The Seattle Sounders host the New England Revolution on Saturday (1:00 p.m. PT; JOEtv, YouTube, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS) in Week 23 MLS action. Here are three matchups to watch, presented by Toyota.
Nicolás Lodeiro vs. Wilfried Zahibo
Three years into Lodeiro’s tenure in Seattle, it’s still difficult to enumerate all that he brings to the Sounders offense. Yes, he’s a creative No. 10 and can dissect a defense with a well-weighted through-ball. But he also covers vast swaths of ground, and routinely leads the team in pressing and touches. He’s a highly mobile, highly technical player that thrives when he can really pull the strings and put his stamp on a match.
Zahibo, conversely, is enjoying a bit of a resurgence under New England head coach Bruce Arena. A dedicated No. 6, he sits in front of the back four and breaks up play. But he’s also a rather direct passer and lacks the requisite mobility to truly shield a back line. Look for Lodeiro to roam all over the field as he seeks to influence the match, dragging Zahibo out of position and leaving the Revs defense vulnerable.
Cristian Roldan vs. Carles Gil
While the entire Revolution starting XI has enjoyed an uptick in form under Arena’s tutelage, no other player has benefited more than Gil. The Spanish midfield maestro can be mercurial at times, but his offensive production has been steadily improving of late. With four goals and four assists in his last six outings, the former La Liga and EPL player has been instrumental to New England’s recent run.
A combative, all-action midfielder, Roldan will have his hands full on Saturday. The University of Washington product has preached all season that the team needs to do a better job of dictating tempo. If he can stifle Gil’s momentum while simultaneously establishing a steady rhythm in possession for Seattle, the Sounders should be in a good position to pick up three points.
Raúl Ruidíaz vs. Matt Turner
This is arguably the most intriguing matchup on Saturday, as both Ruidíaz and Turner enter the tilt in the midst of great seasons. Both players burst onto the scene in MLS in 2018 but have had stop-start campaigns in 2019 for various reasons. Turner, 25, is an explosive goalkeeper capable of producing logic-defying reaction saves. Ruidíaz, who has eight goals and one assist in just under 900 minutes this season, has been one of the most lethal finishers in the league when available. Expect plenty of fireworks and flair from this matchup on Saturday if the Peru international is able to see the field.