The Seattle Sounders face Toronto FC (1 p.m. PT; JOEtv, YouTube TV, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM; TICKETS) on Saturday in Week 7 MLS action. Here are three matchups to watch, presented by Toyota.
Gustav Svensson vs. Alejandro Pozuelo
As a hard-nosed No. 6, Svensson is used to doing the dirty work in midfield. That task will be especially difficult on Saturday, as he’ll be largely responsible for shadowing TFC’s newest acquisition, Alejandro Pozuelo. The Spanish midfielder has hit the ground running in MLS, nabbing two goals and two assists in just two starts. Beyond the scoresheet, he offers creative verve and guile in midfield, providing a focal point for chance creation. If Svensson can keep Pozuelo in his back pocket, he’ll starve leading-scorer Jozy Altidore of the service he requires.
The Reds have proven vulnerable to counterattacks in recent outings. An underrated passer capable of playing a 60-yard diagonal pass, Svensson’s defensive nous and passing range will be instrumental to the Rave Green getting out on the counter.
Kelvin Leerdam vs. Jonathon Osorio
Leerdam’s praises have been sung through the first five matches for his contributions in the attack. The Dutch defender, meanwhile, has quietly strung together several solid performances at the back, locking down the right flank. He’ll face his toughest of the season on Saturday, as Osorio is one of TFC’s best chance creators, with three assists to his name from four starts. The Canadian international is a clever, technical player, but he lacks the blistering pace of a stereotypical winger. If Leerdam can consistently force Osorio to the outside, isolating him from the rest of TFC’s midfield, he’ll be able to shuttle him down blind alleys all afternoon.
Kim Kee-hee vs. Jozy Altidore
Arguably the most intriguing matchup of Saturday’s fixture, Kim and Altidore will face off for the first time in their MLS careers. The South Korean international is a truly modern center back, blending elite defensive instincts, composure on the ball and rapid recovery speed. Conversely, Altidore, who has three goals and one assist from just 201 minutes of MLS action, is a nightmare for defenders with his immense strength and technical acuity on the ball.