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Sporting KC v Seattle Sounders: Preview, Predictions, Injuries & Starting XI

Sporting look to avenge their controversial 2016 MLS Cup Playoff loss to Seattle but this time they’ll be at home.

MLS: Sporting KC at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC v Seattle Sounders (#SKCvSEA)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 7:30 PM CT

Fox Sports KC+ | MLS Live | fuboTV

While Sporting Kansas City are technically tied for first place in the Western Conference, they currently are listed third having played more games than the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas who are ahead of them in the rankings. Despite the strong start to the season, Sporting KC have completed two straight games without a win (both on the road) and have only seven points in their last five games.

All that is still far superior to the visiting Seattle Sounders who come to Sporting Park Children’s Mercy Park slumping pretty hard. They have only won once in their last seven games (just twice on the season) and are sitting way back in the standings in ninth place.

Things would all seem to be aligned for SKC against their foes from the Pacific Northwest. They have gone undefeated in five straight regular season meetings (3-0-2). That leaves out one very important game. The 2016 Knockout Round playoff game in which Sporting were potentially robbed of their first playoff victory since MLS Cup 2013. Nelson Valdez headed home the game winner in the 88th minute from an offside position and the rest is history. Seattle went on to win MLS Cup 2016.

Since then, as noted, it’s been less than rosy. Ironically Seattle is suffering from what has previously been Sporting KC’s Achilles heal. They cannot put shots on goal. They lead in the league in shots (15 per game) but are just 18th in shots on target (four per game). Despite their inability to direct their shots on goal, they convert at a pretty good clip scoring 1.50 goals per game which is 11th best in the league.

This series specifically has lacked goals as of late. Outside of SKC’s 3-0 win last July, the clubs had only scored more than a goal once in the previous six. And as fans are all too familiar with, the Sounders know how to break Sporting KC’s hearts. They have scored eight times in the regular season after the 75th minute including a stunning five game winning goals from Seattle in stoppage time. Ugh.

Seattle’s Offseason

When a team win’s MLS Cup it likely means a lot of changes aren’t necessary and Seattle followed that approach this offseason. On the heels of adding Nicolas Lodeiro in the secondary transfer window of 2016 and going on an amazing run, they didn’t do much before the 2017 season started.

Valdez, aka the guy who was offside but eliminated SKC from the playoffs, is out. Along with Valdez Seattle lost several role players like Erik Friberg, Andreas Ivanschitz, Tyrone Mears, Zach Scott and promising youngster Oalex Anderson.

They were mostly replaced with players from the United Soccer League (USL) or Homegrown signings, as well as a couple trades for some MLS veterans. Those veterans are Harry Shipp and Will Bruin, who bring MLS experience at reasonable prices. The most important move is probably Clint Dempsey returning from his heart ailment, though the club has struggled to find their form with this lineup.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT: Diego Rubio (torn ACL)

QUESTIONABLE: Soony Saad (ankle sprain)

Sounders

OUT: Roman Torres (left hamstring strain), Henry Wingo (right ankle sprain), Nouhou Tolo (left shoulder dislocation)

QUESTIONABLE: Oniel Fisher (left hamstring strain), Chad Marshall (lower back pain), Aaron Kovar (groin surgery), Osvaldo Alonza (quad tightness), Jordan Morris (ankle)

Suspensions

Sporting KC - None (Seth Sinovic suspended next yellow card)

Sounders - Joevin Jones (red card)

International Duty

Sporting KC - Erik Palmer-Brown (USA U-20 World Cup)

Sounders - None

Recent Form

Sporting KC - Last Five: L/W/W/L/D (7 Points)

Sounders - Last Five: L/W/D/L/L (4 Points)

Leading Scorers

  • Sporting KC: Dom Dwyer (5), Benny Feilhaber, Gerso Fernandes, Latif Blessing (2)
  • Sounders: Clint Dempsey (4), Will Bruin, Nicolas Lodeira (3)

Starting XI Predictions

Starting XI

Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Abdul-Salaam, Mustivar, Medranda, Ellis, Salloi, Saad

Dear Sporting KC fans, have you met Latif Blessing? If you didn’t know the tiny Ghanaian’s name before the game in Orlando, you undoubtedly do now. All he did was score a brace in his first ever MLS start. He seems to have a knack for finding the goal, putting himself in just the right spot to clean up two loose balls in the box earn a draw for Sporting. This is likely why he was the leading scorer and MVP last year in the Ghana Premier League.

Because of that fantastic first start I would be hard pressed to put Blessing back on the bench. With Dom Dwyer returning, it seems like Blessing would be forced out to the wing. While that would likely be pretty taxing, there is no reason he can’t still drift into the box to keep scoring the way he did against Orlando.

For your part, in the lineup voting, as of press time, you have all voted evenly for Blessing and Medranda. In all honesty, Peter Vermes probably goes back to the lineup that has worked really well in the past, which is why I’ve elected to make no other changes to the Starting XI.

However this is the second game of a three game stretch in eight days, so someone has to rest at some point. The last time starters were resting, (and not suspended) Kevin Ellis and Igor Juliao played on the right side of the back line and it would be generous to say things didn’t go well. While Ellis appeared to be out of position at times (and likely just too short to get to a couple balls) it was really Juliao that failed at his role. I don’t imagine we see him again with Saad Abdul-Salaam available as right back depth.

As for predicting an outcome it seems the lineup would play a large role. If Peter Vermes sticks with his first choice lineup it would seem a beaten and bruised Sounders team would struggle on the road. They could be without starters Chad Marshall, Jordan Morris and Osvaldo Alonzo. Standout players on each line. If on the other hand Vermes rests players ahead of a road game this weekend, all bets are off.

One moderately important milestone is approaching this weekend for Sporting KC. If they get through Wednesday’s game without a loss, they will have completed an entire year without losing at home (presently 11-0-3). The last time they lost at home was May 27, 2016 against D.C. United in the dying seconds of the game. They won’t play at home again until June 3rd when the club will be looking to avenge their loss to Minnesota United.

Prediction: 3-0 Sporting KC Win

With Seattle so out of form it just feels like the club should repeat last years beating. That game actually cost Sigi Schmid his job and led to Brian Schmetzer being his replacement. That actually worked out well for Seattle. I don’t think Schmetzer should or would be fired with a similar loss but it’d be fun to see what happens.