About the Teams
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting KC will see a couple of news faces on the pitch, most notably Brad Davis and Nuno Andre Coelho. They may also have some differences in the expected lineups. Benny Feilhaber, Justin Mapp and Davis have all been dealing with some minor injuries and the turf in Seattle could keep some of them off the field for the opening weekend. There have been some rumors that Jordi Quntilla could step into the midfield in place of Soni Mustivar, but the midfield will be questionable until the actual lineup comes out.
The Sounders have one of the most intriguing players on their squad in young US-international Jordan Morris. Not only is he a big prospect for the future, but one of the ways that the Sounders are going to have to replace Obamefi Martins. They do, however, still have Clint Dempsey and a fairly formidable creative attack. One drawback is that the Sounders have had an abbreviated training due to their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal matchup with Club America, however they do have experience playing top continental competition.
Who to Watch
Sporting Kansas City- Brad Davis
It still feels weird writing that. Anyways, with the departure of Krisztian Nemeth, Davis becomes the next man up to start as a winger. There's a couple of reasons why he's interesting. The first is how well he can hold up as the season rolls along, given he faltered a bit last year. The second is how he is able to play with a striker like Dom Dwyer, who, with service, has been able to put in 24 goals in a season. The third is whether he takes over set pieces. You would think so, but Graham Zusi has still been taking set pieces even with Feilhaber on the squad so who knows.
Seattle Sounders- Jordan Morris
Morris is the most hyped player to come out of college in a very long time, and for good reason. He's gotten looks with the United States national team, led Stanford to the NCAA College Cup and was the subject of international teams' interest before signing with the Sounders. He's still young and a little unpolished, as seen in the Champions League, but he has immense talent and could provide headaches for Sporting KC's back line. How well he connects with Dempsey will play a large part in how well Seattle does.
How They'll Win
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Kansas City needs to have the back line like they've had during their cup-winning years. They have the personnel with a new face in Coelho added to the core of the back line, and they've re-signed Soni Mustivar. This connection between these five men is going to important because they're going up against Morris, Dempsey, and an important hold up forward in Nelson Haedo Valdez. They don't have Martins anymore, but they have three candidates to put in ten-plus goals. They have to shut them down.
The Sounders have got to create a disconnect between the midfield and the forwards. This involves keeping the ball forward and putting the pressure on Mustivar and the back line. Davis can put in a ball on a dime and Feilhaber is very creative, but if they don't have the ball they can't do anything. The three-headed monster of Morris-Valdez-Dempsey needs to be very active not only in putting the ball in the net but also keeping the ball in Sporting KC's side of the pitch.
Blue Testament Voters Lineup: Melia; Sinovic, Besler, Coelho, Myers; Mustivar, Espinoza, Feilhaber; Zusi, Dwyer, Davis
Ben's Sporting KC Lineup: Melia; Sinovic, Besler, Coelho, Myers; Mustivar, Espinoza, Quintilla; Zusi, Dwyer, Davis
Seattle Sounders (from Sounder at Heart): Frei; J.Jones, Marshall, Evans, Mears; Alonso, Roldan; Ivanschitz; Dempsey, Valdez, Morris
Sporting KC 0-1 Seattle Sounders (90th minute score)