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

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First place in the West takes on Fourth place, with just three points (and a larger goal differential) separating the two.

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MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Sporting KC Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC @ Seattle Sounders (#SEAvSKC)

Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 3:00 PM CT

Fox Sporting KC | fuboTV (free trial) | MLS Live

Saturday marks the second match-up between Sporting Kansas City and the Seattle Sounders in 2017. It comes at a very critical time for both clubs. Sporting KC currently sit at first place in the Western Conference with 37 points while Seattle sit all the way back in fourth place with 34 points. Just three points separate first from fifth and just six points separate first from seventh, which would leave the team below the red line and out of the playoffs.

What that means it that Sporting could theoretically fall from first to fifth with a loss Saturday. It is unlikely because wins then goal differential is the tie breaker and SKC sit on a +11 differential to Portland’s +3 (they are in fifth) If Seattle wins though, they will at least pass Sporting. All this is to say, Sporting’s hold on a playoff spot in the top two (let alone a spot at all) is in a precarious position.

The history between these two teams is one that is all over the map. Before 2015 Sporting KC had just a single win against the Sounders in the first nine meetings (1-7-1). Since 2015 it’s a whole different tale. SKC have gone undefeated in their last six meetings (4-0-2) including back-to-back 3-0 victories in regular season play. The one exception of course is the playoff loss at Century Link Field that ultimately was decided by a goal from an offside position.

Looking at recent form is often a good way to see what may be coming next. Seattle come into this came undefeated in their last seven games (4-0-3) and having taken 24 points over their last 12 games. 2.0 points per game. For comparison KC have nine games without a loss (3-0-6) but have just 18 points in their last 12 games. All those dropped points could really come back and hurt SKC, especially since six of those nine unbeaten games were at home.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT: Cameron Porter (broken fibula and ligament damage in right ankle)

QUESTIONABLE: None

Sounders

OUT: Osvaldo Alonso (left MCL sprain)

QUESTIONABLE: None

Suspensions

Sporting KC - None

Sounders - None

Recent Form

Sporting KC - Last Five: D/D/D/W/D (6 Points)

Sounders - Last Five: W/W/W/D/W (13 Points)

Leading Scorers

  • Sporting KC: Gerso Fernandes (6), Dom Dwyer, Benny Feilhaber (5), Latif Blessing (3), Daniel Salloi, Ike Opara (2)
  • Sounders: Clint Dempsey (9), Will Bruin (8), Cristian Roldan (5)

Starting XI Predictions

Three games in seven days. One of those games lasted 120 minutes and went to penalty kicks. Then Sporting KC had to fly halfway across the country to play on turf against a team who has only lost once at home (which is one more time than SKC have lost at home).

It’s really hard to imagine Peter Vermes ever putting out a lineup that is anything less than the best 11 players on his team, but some exceptions need to be made on Saturday.

First, Ike Opara needs to rest. He missed just a single game after the severe concussion he suffered against FC Dallas in the US Open Cup Quarterfinals. He has been injury prone in the past (though mostly healthy lately) but I wouldn’t risk him on turf. Plus, Erik Palmer-Brown is probably the best center back not starting in MLS.

Ilie Sanchez never rests, nor do I expect that to start Saturday. However either Benny Feilhaber or Roger Espinoza need to get some rest. Jimmy Medranda is my first choice to fill in for either of them. I honestly wouldn’t even mind seeing someone like Soni Mustivar start in Espinoza’s spot with Medranda next to him, though Soni appears to be perpetually in the doghouse since the Montreal game.

The last question is who starts at the three forward spots? Diego Rubio is still recovering from an ACL tear but he did only put in 19 minutes last Sunday against Atlanta. Latif Blessing seems to have a never ending gas tank, so why not keep him on the field. The last question is Gerso or Salloi? Gerso has been bad lately. Really bad. Though he did score a hat trick against Seattle last time out (though he’s only scored once since then in league play).

Rest of the 18: Dykstra, Mustivar, Espinoza, Salloi, Lobato, Abdul-Salaam, Opara

[At press time, the fan vote has Salloi over Gerso and Abdul-Salaam over Zusi but the rest is shockingly similar. Let’s wait to see how wrong we all are.]

As for picking a winner (or a result even) it feels like a perfect storm of things to lead SKC to break their streak. So many minutes so close together. A long flight on short rest. And the high of winning a huge game is just what a team needs to suddenly have a drop in form.

Not to mention Seattle has been really good lately and Sporting are historically not great in the state of Washington or against the Sounders, despite the last couple of years. If Sporting can steal another draw most fans would probably take that road point. At some point they need to win games, but at some point they will lose again. It pains me to say it’ll probably happen this weekend. Then again, you never know. I seem to recall Sporting sticking out a lineup full of backups that stole a point against Seattle once in recent history (September 2015).

Prediction: 2-0 Seattle Win

In researching this article I caught myself reading comments from Sounder fans. Insufferable. I hope I’m wrong.

Who do you think will start? Who do you think should start? And what is your prediction for an outcome? Let us know in the comments.