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

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Could this game actually be the battle for the West? Just nine games left to go for both clubs.

MLS: Seattle Sounders at Sporting KC Peter G. Aiken

Sporting KC @ Seattle Sounders (#SEAvSKC)

Saturday, September 2nd, 2018 at 3:00 PM CT

How to Watch: Fox Sporting KC | ESPN+ | 810 WHB

Saturday is a game with a lot of streaks on the line. Sporting Kansas City are on a shutout streak that is up to 376 minutes, a club record. They’ve also posted four straight games that were shutout victories. No team has ever won five straight by shutout.

The Seattle Sounders are on a streak of their own. They have won seven straight games. Since the shootout era ended (2000) no team has ever won eight straight.

It’s possible both things end on Saturday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle and if Sporting could do that and steal a point, most people would be happy. Seattle are the hottest team in the league and have climbed out of a massive hole to currently sit above the red line.

The Sounders are currently in sixth place with 38 points (11-9-5) with games in hand on everyone in the West except Sporting and Portland. SKC sit in second place and just a single point behind first place FC Dallas. Sporting have 45 points and a 13-6-6 record, including a 5-4-3 road record. That is tied with Seattle for the third best road record in the league.

About the only stat that isn’t in Seattle’s favor for this upcoming game is Seattle’s home form. They have just the 16th best home record which makes them look beatable. However, Seattle have won four straight at home which includes wins over the LA Galaxy, FC Dallas and New York City FC.

The other statistic that is in Sporting’s favor is recent meetings between these clubs. Since 2015 Sporting KC have gone 4-1-3 against the Sounders in the regular season, including five shutout wins. Before that, SKC were an abysmal 1-7-1 against Seattle. Obviously the Sounders won MLS Cup in 2016 and went back in 2017, so despite the team being strong, Sporting overcame that. One big part of that is Tim Melia’s success over Seattle (4-1-2 in the regular season). That includes five shutouts and a stunning 0.43 goals against average.

Seattle’s Roster Changes

These teams met back in April so you can go back and look at their offseason moves here. The biggest change since then is that Clint Dempsey retired this week. Biggest not in value to the team, but in name recognition. Dempsey hadn’t actually been getting on the field a ton in 2018. In addition the Sounders also waived midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikrem in the summer too.

Seattle, as they do in the summer, added some key players that may have helped the run they are on. First they added striker Raul Ruidiaz from Morelia. Ruidiaz is a member of the Peruvian National Team and got further recognition in the FIFA World Cup.

The team also added defender Brad Smith from Bournemouth who has been getting on the field quite a bit lately. He is a left back and his contributions have been welcome during this stretch.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT: Jimmy Medranda (knee surgery - out for season), Brad Evans (calf), Cristian Lobato (quad), Kharlton Belmar (knee)

QUESTIONABLE: Khiry Shelton (knee surgery)

Seattle

OUT: Jordan Morris (torn ACL)

QUESTIONABLE: Handwalla Bwana (right midfoot sprain), Victor Rodriguez (right hamstring strain)

Suspensions

Sporting KC - None (Opara suspended next yellow — one more game until the good behavior incentive meaning it’ll take two more yellows to earn a suspension)

Seattle - None (Jordy Delem suspended next yellow)

Statistical Leaders

Sporting KC

Goals: Johnny Russell (8), Daniel Salloi, Diego Rubio (7), Felipe Gutierrez (5), Ilie Sanchez (4), Gerso (3)

Assists: Roger Espinoza (9), Johnny Russell (8), Daniel Salloi (7), Diego Rubio (5), Graham Zusi (4), Ilie Sanchez (3), Khiry Shelton, Gerso, Seth Sinovic, Yohan Croizet, Matt Besler (2)

Seattle

Goals: Nicolás Lodeiro, Will Bruin (6), Cristian Roldan, Harry Shipp, Chad Marshall (3)

Assists: Lodeiro (9), Bruin, Roldan (5), Shipp (3)

Recent Performances

Sporting KC - L/W/W/W/W (12 points)

Seattle - W/W/W/W/W (15 points)

Starting XI Predictions

I think it’s clear Diego Rubio should be the starting CF. With him, Salloi and Russell all leaving for National Team duty after Saturday, Vermes should get everything out of them he can. There is an argument that Gerso should start with his hat trick against Seattle last year, but that happened in KC. Gerso is still better off the bench in my opinion, particularly with his speed to tear through tired defenses.

I can’t imagine the midfield is anything but the regular three. Croizet is a better sub than a starter and if Felipe is inconsistent again Yohan can come on and bulldoze those tired midfielders and defenders.

And the backline has been so consistent, you just can’t break that up. In short, the same lineup as last week against Minnesota except Salloi in for Gerso. Even if they started slow, Seattle won’t sit back like Minnesota did and chances will be there to be taken advantage of.

Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Lindsey, Busio, Fontas, Nemeth, Gerso, Croizet

[The fan vote is exactly the same as my lineup, but there are some interesting notes. Rubio is running away with the CF vote (90.5%) and Nemeth has more votes as a winger (18.9%) than a CF (4.1%). It is satisfying being right about Rubio. Here are the other players who aren’t starters who got the most votes: Gerso (40.5%), Lindsey (13.5%) and Croizet (9.5%). That’s all that’s worth mentioning. When the team wins the votes tend to get pretty lopsided.]

I’m still not convinced that this team isn’t just a bit lucky. Let’s recap the current streak:

  • Win #1: Sporting KC beat a Houston Dynamo team that was down a man very early in the match and they barely found a goal.
  • Win #2: Then SKC went on the road and played LAFC who were playing their third game in eight days, including a 120+ US Open Cup game just days before.
  • Win #3: Sporting returned home to put a beatdown on a tired Timbers team who also played three games in eight days.
  • Win #4: Minnesota United are terrible on the road. Enough said.

I’d settle for a draw and there is a history between these teams when it comes to not scoring. The vast majority of the games between these clubs has involved one goal or less. Kansas City and Peter Vermes would be happy with a draw. The question is if anyone scores in the draw. The ball bounces weird on that turf so it seems like something will bounce in, but maybe that just means the game will be horribly disjointed.

I’ll be flying to Seattle on Friday to enjoy the game Saturday. I’ve travelled to three games in the last two years for SKC. Two wins in LA (LAG & LAFC) and a loss in Colorado. They have won the tougher games and lost the easy one. This team gets up for games against good teams. That said, I’ve never seen a draw. I’m due. All streaks end on Saturday.

Prediction: 1-1 Draw

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.