Nothing's been certain for Sporting Kansas City and Seattle this season. Sporting KC has had games where they've looked like world beaters, and others where they've looked subpar. Seattle has been off to an awfully slow start, sitting last in the Western Conference.
But if there's one thing that's for certain, when these two clubs link up on the pitch, it's going to be a showdown.
About the Teams
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Kansas City is flying high after a 4-0 drubbing of Chivas USA. They are in a four-way tie for first in the Eastern Conference, they have Graham Zusi and Claudio Bieler at the top of the league assist and goal charts respectively. Plus fan favorite and double-digit goal scorer Kei Kamara is coming back and will be eligible for selection for tonight's match.
However, this will be the second of three games in eight days for Sporting KC. Peter Vermes has had to shuffle his lineup around to accomodate resting players and dealing with some minor injuries. Due to this, Vermes isn't able to put out his strongest lineup every match this week and we may see a similar lineup to the Chivas match.
To put it bluntly, Seattle has been very poor to start the season. Plagued with injuries and dealing with the loss of two starters in the offseason has put Seattle at the bottom of the Western Conference. However, Seattle has only played seven matches thus far, and have a few in hand on the rest of the conference to try and crawl their way back up the table.
They drew with Philadelphia this past weekend, where Eddie Johnson and Mauro Rosales looked sharp in their scoring. Seattle may be on the verge of rallying back up the Western Conference standings.
Players to Watch
Sporting KC- Kei Kamara
How can there be a player to watch if there's no certainty that player will even be in the 18? Well, I have no real answer to that, but you know who everyone's eyes will be on tonight.
Kei Kamara will be eligible for selection for the first time in 2013 tonight. While there is no guarantee he will be in the 18, I wouldn't put it past Vermes to put Kamara in as a substitute late in the match. Then we can see if jet lag is affecting him or if he is 100%. We'll also be able to see how three months of playing against EPL competition will have a substantial impact on his play in MLS a la Graham Zusi's performance against Montreal after the USMNT call-up.
Seattle Sounders- Osvaldo Alonso
Alonso will be back with Seattle tonight, having not played in MLS since April 20. The reigning team MVP for three consecutive seasons will be looking to make an impact as he returns to the midfield, where he can be a dangerous person.
Alonso could cause a lot of havoc in the Sporting midfield if given the chance. Sporting's ability to get the ball to the wingers and go from there has resulted in a fair amount of goals this season. If Alonso's tenacious playstyle in the midfield shuts down Sporting's midfield, Kansas City may be in some trouble.
How they will win
Seattle will be without one of it's starting fullbacks, Deandre Yedlin, due to a straight-red ejection this past weekend, and a starting forward Lamar Neagle who earned the same. While Seattle will miss the presence of Neagle up top, the key loss is in Yedlin. Sporting will have to exploit the weakness on the flanks and use that advantage to give their wingers a chance to get in scoring position.
If Sporting can hammer down the pressure on the fullbacks, they should create enough opportunities to put a goal or two behind Gspurning.
While missing several key people due to injury or suspension, Seattle still has the magical duo of Eddie Johnson and Mauro Rosales to score goals. While Sporting's defense is notoriously strong, they've shown signs of weakness, such as the 3-2 loss to Portland a couple weeks ago.
Seattle will have to work some magic up top with Johnson and Rosales to outscore Kansas City. Seattle is just far too weak on the back line with it's makeshift staff to hope for a defensive battle.
Sporting KC: Nielsen, Jerome, Besler, Collin, Sinovic, Gardner, Rosell, Feilhaber, Sapong, Bieler, Peterson
Seattle: Gspurning; Gonzalez, Traore, Hurtado, Evans; Alonso; Martinez, Rose, Rosales; Estrada, Johnson
Sporting Kansas City 2-1 Seattle Sounders
I feel that Sporting KC will be able to exploit the Sounders' defense enough to get a couple of shots in the net, while Eddie Johnson will probably pull one back for Seattle. Expect a very tenacious, physical game.