The Seattle Sounders will visit New York City FC on Saturday (10 a.m. PT; ESPN, ESPN Deportes, KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360AM) in their first and only meeting of the 2017 MLS regular season. Here are three matchups to watch:
Center backs Chad Marshall and Roman Torres vs. forward David Villa
The two Sounders center backs will have quite a challenge on Saturday slowing down MLS’ third-leading goalscorer in Villa. The Spanish striker has eight goals so far this season and is one shy of 50 during his NYCFC tenure. The Sounders have three shutouts in their last four matches, though, and keeping Villa in particular off the scoresheet will go a long way in leaving the Bronx with at least a point.
Attacking midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro vs. defensive midfielder Alex Ring
NYCFC’s Fininsh central midfielder Ring has been a rousing success in his first season after joining from Germany’s FC Kaiserslautern. He has a lot of offensive and defensive responsibilities in Patrick Vieira’s 4-3-3 formation, and he’ll need to be up to the task of slowing down Seattle playmaker Lodeiro, who has one of the league’s best motors and loves to find little pockets of space. If Lodeiro can force Ring to be more defensive-minded, it should stifle NYCFC’s ability to build from the back.
Forward Jordan Morris vs. center backs Maxime Chanot and Alexander Callens
Fresh off a return from United States international duty, Morris will look to split NYCFC’s center back pairing of Chanot and Callens. NYCFC has conceded six goals in its last three MLS games, so there should be a handful of opportunities for Morris to sneak in behind. Especially if Lodeiro can get the better of Ring, Chanot and Callens will have multiple responsibilities and will need to be all but perfect to prevent the Sounders from getting on the board.