The Seattle Sounders will wrap up the 2019 MLS regular season on Sunday as they host Western Conference opponents Minnesota United in their second and final meeting of the campaign. Here are three matchups to watch, presented by Toyota.
Cristian Roldan vs. Osvaldo Alonso
From a narrative perspective, Roldan vying for control of the midfield with his former mentor makes this one of the most intriguing matchups. Tactically speaking, whichever player is more effective at breaking up play and dictating tempo will likely determine the result.
Seattle’s former captain, Alonso has been a valuable addition for the Loons in this season. Last year, Minnesota conceded 71 goals during the regular season. With Alonso shielding the back four, that figure has plummeted to 42. Roldan, meanwhile, has done well in his two-way, box-to-box role, tallying six goals and five assists. Both players are intimately familiar with each other’s strengths and weaknesses. If the Sounders hope to pick up three points on Sunday, Roldan will need to win the midfield battle against Alonso.
Jordan Morris vs. Romain Métanire
Métanire has been a revelation for Minnesota this season, adding attacking verve and quality service down their right flank. With one goal and seven assists on the season, the attacking full back will look to bomb forward and create overloads on the outside.
Not to be outdone, Morris has put in numerous match-winning performances for Seattle in 2019. Having fully embraced his role as an out-and-out winger, the Mercer Island native has reached career-highs in offensive production, posting ten goals and seven assists. Most importantly, he’s become extremely effective at eliminating defenders in 1-v-1 situations. Look for Morris to dribble past Métanire on Sunday, forcing one of the Loons’ center backs to slide out of position and provide cover, which will open up space for Raúl Ruidíaz in the box.
Raúl Ruidíaz vs. Vito Mannone
What happens when a ruthless finisher comes up against a world-class shot-stopper? We’ll find out on Sunday, as Ruidíaz goes toe-to-toe with Loons’ goalkeeper Mannone. While Mannone may have some limitations on crosses and distribution, he’s more than capable of pulling off a logic-defying save to keep his team in the match.
Ruidíaz has not scored for Seattle in four matches, the longest dry spell of his tenure with the Sounders. He’s still making clever runs and his finishing ability is still elite. But in the last four matches, he’s demonstrated that he can link play and relieve pressure by dropping into midfield. Moreover, he’s showcased his ability to set teammates up for quality chances. The Loons will certainly focus on trying to deny Ruidíaz clean looks at goal. How he adjusts, whether that’s with his movement in the box or creating chances for others, will be critical to Seattle picking up three points.