Sunday’s contest between Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City is a traditional ‘six-pointer.’ With just one point separating the two teams, and the Colorado Rapids lurking just behind Seattle, the importance of the match cannot be overstated. Viewers on FS1/FOX Deportes (4 PM PT) will be blessed watching the number 1 and number 6 attacks in the West and the number 1 and number 3 defensive teams. Their expected Goals numbers are just as strong, with KC at 3rd in xGD in the West and Seattle at 4th.
Seattle will be a bit tired compared to Sporting. KC’s last match was a 2-nil win over Chicago on September 11th. In that same span, the Sounders have played Minnesota United (1-0 win), Santos Laguna (1-0 win), Real Salt Lake (1-0 loss), and Club León (3-2 loss).
Brian Schmetzer will try to right the good ship Sounders, hoping that the constant flow of games and the desire to correct their recent form gives his team a small boost.
For The Blue Testament, Chad answers Three Questions.
SaH: Is the general impression that this match is a measuring stick to see who exactly is King in the West? Or is it just another weekend MLS match?
tBT: A tight playoff race with small margins for error is pretty standard for the West. While New England breezes through inferior competition to a Supporters Shield over there, we’ll just continue to beat the hell out of each other every weekend. But this is a big one, for sure, although it obviously won’t declare King of the West just yet, especially with a third head-to-head between these teams coming up next month. That day will have even larger repercussions as we’ll be down to just five matches left in the season. Still, a six-point swing in either direction on Sunday will absolutely have an impact on the final standings.
SaH: What are the ways Dániel Sallói can’t beat a team? He’s having as complete a season as any attacker in the league.
tBT: That’s a good question. At the moment it feels like the only thing that could hold him back is himself. He’s still so young and he needs to grow in the mental aspect of the game. He can get in his own head and let emotions get the best of him during a match. After his breakout year in 2018, he didn’t score another goal until the next-to-last game in 2019. That would be the ONLY goal he scored for two years, until matchday one this season when a ball basically bounced off him, and into the net. It was a gift. Then he was off the races! So there may still be some maturing he needs to do, but Salloi has shown this year that he’s grown up. In a very big way.
SaH: Usually Peter Vermes teams are defense first, but the 2021 Sporks are all about the attack. Has he changed or is this just because of the talent on hand?
tBT: It’s in the man’s blood. He’s a defender and he’ll always have a certain focus on defense. At the very least a player will never make it on a Peter Vermes field at any position, including striker, if they aren’t willing to do the defensive work his system demands. That being said, Vermes has a plethora of attacking tools this year. Goals can come off the boot of five different players at any moment. Everyone is clicking nicely and players like Johnny Russell are rounding into form for the final stretch.
Nicolas Isimat-Mirin was brought in to reinforce the back line this year. He was off to a strong start, but an injury forced Vermes to start Ilie Sanchez at centerback for much of the year. Don’t let that fool you into thinking the defense has been bad! Sporting KC is coming off two consecutive shutouts, and five in the last eight matches. Also, only four teams in MLS have conceded fewer goals than Sporting KC.