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How do the Sounders stop Toronto’s strike duo?

Brad Evans says that the key is containment of Giovinco and winning the physical battle with Altidore

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Toronto FC Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of the Seattle Sounders’ first ever appearance in an MLS Cup final this weekend, team captain Brad Evans says that even though Toronto FC have two of the best forwards in the league, the Sounders are more than capable of containing them.

As for Sebastian Giovinco, who is widely regarded as one of the best players in all of MLS, Evans said that keeping the ball away from him is one of the only ways the Sounders can hope to contain him. He compared current-day Giovinco to Javier Morales’ heyday at Real Salt Lake. “They might look like they play a 4-4-2 diamond or whatever, but he’ll pop up anywhere on the field and get the ball. You can’t man mark him; it’s a Final, you’re not going to man mark somebody.” For such an elusive player like Giovinco, Evans suggested that “containment” was the best strategy, especially if the Sounders hope to impose their own style of play on the game. “It’s all about us at that point, keeping possession and making sure we finish our chances and put pressure on them.”

Luckily for the Sounders they’ve had a similar player to Giovinco alongside and against them in training sessions: Nicolas Lodeiro. Even though the Uruguayan playmaker argued that his only similarity to the Italian is that they were both of a diminutive nature, Evans says that their similarity lies in how they see the game. “They see the game different than most. They’re deadly in small spaces, and they pop up in different parts on the field.” So, even though the Sounders have to face such a top player like Giovinco, they get experience against a player of a similar caliber in rave green regularly.

As for Giovinco’s strike partner Jozy Altidore, Evans says that the Sounders’ center backs are more than equal to the big USMNT forward. “[Chad Marshall and Roman Torres] are imposing figures themselves, so it will be a big battle.” But Altidore comes with a skill set that makes him a unique threat on goal, and an excellent foil for Giovinco. “When Jozy has time and space, he can make plays. He’s not a typical Alan Gordon target striker, he also is very good with his feet and can see big passes and key moments.” According to Evans, stopping Altidore will be a physical battle first and foremost, and the Sounders will have to work hard to limit him from getting the “time and space” he needs to make big plays.

All of this is easier said than done, of course, but the Sounders are certainly better equipped to deal with Toronto’s fearsome twosome than most teams. On Saturday, however, they’ll have to turn all of this talk into action on the pitch.

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