldo Alonso at central defensive midfield. Azira had a strong outing against New England last weekend in his seventh career MLS start.

Sounders’ momentum vs. Quakes’ hunger

Sounders FC had its best season in 2014, winning the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield before reaching the Western Conference Championship. San Jose, meanwhile, finished last in the conference and scored the second-fewest goals in the league. Seattle started this season with a resounding victory over the Revs, while the Quakes lost to FC Dallas on a heartbreaking goal in stoppage time. It’s safe to say the visiting team will be hungrier than ever to get a victory on Saturday, something the Quakes have failed to do in their last 16 MLS games.