Sporting Kansas City has one of their biggest tests of the year on Sunday as second place Seattle Sounders FC come to Children’s Mercy Park. It doesn’t come at a great time, either, as SKC have been hit HARD with injuries and suspensions.
To get a feel for what to expect, I spoke with Mark Kastner of Sounder at Heart to get some info about the Sounders so far in 2019.
1. Chad Marshall finally said his goodbye to MLS on Wednesday. What does his retirement mean for Seattle’s backline, and is there a chance we see new DP CB Xavier Arreaga on the field on Sunday?
In a weird way, the Sounders have been prepared for life without Marshall for a few weeks now. Marshall had been out for a few weeks with injury, and during his time out Roman Torres and Kim Kee-hee have formed a good partnership. I doubt that Arreaga will start, but he could be in the 18 on Sunday. He trained with the team this week.
2. Seattle bucked their recent trend of starting slow this year and have looked like one of the best sides in MLS so far in 2019. What’s the biggest reason for their hot start?
For the most part, until the last couple of weeks, it’s been the health of the squad. Much like SKC this year, Seattle was riddled with injuries and a CCL hangover last year. They’ve had to deal with their fair share of injuries this year, but it’s not been all at once. The depth of this squad is very, very good as well. Harry Shipp, Nouhou, and Will Bruin are bonafide starters for 75% of the teams in this league.
3. Who is the most important player on Seattle for Sporting KC to shut down on Sunday in order for SKC to earn the full three points?
Seattle obviously has a lot of talent that SKC needs to be wary of on Sunday. The easy answer here is either Raul Ruidiaz or Nicolas Lodeiro, but I’m actually going to throw a wildcard at you: Roman Torres. I mentioned Torres above, and how he’s filled in for Chad Marshall surprisingly well, but he’s still a liability on the field and with his injury record. His first start of the year came against LAFC in LA, and he was miserable. He’s obviously hit a run of form since then, but there’s always a possibility he regresses to the mean. Let me put it this way... There’s a reason why Seattle felt the need to go out and sign a 24-year-old DP centerback...