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5 Things we’d like to see when Sounders host Sporting KC

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The Sounders should be able to field something slightly closer to a first-choice lineup.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Seattle Sounders FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Sounders return home after a two-game road trip to face second-place Sporting Kansas City. It’s a classic six-pointer that could go a long way toward deciding who wins the Western Conference.

Here’s what we’d like to see:

Reinforcements coming

The Sounders' win on Thursday night in Austin was historic because Seattle became the first team in MLS to start five teenagers in a league match. The circumstances that led to that record, of course, were because nearly half the roster is injured or on international duty. Brian Schmetzer also elected to rest some veterans on Thursday, presumably with one eye on Sunday’s match against Sporting Kansas City. We’ll likely see Raúl Ruidíaz start, for instance. Xavier Arreaga returns from suspension, as well. — Mark

Hello, fellow youths

Given the rest some players got and the return of Arreaga, the average age of the Sounders’ starters is virtually guaranteed to go up. I’d be shocked if at least two of them aren’t in the starting lineup, but my hope is at least three get extended runouts. Personally, I’d love to see Josh Atencio and Danny Leyva paired up in the midfield and would love to get another extended look at Reed Baker-Whiting, at the very least. I’m convinced all three of these players have considerable upside and this game would provide a very real test. — Jeremiah

Keep an eye on wide areas

SKC has scored the most goals of any Western Conference team largely because their winger play is really, really good. Designated Player Johnny Russell hasn’t been contributing at the same clip this year, but he’s still been highly effective. Daniel Salloi is stepping up after having a few down years. Without Alan Pulido, however, SKC is going to have to rely on their wingers even more. I suspect the game plan for KC is to play these wingers high and wide, just outside of the centerbacks for Seattle, and try to attack in behind. Gotta keep an eye on their pace. — Mark

Room to breathe

As good as the Sounders’ start to the season has been, they’ve failed to create much space between them and their competition in the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield race. They can’t do much about the New England Revolution, but this is a huge opportunity to take a commanding lead in the West. A win would put the Sounders eight points clear of Sporting KC just as they’re getting ready to get a few more veterans back into the rotation. — Jeremiah

Double-helping of BBQ tears

I don’t necessarily have a favorite BBQ city in America, but I know people in Austin and Kansas City will each try to explain to you that they’re the best. I’m sure they both have convincing arguments, but the Sounders have the chance to taste the BBQ’d tears of both teams this week. Don’t let the opportunity slip. Six points directly on the back of the first loss of the season would be a FANTASTIC shot across the bow of the rest of the league. — Mark