Sounders forward Raul Ruidiaz
Call the Peruvian striker Mr. Playoffs because he’s more explosive when titles are on the line. Ruidiaz has scored in eight of his nine postseason matches since being signed in June 2018. But he’s also a superior player because of his defending up top and vision in setting up teammates for scores, recording six career assists in the postseason.
Sounders midfielder Nico Lodeiro
Seattle’s four MLS Cup appearances in the past five years began with Lodeiro’s signing in 2016. The Uruguayan has 10 postseason assists — most among active MLS players — the past two leading to game winners. Lodeiro causes havoc in the midfield, often wearing teams down on his own with his hustle on both sides of the field.
Sounders center back Yeimar
The Colombian has been an X-factor for the Rave Green in his MLS postseason debut. Sure, Yeimar has size but he also plays angles well and has quickly built a solid relationship with keeper Stefan Frei. Yeimar had a key block against FC Dallas to preserve the shutout and help the Sounders reach the Western Conference finals.
Columbus defender Jonathan Mensah
The Crew is stingy when it comes to conceding goals and it starts with the play of Mensah. The Ghanaian was named to MLS’s Best XI squad with a league-leading number of blocks (30) and clearances (114) during regular-season play. Mensah helped Columbus record two clean sheets in their past two postseason matches.
Columbus forward Gyasi Zardes
Columbus takes pride in defending but that doesn’t mean it has trouble scoring. Zardes has two goals and an assist in helping the Crew reach the MLS Cup final. The California native is also familiar playing Seattle in a postseason match, starting for the Los Angeles Galaxy in a 2015 loss to the Sounders.
Columbus midfielder Lucas Zelarayan
Without midfielder Darlington Nagbe, who tested positive for COVID-19 this week, Zelarayan will have to play a bigger role in controlling the tempo in favor of Columbus. That was Nagbe’s specialty but his Argentine teammate was named MLS newcomer of the year for his skills in the midfield. Zelarayan has four assists in his three playoff starts and is a solid defender.