The Seattle Sounders are taking on the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday (7:30 p.m. PT; JOEtv, Prime Video, 1090 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM) at Earthquakes Stadium in northern California. Here are three matchups to watch:
Jordan Morris vs. Florian Jungwirth
Morris had one of the best matches of his career in the Sounders’ historic 7-1 win over the Earthquakes last month, notching a goal and a career-high three assists. In San Jose Head Coach Matías Almeyda’s man-marking system, the unenviable task of guarding Morris 1-v-1 fell to Jungwirth, who struggled all evening trying to keep pace. Morris is arguably the worst matchup for anyone in the league given his pace and ability to get to the end line with the ball, so trying to use only one person to stop him could lead to another nightmarish outing for the ‘Quakes.
Jordy Delem vs. Andrés Ríos
With Gustav Svensson going through quarantine protocol after returning from international duty with Sweden, Delem will need to do a lot of the dirty work defensively in the middle of the park that Svensson normally does. Ríos has a team-high five goals this season, including three in his last four matches, from his attacking midfield role in Almeyda’s 4-5-1 formation. The Sounders will need Delem to get stuck in and disrupt Ríos as much as possible.
Brad Smith/Nouhou vs. Cristian Espinoza
Whomever gets the nod at left back on Sunday will have to be wary of Espinoza, San Jose’s Designated Player right winger. The 25-year-old Argentine has 20 assists in his first 48 MLS matches over the last two seasons and does a great job setting up chances from out wide. Whether it’s Smith or Nouhou, either’s ability to stifle any traction up the Earthquakes’ righthand side and force Espinoza to play defense in his own half will go a long way in determining Sunday’s result.