Whenever Sporting KC and the Seattle Sounders face off it’s an exciting affair. Some of my most favorite Sounders matches have happened when these two teams play each other. My good friend Jimmy Mack and I exchanged some questions about the upcoming match.
Sounder at Heart: Sporting KC and Peter Vermes seem to have been going from one bad luck instance to another this season. They’ve been stricken with injuries, suspensions, and shocking results. Has there been a cause to all the bad luck and what needs to happen in order for SKC to qualify for the playoffs?
The Blue Testament: If you ask Peter, he’ll say it all began with Concacaf Champions League. While there may be some truth to that, we’ve seen teams before go deep into CCL without totally destroying their MLS season. The biggest issues here have been 1) injuries and 2) an aging core that was extended beyond when they should have been. Graham Zusi (excuse me, MLS All-Star Graham Zusi) and Seth Sinovic are simply not good enough to start at fullback anymore. Benny Feilhaber should be a sporadic sub at most. Andreu Fontas makes $1 million per year to sit on the bench. Roger Espinoza is still valuable but keeps getting injured or red cards. Add all that together with a striker who can’t score consistently, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
SAH: Given the lack of results this year, what’s the overall mood of the fan base? Do most fans want to see a rebuild or do SKC just need a few pieces to get back to being one of the best teams in the West?
TBT: Honestly it depends on who you ask. There’s a small group that still has hope this season will turn around. There’s another small (but vocal!) group that is ready to fire Peter Vermes. The majority of fans, though, seem to think it’s time to rebuild the roster from the ground up. The team likely isn’t going anywhere this year, so let’s see if Vermes can work some magic, flip some of the older guys and bring in some fresh blood. The defense seems fundamentally broken and needs a reset. But the most important position in many fans minds is striker. If SKC goes another offseason without bringing in at least a TAM-level striker not named Nemeth, though, there might be riots in the stands.
SAH: SKC haven’t been very good when they play in Seattle. What do they need to do in order to get a result against the Sounders? Conversely, what can Seattle do to exploit this SKC team?
TBT: Realistically what they need to do is bunker and hope to steal a goal on the counter, but ultimately play for a draw. That’s not Peter Vermes’ way, though. SKC will come out in their typical attack-minded 4-3-3, and it will leave both Graham Zusi and Seth Sinovic exposed on the wings. Sinovic is more of a natural defender, but Zusi has been exposed by left wingers all season long. If Seattle over load the left side, SKC might be in trouble.
The midfield is another area of concern for Sporting. Roger Espinoza is out on a red card suspension, which means he’ll likely be replaced by one of Benny Feilhaber, Gianluca Busio, or Gedion Zelalem. None of them are the midfield enforcer Roger is, so Seattle’s midfield may be able to overrun SKC from box-to-box.
The reserve questions and answers can be found over at The Blue Testament.