Sounders FC aims to get back on track when it takes the field on Sunday against expansion side Orlando City SC. The Rave Green are amidst a tough run of late, dropping five straight MLS matches, but have made a bevy of splashy signings during the Summer Transfer Window. Here are three positional battles to keep an eye on as Seattle hosts Orlando for the very first time.
Brad Evans vs. Kaká
Evans, who played in the midfield last weekend, said on Friday that he expects to remain there for the rest of this season due to the arrival of centerback Román Torres. With Ozzie Alonso nursing an injured hamstring, Evans will likely start at defensive midfield again on Sunday. In that case, he’d be tasked with shutting down Kaká, one of the best playmakers in the league. The Brazilian National Team legend has a team-high four assists this season and is tied for eighth in the league with nine goals.
Stefan Frei vs. Cyle Larin
Although he’s much less experienced than Kaká, Larin is another key player that makes the Lions dangerous in the attacking third. The 20-year-old striker has had a remarkable rookie season, scoring 11 goals in 18 appearances. The first overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, Larin leads the league in non-penalty goals per 90 minutes and is one goal from breaking the MLS rookie scoring record. This weekend he’ll look to break the record against Frei, who ranks second in MLS with 79 saves and third with eight shutouts.
Erik Friberg vs. Servando Carrasco
Last Sunday, Friberg displayed the playmaking ability that had Seattle interested in re-signing him this summer. Although the Sounders fell 3-1 to the LA Galaxy, Friberg served up a beautiful lofted through ball on Chad Barrett’s goal and was consistent in keeping possession. Against Orlando City SC, Friberg could be marked by a former Sounders FC teammate in Carrasco, who played in Seattle for the first three years of his career. The Lions acquired Carrasco in late July by virtue of a trade with Sporting Kansas City.