Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City | 2016 MLS Knockout Round Preview
SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY
2016 Western Conference Knockout Round
CenturyLink Field | Seattle, Washington
Thursday, Oct. 27
10 pm ET (FS1, UniMás in USA; TSN1, TSN5 in Canada)
At midseason they had very real fears of missing out on the postseason for the first time in their history. But the Seattle Sounders have not only booked passage following a blistering run to end the regular season, they are also hosting an Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs Knockout Round game to boot. Despite losing the services of Clint Dempsey to a health issue for the final months of the campaign, the addition of Uruguayan playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro and the coaching change from Sigi Schmid to interim boss Brian Schmetzer has worked wonders for the Sounders' playoff prospects, once considered all but lost.
As a result, even though both teams officially qualified for the playoffs on Decision Day, Sporting Kansas City enter the Knockout Round clash as underdogs. While they are only the No. 5 seed to Seattle's No. 4, they did not go on the same kind of late-season run as their opponents and have largely flown under the radar. Still, Sporting swept the season series vs. Seattle and won an MLS Cup and US Open Cup trophies in recent years, with many players from that success still around, while the Sounders are still seeking their first league title.
- Analyst: Previewing Thursday's Knockout Round matches
- Lodeiro on playoffs: "We live or we die"
- Playoff mentality ingrained, Sounders ready for SKC's physicality
- Despite regular season sweep, SKC wary of Seattle
- After injuries in '14 and '15, Alonso out to prove playoff worth
- Zusi fit, ready for KO Round clash at Seattle
- MLS Now: Schmetzer, Sounders look to ride momentum
- Sounders' Evans: We silenced the doubters
- SKC encouraged by two straight clean sheets
- Schmetzer's locker-room speech in Seattle: "We're not finished"
- SKC's MLS vet Davis: "This is the right time" to retire
Seattle Sounders Snapshot
- 2016 Regular Season Finish: West No. 4 seed (14-14-6 record, 48 pts / 10-5-2 home record)
- Current Form: W-L-D-W-W
- Strengths: Addition of Lodeiro; Growth of Jordan Morris in his rookie season; Stout defending of first-choice backline
- Weaknesses: Attack can run streaky at times, and injuries and international absences have led to considerable lineup juggling this year.
- Injuries/Suspensions: Clint Dempsey (heart) - Out; Andreas Ivanschitz (knee) - Out; Dylan Remick (concussion) - Out
- Player to Watch: Lodeiro: Sporting will likely place plenty of focus on the playmaker, but he has undoubtedly jumpstarted a lethargic attack since arriving in the summer.
- Probable Starting XI: Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears, Roman Torres, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones; Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans; Cristian Roldan, Nicolas Lodeiro, Alvaro Fernandez; Jordan Morris
Sporting KC Snapshot
- 2016 Regular Season Finish: West No. 5 seed (13-13-8 record, 42 pts / 3-9-5 away record)
- Current Form: W-D-L-W-D
- Strengths: Experience in knockout games; Combination of impressive attacking play and commitment to defense
- Weaknesses: Inconsistency in 2016; Trend of costly giveaways that lead to opponent goals
- Injuries/Suspensions: Diego Rubio (knee) - Out
- Player to Watch: Benny Feilhaber: Despite not having another MVP-caliber season in 2016, Feilhaber remains a player capable of carving up opposing defenses with a single pass.
- Probable Starting XI: Tim Melia; Jimmy Medranda, Matt Besler, Kevin Ellis, Saad Abdul-Salaam; Paulo Nagamura, Soni Mustivar, Benny Feilhaber; Roger Espinoza, Dom Dwyer, Graham Zusi
Referee: Ismail Elfath
Assistant Referees: Peter Manikowski (AR1-bench); Corey Parker (AR2-opposite)
4th Official: Ricardo Salazar
Seattle vs. Sporting Head-to-Head
All-Time (14 meetings):
Seattle 7 wins, 13 goals • Sporting KC 4 wins, 12 goals • Ties 3
All-Time Playoff Meetings:
All-Time in Seattle (7 meetings):
Seattle 3 wins, 4 goals • Sporting KC 2 wins, 3 goals • Ties 2
2016 Meetings (2 meetings):
SEA 0, SKC 1 (Mar. 6); SKC 3, SEA 0 (July 24)