Sporting KC v Seattle Sounders (#SKCvSEA)
Sunday, April 15, 2018 at 3:00 PM CT
As new Sporting Kansas City player Brad Evans would say, Seattle and Kansas City aren’t rivals. That still doesn’t stop both teams, or at least both team’s fans, from not liking each other. I know a lot of people from Washington and specifically Seattle. They are good people. The people who comment on the Sounders on the internet are probably a different group (though most teams most vocal fans online — outside of this awesome community — are often insufferable).
In the classical sense, these teams probably aren’t rivals. Seattle has a series of late, KC heartbreaking, goals that often steal points away. So this game might hold more meaning for the Kansas City side of the equation than it does for the Seattle side.
The two clubs meet from opposite sides of the table. Sporting KC are sitting in first place in the Western Conference (13 points) and are second in the Supporter’s Shield race. The Sounders are, by record at least, the worst team in the league. They’ve only played three games but they’ve lost them all and have yet to score a goal. That doesn’t mean Sporting are taking them lightly. After all, Seattle have started slow for three straight season and over the last two they won a MLS Cup and made it two another one.
If recent trends carry forward, things look good for Sporting. They are 4-1-2 against Seattle in the regular season since 2015. Five of those seven games left Seattle with zero goals. One of them was the final straw in the career for Sigi Schmid in the Pacific Northwest. I doubt the same would happen to Brian Schmetzer if Seattle lost ugly, but some fans are calling for his head. With all of the injuries and how slow they’ve started over recent years, it seems premature. MLS is a very long season.
One reason many fans in Seattle are unhappy is because of the offseason. OUT are Oniel Fisher, Brad Evans, Joevin Jones and Aaron Kovan (loaned to LAFC) and the IN column hasn’t done much. A few SuperDraft picks and Homegrown players with their bigger signings being Kim Kee-hee (injured) and Magnus Wolff Eikrem. Not exactly names to light the fan base on fire with excitement.
Bigger issues in Seattle likely revolve around injuries, specifically Homegrown Jordan Morris missing the entire season after tearing his ACL. The Sounders are known to try and make a splash in the summer but thankfully for KC fans, they won’t have to deal with that this weekend.
QUESTIONABLE: Felipe Gutierrez (hip injury)
OUT: Jordan Morris (torn ACL), Victor Rodriguez (right knee sprain), Kim Kee-Hee (right calf strain)
QUESTIONABLE: Osvaldo Alonso (quad injury), Henry Wingo (left thumb surgery), Harry Shipp (undisclosed injury)
Sporting KC - None
Sounders - Clint Dempsey (additional game for the red card)
Goals: Felipe Gutierrez (5), Johnny Russell (2), Diego Rubio, Daniel Salloi, Graham Zusi, Ilie Sanchez, Jimmy Medranda (1)
Assists: Daniel Salloi, Roger Espinoza (3), Johnny Russell, Khiry Shelton (2), Gerso (1)
Starting XI Predictions
Before we get to SKC’s lineup, I want to take a slight detour to Seattle being without Clint Dempsey. He’s suspended for going to the man-zone with his right hand in the FC Dallas game nearly a month ago. He already got a red that game, served his one game suspension, then MLS added on another game this week (they had a few byes). Seattle fans on the internet (the world’s best people) are irate and are using this super slo-mo gif to say he’s pushing the defenders hand away.
After scrubbing through this video angle of Dempsey's red card, I'm not convinced he did anything more than make contact with the defender's arm. He still needs to be smarter. pic.twitter.com/UiQcz0NJyi— LikkitP™, Our Most Moderately Priced FWD (@LikkitP) March 19, 2018
However, Andrew Wiebe has a much better angle at speed. The suspension seems deserved.
If you aren't watching @AleMorenoESPN's @MLS awards every week on @ESPNFC, you're missing out. It's informative and funny ... and he's got the best angle I've seen yet on the Dempsey red card. You can't tell me that wasn't excessive force. https://t.co/hfZDmKtCnX pic.twitter.com/qQ7oT7Z6kl— Andrew Wiebe (@andrew_wiebe) March 20, 2018
On to the good guys. Clearly things are working. Five straight games without a loss. Two straight shut outs (plus the last 80+ minutes against Colorado were a shut out technically too). I highly doubt Vermes changes much of anything until the midweek games start in early May.
The only real question is will a healthy Felipe Gutierrez return to the lineup? Our own Thad Bell reported he’s still day-to-day. I suspect Vermes won’t want to risk it but that we could potentially see him in the 18 in case a late surge is needed.
Gutierrez still day-to-day. Trained on side some. Vermes and staff have not ruled him out but want to be cautious. #sportingkc— Thad (@TheBackpost) April 13, 2018
The only change I’m making from my predictions last week is that Medranda will start. I keep picking Seth Sinovic and he keeps not starting. I still believe Jimmy’s ultimate position may be in the midfield — and that was supported to some extent when the team needed a midfield sub for Yohan Croizet and pushed Medranda forward and brought Sinovic on to play LB.
Speaking of Croizet, if there is no Felipe, he’ll have to start again. He didn’t look terrible in his first midfield start, but he definitely could have been better. Hopefully more time to practice in that role and more time with his teammates will lead to higher chemistry and he’ll finally have that breakthrough game.
Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Rubio, Gerso, Sinovic, Amor, Lindsey, Gutierrez
With no Swope Park Rangers game on Saturday (due to the USL postponing it) the full team will be available. I’d like to see Kharlton Belmar get into the 18 and get some minutes and this would be the time to do it.
[The fan vote is in and it’s really note close. Gutierrez is still getting tons of votes despite his injury — and he is obviously the preferred choice if healthy. Every other category is a runaway. Sinovic is the closest to being voted to start with only 21.4% of the vote, compared to 77.6% for Medranda (I’m leaving out Croizet since I’m chalking his votes up to Felipe’s health). The next closest, Gerso with a mere 11.2% of the vote. It’s like we all know Vermes hates change.]
Fans would be silly to ignore the Sounders and look at it as an easy win. Sporting do play well at home and Seattle have struggled in Children’s Mercy Park (two straight 3-0 defeats). But when you look at the projected lineup we got from Sounders at Heart, it’s not like they don’t have good players. They have a good goalkeeper (Frei), strong — if not a little old — central defenders (Marshall and Torres), talent in the midfield (Roldan, Svensson) and attackers who can make goals happen (Lodeiro and Bruin).
Still though, I’ll go with recent trends and say Sporting find a way to keep it goes and keep Seattle held down. Let’s be silly and say Croizet or Shelton get a hat-trick to keep the streak of 3-0 home wins against the Sounders going.