Normally a top-of-the-table match up, Sporting KC and Seattle Sounders are both beneath the red line at the moment. However these two teams always seem to enjoy having a go at each other, so Sunday should be no different. I got with Dave Clark from over at Sounder at Heart, to discuss the Western Conference clash.
We ask them...
1) The Blue Testament: The Sounders went with a reserve heavy lineup for the USOC Quarterfinal loss to The Galaxy on Wednesday. Is this a sign the club didn't put as much importance on the competition this year?
With a midfield that is the type put out by an S2 team that struggles in USL play it was pretty clear that Sigi Schmid decided that his emphasis is on MLS play. Sigi didn't even use Osvaldo Alonso, despite the fact that he's suspended for this MLS match. There are few times when you can say that Schmid punted a US Open Cup match - this was one of them.There are increasing calls in the fanbase to fire Sigi, and Garth, and basically everyone. If both of them are to keep their jobs it will be based on MLS play, not a trophy won four times in their seven MLS seasons. Winning regular season games can though. That's why they gave up the chance to make the CCL, get Allocation Money and win a 6th major trophy in their eighth year.
2) TBT: Much like Sporting KC, Seattle has been having a rough year so far. How have the Sounder faithful reacted to such an uncharacteristic down year? Who has been getting the blame?
The Sounders fanbase already had a large segment of #SigiOut to it. Some of that goes back to 2009 when Brian Schmetzer was passed over for the MLS gig. It built up in 2011 when the Sounders had the second best record in the league (63 pts, +19) and lost their opening leg to Real Salt Lake. It expanded in 2013 as injuries forced Schmid into a set of bad choices that lead to Shalrie Joseph as a starting forward in a must-win playoff game. And in 2015 when the summer collapse saw the team go 1-9-0 behind it's B-team it continued to grow.But it isn't just a Sigi Out crowd now. Garth Lagerwey took charge in January of 2015. With a couple transfer windows under his built the roster looks weaker than ever, so the calls to fire someone expand to the GM as well.Frankly, there's a lot of anger and not a lot of logic, because this is sports. In the 40-ish years of Sounders history they've only missed the playoffs five times. Only twice were they not the last team to fail to qualify. This year is uncharted ground in the MLS era.
3) TBT: Do you see this team finishing the season strong and sneaking into the playoffs? Or are the problems too much to get passed this season?
No. The additions to the roster are coming too late for the push to result in a playoff run. They will not be a bad team with the likes of Lodeiro and Fernandez joining the squad, but Summer signings are notoriously slow adapters to the MLS game. Even if they also get the TAM player they are targeting (we have no idea who) the talent may still not be enough to make up the ground lost on at least two of Vancouver, Portland, San Jose and Sporting.
They ask us...
1) Sounder at Heart: Sporting, like the Sounders, are depending on a single scorer. Can Dom Dwyer do it mostly on his own?
Cody Bradley: The standings would indicate no, Dom Dwyer cannot do it all on his own. Sporting KC recently went through a stretch where they looked much better, but are still sitting below the red line at the moment. Dom has eight goals on the season and he's followed up by Feilhaber with five. Most people would quickly tell you the biggest thing missing from the team is a threat on the wing. Although they were worth three points a piece, Brad Davis has only chipped on in two goals. Graham Zusi has been a let down thus far with just one goal. This team creates chances and they get off plenty of shots, but another real goal scorer is missing from the XI.
It's amazing he still struggles with it, but if Dom could figure out how to stay onside then he may actually be able to score enough on his own. The dude LIVES in an offside position. But he will still get his goals, and he will still go on a hot streak at some point. He's probably capable of carrying a full load but for this team to actually accomplish it's goals of winning silverware, they will need to add another weapon to the arsenal.
2) SaH: Does depending on a high line/offside trap worry you against Jordan Morris?
CB: Yes. But I'm also pretty worried about every match these days. Jordan was still just a baby when these teams played the first match of the season, now he's got some minutes under his belt as well as seven goals. Moreover, the SKC game-plan is the type of match that Morris thrives on. But KC has faced some pacey attacking players who love to work on the counter, and they've been able to survive without too much damage. They've only allowed a team to score more than three goals in an MLS match one time this season. But the bottom line is that SKC have shown they can beat or lose to anyone on any given day. I am definitely worried about what Morris could do to the back line.
3) SaH: Is there a non-Morris Sounder that KC should try to acquire while the transfer window is open?
CB: I really like the 20 year old Oalex Anderson. I believe he is still with Seattle Sounders 2, but he is fast and he can put the ball in the back of the net. Plus he is still really young and would have time to learn the Vermes' system. He may not be fully MLS ready yet, but SKC have a couple of guys who have been playing on the wing that don't always appear to be MLS ready either. I would be really happy if KC would acquire a player like him for a final push this season, but the simple fact is that SOMETHING must be done. Reinforcements are necessary.