Looking to earn its second straight home victory, Sounders FC clashes with the Colorado Rapids Saturday evening at CenturyLink Field. The odds are in Seattle’s favor, as the host side has never lost to Colorado in Seattle (8-0-1) and is on a five-game winning streak against the Rapids.
Here are three positional battles that could be pivotal factors in Saturday’s match.
Osvaldo Alonso vs. Marcelo Sarvas
Sarvas is in his first season with the Rapids, but Sounders FC knows him quite well from his time with the LA Galaxy. The Brazilian midfielder scored twice and recorded two assists in four appearances against Seattle in 2014, his most important contribution being one of LA’s two goals in the Western Conference Championship. On Saturday he will battle in the midfield with Alonso, who patrols the middle of the park for Seattle.
Chad Marshall vs. Kevin Doyle
Considering how good both of these players are in the air, this could be an intriguing matchup on set pieces. Doyle, the Rapids’ newest Designated Player, is a former Barclays Premier League striker who once led all English leagues in headers scored during a season. The Irishman recently netted his first goal for the Rapids, a well-placed header that earned his team a 2-1 victory over Whitecaps FC. Marshall, meanwhile, is a three-time MLS Defender of the Year and has been one of the league’s best at winning aerial duels throughout his career.
Marco Pappa vs. Drew Moor
Pappa is back with the team and could make his first appearance in the month of July on Saturday. Although it would likely be in a substitute role, since the crafty midfielder logged 90 minutes on Wednesday in Guatemala’s final match of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Pappa has been very successful against the Rapids in his two seasons with Seattle, scoring the lone goal in a May 27 victory and notching a goal and two assists versus Colorado in 2014. If he plays on Saturday, Pappa could be matched up with Moor, who recently moved to fullback from his usual spot in the center of the backline.