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Sporting Kansas City vs Seattle Sounders: Three Questions with Sounder at Heart

I spoke with Dave Clark of Sounder at Heart ahead of Sporting Kansas City's weekend match up with the Seattle Sounders at Century Link Field. KC picked up a big win Wednesday and now go to Seattle hoping to continue a 4 game unbeaten run.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

We ask them...

1.  After a big win at Vancouver, Seattle is in 3rd place with a couple games in hand on the leaders. Is this team going to win back-to-back Supporter's Shields?

I hope so. Winning stuff is a lot of fun. Seattle is succeeding on the strength of its offense and defense, and may even be a more complete team than last year. There are some issues. Width can be lacking at times, while the depth is an issue. Last year there were two attacking veteran options on the bench. This year there is just Chad Barrett and some kids that need to make joy happen someday. The defensive depth is weaker. It's not that Djimi Traore and Jalil Anibaba were good, but they were there and good enough for MLS play. Now at centerback depth there is just Zach Scott.

That's the biggest worry really, depth. It's all really young or it's Barrett and Andy Rose. If a wave of injuries happen the Sounders are unlikely to maintain this pace.

2. Clint Dempsey is having an absolutely ridiculous season thus far, but Sounders have been passing the ball all over the field and scoring beautiful team goals. Are the Sounder's licking their chops facing such a questionable back line?

There are some reasons to doubt Seattle's ability to run up the score on KC. The offense without Martins is merely good. Chad Barrett says that he's confident in scoring on a set-piece to get around Sporting's clutchy-grabby nature, but that's not this year's thing. Sounders are going to need to score either by Clint Dempsey's otherworldly powers or through Neagle/Barrett/Pappa working as a strong support staff. If the midfield works as it did on the road against Vancouver things should be alright, otherwise the offense is going to be dependent on Dempsey making MLS history, which he could.

3. The Sounders' lineup is familiar with a lot of the usual suspects. Is there anyone KC fans might not know and should watch for?

Will answered this over on the Sounder at Heart Facebook page.

While most of the media talks a lot about the lethal attack, less is spoken of the Sounders' surprisingly good defense, particularly the outside backs that add width to the offense. When DeAndre Yedlin left for Tottenham over the off-season, many wondered how we would adapt. Our answer came in veteran English right back Tyrone Mears. While not as attack-minded as Yedlin was, Meats excels at choosing opportune moments to bomb forward, and his expert crosses add a fantastic dimension. Meanwhile, on the left, Dylan Remmick has been making a case for being the long-term starting left back with his incredible pace and sound crossing. As good as he is now, he hasn't hit his ceiling yet, and if he can stay healthy, he will be am exciting player to watch.

Absences for KC to work with?

Obafemi Martins is out.

Predicted Lineup and score:

Frei; Remick, Marshall, Evans, Mears; Neagle, Pineda, Alonso, Pappa; Dempsey, Barrett

1-0 in the 3rd minute of stoppage time?


They ask us...

1 - Blowing out New England to start a double-match week has to feel good. Which starters are likely to start on the bench here in Seattle?

Yes blowing out an ol' foe definitely felt good. Especially with such a depleted lineup. In addition to Opara and Myers who have been out, Zusi and Espinoza were both out on Wednesday. On top of them, BOTH quality left backs the club has were out. Rookie Amadou Dia was given another start and at one point SKC had 3 rookies on the field.

This weekend it looks like Sinovic and Espinoza will still be out. But Zusi may at least be on the bench, and Marcel De Jong should be back and provide some stability on the backline.

2 - I didn't think Krisztian Németh would be good in MLS. His numbers make me look dumb. How did he adjust to the league and succeed so quickly?

A lot of that credit can be given to Vermes, who is Hungarian himself. Istvan Urbanyi is also a Hungarian coach for Sporting Club. Vermes had his eye on Nemeth since the kid was like 16, and before he knew Liverpool wanted him as well. I believe having those two coaches helped ease the process, but knowing how much confidence PV had in him is what has given Nemeth this swag all season.

From his first touches on the ball in preseason it was clear Nemeth was going to have fun this season. Streaming the matches I almost dropped my computer a couple times from excitement. Literally his first or second touch on the ball was an overhead kick and he was already confidently dribbling passed people in the box. He has had all this success from the winger position as KC lack a real option there, but I heard him call himself a striker after the match Wednesday. If he were in that position he would have several more. Sporting KC has not had that sort of player that when give any look on goal, you know he will put it home. He is truly lethal. Now he and Dom have developed a bit of rapport that (at least it did against NE) provides enough firepower up front to mask the problems in defense.

3 - Is the tall backline susceptible to fast movements around them?

Well, the backline is probably susceptible to slow movements around them at the moment as well. Ike Opara was literally the only aerial threat on the team before he went down. Now Matt Besler at 6' is the tallest.  Kevin Ellis, who replaced Ike, is just... he's just really small. Anibaba then became one of the tallest on the team and he has been okay, but everyone is waiting for Chance Myers to return to his RB slot in a couple weeks after missing a year with a ruptured achilles. Then at LB, both Sinovic and De Jong are both pretty short.

I'm confident PV will bring in a quality CB to replace to Ike in the next window. Chance will come back and provide stability. And at some point... one of Sinovic or De Jong should be healthy. Until then, this thrown together back line is indeed susceptible to damn near everything.

Significant Absences: Ike Opara is out for season. Chance Myers should return in a couple weeks. Graham Zusi and Seth Sinovic are still out with concussions. Erik Palmer-Brown is with the U-20 National Team for the World Cup.

Projected Lineup and score:

Tim Melia, Jalil Anibaba, Kevin Ellis, Matt Besler, Marcel De Jong, Soni Mustivar, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Krisztian Nemeth, Dom Dwyer, Jacob Peterson

Sporting Kansas City 2 - 2 Seattle Sounders