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Preview: Seattle Sounders vs Sporting Kansas City

Could the Sounders be the end of the road for Peter Vermes?

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Sporting Kansas City Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The MLS weekend ends with a Sunday afternoon kickoff between the Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City. We’re just 10 games into this season but there’s already a 17-point gap between these two teams, as the Sounders sit atop the Western Conference and Sporting are in the basement. With Seattle soaring and SKC sinking, how will Sunday’s match go?

One key stat

10 — SKC has started the season with a run of 10 winless games. That’s one shy of tying the MLS record, shared by Real Salt Lake in 2007 and the Colorado Rapids in 2019.

What the Sounders will try to do

As I’m sure you’re aware, Seattle is dealing with a bit of a tricky injury situation. Raúl Ruidíaz is still out for a few more weeks. Nouhou has been declared out, Kelyn Rowe is out 6-8, and neither does Cristian Roldan doesn’t even have a timeline to return.

Given that the Sounders are a little light in attack and at fullback, I wonder if we’ll see them go back to their 3-4-3/3-4-2-1 formation they deployed in 2021. By switching to this formation, you could deploy Reed Baker-Whiting and/or Ethan Dobbelaere at either/both wingback positions. Having the extra protection of three centerbacks means that the youngsters can focus more on contributing in possession and in attack without getting caught out in dangerous areas on the wings. You’d also probably see Alex Roldan play as a hybrid CB in this formation or maybe Xavier Arreaga starts.

What Sporting Kansas City will try to do

It’s sort of hard to imagine, but SKC is even worse than they were at the end of March when a heavily rotated Sounders side beat them 4-1 in their own stadium. They have scored one (1) goal in five league matches since they played the Sounders. It’s just impossibly bad from Peter Vermes and his team. Sure, they’ve had some rotten injury luck, but this is beyond that.

Because they’ve been so bad this season, there’s not really much to glean from what they’re trying to do from a tactical sense. They still predominately build up on their left-hand side, but they’re not very good at it. The one thing we know about SKC is that they’ll be desperate to win.

Vibe check

Vibes around the team are sort of medium, I guess. A scoreless draw in Salt Lake isn’t a bad result at face value, despite how bad Real Salt Lake is this season. On top of that it feels like playing SKC is always something that’s more of a chore than a pleasure. However, with that said, wouldn’t the vibes be quite good if Seattle were the ones to get Peter Vermes fired?

How close to full strength is everyone?

  • SKC could line up on Sunday missing five starters. Things are grim.
  • The Sounders are still in the thick of what should (hopefully) be their worst injury situation of the season. They may need to change the formation to deal with this reality.

Projected lineups

Sounders (4-2-3-1): Frei; A. Roldan, Ragen, Yeimar, RBW; Vargas, Rusnak; Chú, Lodeiro, Morris; Héber

Sporting Kansas City (4-3-3): Melia; Ndenbe, Voloder, Rosero, Davis; Walter, Thommy, Espinoza; Salloi, Pulido, Russell

What you need to know

Sounders record (1st in the West, 3rd in the Shield): 6-2-2, +10 GD

SKC record (LAST in the West, LAST in the Shield): 0-7-3, -12 GD

Where: Lumen Field, Seattle, WA

Kickoff time: 1:55pm Pacific Time

Commentators (AppleTV): Keith Costigan & Maurice Edu

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