Sporting Kansas City vs. Seattle Sounders | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Sporting Kansas City vs. Seattle Sounders
2017 MLS Regular Season
Children's Mercy Park - Kansas City, Kan.
Wednesday, May 17 - 8:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
The previous time these two clubs met on Sporting's home ground, Kansas City drove a stake into Sigi Schmid's tenure with a 3-0 rout against a Sounders team that left its fight on the flight from Seattle. Schmid was out, Brian Schmetzer was in -- and Seattle went on a late tear that saw them lift their first MLS Cup in December.
Wednesday's result has yet to be decided, of course, and Schmetzer's achievement last year likely means he's earned a good deal of grace for some time to come. Still, the Sounders are not in a good place right now. After Sunday's 4-1 away thrashing by the no-longer-woeful Chicago Fire, Seattle sit ninth in the 11-team Western Conference on 10 points after 10 matches.
Sporting, meanwhile, will be looking to guarantee an entire year's worth of not losing a league match at home. That last happened on May 27, 2016 -- and after Wednesday, SKC don't play at home again until June.
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting will be glad to get back to Children's Mercy Park after some frustrating away results -- a 2-0 loss to expansion side Minnesota United that saw Kansas City's right-side defensive backups burned twice in the first half, and Saturday's 2-2 draw at Orlando City SC. While that was the Lions' first time being held without a win at their new stadium, Sporting manager Peter Vermes called both of Orlando City's goals "soft" and maintained that his team should have picked up all three points.
Even so, Latif Blessing's brace in a poacher's role while filling in for the suspended Dom Dwyer was a welcome sight for a club that has spent more than a year trying to find scoring depth up top. So is the fact that Dwyer, after his enforced night off for caution accumulation, has found his scoring stroke after a slow start and will be on fresh legs against the Sounders.
Sporting's defense will need to be back on their game after the short turnaround , too, if always-dangerous playmaker Nicolas Lodeiro is on the pitch for Seattle.
- Suspended: None
- Int'l Duty: D Erik Palmer-Brown (US U-20s)
- Injuries: OUT – F Diego Rubio (torn ACL)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): Tim Melia – Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic – Benny Feilhaber, Ilie, Roger Espinoza – Gerso, Dom Dwyer, Jimmy Medranda
Notes: Sporting have gone unbeaten in their last 14 regular season home games (11-0-3), outscoring their opponents 31-10 in that stretch. It's the longest home unbeaten streak in club history.
It's not that the Sounders can't score this season -- they're averaging a respectable 1.5 goals per match -- but when you're giving up 1.6 goals per game, as they are, that doesn't bode well for long-term success.
With the defensive corps depleted by injury and suspension (check out the casualty list below), that situation isn't likely to magically solve itself on Wednesday night. Seattle could find themselves caught between a rock (if Sporting decide to press high) and a very hard place (if SKC aim for possession and probing through balls, to keep Seattle from collapsing into the box when Kansas City use their speed on the wings).
That said, this is a team that knows how to turn things around and make a long run out of the dark. If Sporting let up in dangerous places, as they did several times against Orlando City, Seattle can make them pay for it.
- Suspended: Joevin Jones (red card)
- Int'l Duty: None
- Injuries: OUT – D Nouhou Tolo (left shoulder dislocation), D Roman Torres (left hamstring strain), D/M Henry Wingo (right ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE – D Oniel Fisher (left hamstring strain), D Chad Marshall (lower back pain), M Aaron Kovar (groin surgery)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Stefan Frei – Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, Tony Alfaro, Oniel Fisher – Cristian Roldan, Osvaldo Alonso – Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris – Will Bruin
Notes: Seattle's Nicolas Lodeiro and Clint Dempsey have both hit the woodwork four times this season. No other player in MLS has done so more than twice.
- Overall: SKC 4 wins (12 goals) … Seattle 7 wins (13 goals) … Ties 3
- At SKC: SKC 2 wins (9 goals) … Seattle 4 wins (9 goals) … Ties 1
Referee: Ted Unkel
Assistant Referees: Joe Fletcher, Adam Wienckowski
Fourth Official: Sorin Stoica