Match Preview: Sporting Kansas City Opens Up 2014 Against Seattle Sounders

USA TODAY Sports

The defending MLS Cup Champions travel to Seattle to take on a nemesis that always seems to win it late.

About the Teams

Sporting Kansas City

The defending champions are in good shape to make a strong run at the title once more in 2014. Sporting returns 10 out of 11 starters, including all four pieces of the MLS best back line two years running. The most notable difference is Eric Kronberg in goal, replacing the retired Jimmy Nielsen. Other differences include the addition of Sal Zizzo on the wing, who may or may not start in this opening match, and Andy Gruenebaum as backup keeper. There should be no difference in the high-pressure offense that brought Sporting Kansas City so much success in 2013.

Seattle Sounders

The Sounders went through an offensive makeover this offseason. The loss of Eddie Johnson to DC United changed the way they advance the ball. Instead of using his aerial ability, they will now push Clint Dempsey as a center attacking midfielder with Martins and Cooper up top. The attack will now go through a series of passes through the middle to get it to those two forwards. Now, whether Dempsey will play on Saturday remains to be seen. He spent the preseason on loan to Fulham and just played in a national team match on Wednesday. The jet lag may push him out of the starting lineup for Saturday.

Who to Watch

Sporting Kansas City- Eric Kronberg

The new Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper has been put into a less than ideal first game as starter. Seattle's crowd is going to be raucous and the Sounders' attack is still very strong. It will be interesting to see how Kronberg rises to the occasion in his first match as full-time starter. One thing Nielsen was extremely good at was directing the back line and having them form a solid defense. Kronberg's ability to communicate effectively with his back line will be a huge part in how he transitions into the starting role.

Seattle Sounders- Kenny Cooper

Kenny Cooper is the brand new piece in the Sounders' attack, complementing Martins up top. It will be interesting to see him adjust to the new environment in Seattle and to a different attack than FC Dallas'. His job will be to effectively bully past the physical Sporting KC back line and to be ready for the service that he and Martins will be receiving from the center midfield. If he does not have a good game then the Sounders may be able to rely on Martins to get some scores for them but if he has a good game as well as Martins then Sporting KC may be in trouble.

How they will win

Sporting Kansas City

With Seattle's back line being very new, Sporting KC needs to catch them in their early season form and to make them pay before they gel together. The best way to do this is to push the attack forward and to catch the Sounders' back line in a flux, capitalizing on early season mistakes. With the way that Sporting KC's front line has been playing for the past year, they hold an advantage over the Sounders because they have been playing together longer and can hopefully overtake a new back line. It won't be easy since the defenders the Sounders brought in are very good, but hopefully Sporting can catch them before the rust wears off.

Seattle Sounders

The biggest deficiency on Sporting KC right now has to be Seth Sinovic. Sinovic is probable for Saturday but he is also recovering from a bit of an injury. A strong attack like Seattle can cause trouble for Sinovic is he is not 100% on his game. The Sounders need to push on Sinovic's side, then force it into the center when Sporting needs to compensate. The Sporting back line is a tough nut to crack and a new attacking formation is going to have a hard time scoring early, but they can do it if they can overwhelm Sinovic.

Predictions

Lineups

Sporting Kansas City: Kronberg; Myers, Collin, Besler, Sinovic; Rosell, Nagamura, Feilhaber; Zusi, Dwyer, Sapong.

Seattle Sounders (From Dave Clark): Frei; Remick, Marshall, Anibaba, Yedlin; Alonso; Pappa, Evans, Neagle; Martins, Cooper.

Scoreline

Sporting Kansas City 2-1 Seattle Sounders

I see Sporting KC pulling this one out because a team that has been playing together for longer is going to have more chemistry than a newer team, especially early in the season. This, I believe, will play into Sporting Kansas City's hands.

It's been three months. The march to defend the title begins now.

1389025911_medium

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join The Blue Testament

You must be a member of The Blue Testament to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Blue Testament. You should read them.

Join The Blue Testament

You must be a member of The Blue Testament to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Blue Testament. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker