What You’ll Watch
Seattle Sounders return to the pitch after yet another week off. This time, they are traveling to Children’s Mercy Park to take on Sporting Kansas City. Sporting (4-1-1, 13 points in 6 games played) is currently at the top of the table in the West while the Sounders (0-3-0, 0 points in 3 games played) are at the bottom.
The Sounders will look to avoid a franchise first, losing their first four games of the season. Twice they have started the season 0-3 (2016 & 2018).
The last time out, Seattle lost at home to the Montreal Impact 1-0. Sporting defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy 2-0 at the StubHub Center. Last season, the two team split the regular season series 1-1, with Seattle losing 3-0 on the road and winning 1-0 at home.
This will be the 17th meeting all-time between these two clubs. Overall, Seattle is 8-5-3 against Sporting and are 4-3-1 in Kansas City.
Seattle has been held scoreless in their last four road games dating back to the 2017 season, a club record.
A Look at the Enemy
Last Five: W-W-D-W-W, 12 goals scored and seven conceded, two straight shutouts
Goal Scoring Leader: Felipe Gutierrez, five goals
Assist Leader: Daniel Salloi and Roger Espinoza, three each
Injuries, Suspensions and International Call-ups
Jordan Morris (torn ACL), Victor Rodriguez (right knee sprain) and Kim Kee-Hee (right calf strain) are all listed as out. Henry Wingo (left thumb surgery) is listed as questionable. Harry Shipp was carted off at the end of Thursday’s practice, but no official word has come down on his availability.
Clint Dempsey will miss yet another game due to his red card he received against Dallas last month. The Disciplinary Committee decided to add an additional game at the last minute, three weeks after the originial incident.
Kelvin Leerdam will also miss this game due to his red card he picked up against the Montreal Impact.
Sporting Kansas City
Felipe Gutierrez (undisclosed injury) is the lone Sporting player on MLS’ injury report and he is listed as questionable.
Referee: Drew Fischer
Assistant Referees: Corey Rockwell, Jeffrey Greeson
4th Official: David Gantar
VAR: Geoff Gamble
What to Watch
Sporting KC’s system: It’s a 4-3-3, what else. And despite lacking a half-cocked Benny Feilhaber running the point, it plays basically the same. The midfield plays as a sort of rotating triangle - sometimes a 2-1, sometimes a 1-2. Pressure throughout the field is necessary to make the system work, and the updated roster for Sporting KC - after a rough first couple matches - has taken to it well. The back line is strong, the midfield is still finding itself, and the revamped forward line has been a mixed bag.
Crush the wings. There’s little space conceded easily in Mercy Park, but if there’s any that rises to the level of this designation, it’s the wings through the midfield third. Both outside backs are heavy contributors to the offense and neither are particularly fleet of foot.
The talent to take advantage of this exists on the Sounders roster, even in its current degraded state. Whether the ability to take advantage of that talent - and to turn it into results - exists is still up for much debate.
DOMINATE. The Sporks rely heavily on possession, and quickly recovering possession when it’s lost. Against Montreal, a team not too far from what we’ll likely see Sunday looked decently productive - ball movement was positive, as was player movement. Admittedly, the Impact are a less structured team, but SKC is far more dependent on their structure for their success than any other team in the league.
Much of the team’s ability to execute anything will hinge on whether Magnus Wolff Eikrem can find the game in a meaningful way. Another ghost performance will allow key relief space to be conceded and pin the Sounders into half the field, making the Sporting press that much easier to execute. he may be the point man, he may not - he will, though, probably be the most important player on the field for Seattle.
Bring on the goals! I dunno dudes, we gotta start with the positive thoughts somewhere. With the surprise gift of another game suspension for Clint Dempsey and the Harry Shipp news, the pickings are very slim indeed in terms of threats, but something has to come from somewhere someday.
KC’s defense has been surprisingly leaky this year, but it may have finally found its feet at just the wrong time for Seattle. Between a reigning goalkeeper of the year and the last two defenders of the year, lumping crosses in isn’t going to be a recipe for success. The overall team chemistry isn’t quite what it used to be; spacing sometimes isn’t as perfect as it needs to be. If the Sounders can get their movement right, they can create a chance or three.
A win is going to be a difficult thing, but a result isn’t out of the question. Luck’s gotta break sometime, and BBQ tears sure do taste good.
How to Watch
Date/Time: April 15, 1:00 PM
Location: Children’s Mercy Park
TV: ESPN, YouTube TV
Radio: 950 KJR AM (English), El Rey 1360 AM (Spanish)