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

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After the Johnny Russell hattrick Seattle will be looking for revenge.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Sporting Kansas City Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC @ Seattle Sounders (#SEAvSKC)

When: Sunday, August 4, 2019 at 9:00 PM CT

Where: CenturyLink Field

How to Watch/Stream: Fox Sports 1 | Fox Sports Go | No ESPN+ this week
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM

Sporting Kansas City are in a bad way. They’ve lost two straight and have dipped to 10th place in the Western Conference and are now six points out of the final playoff spot (though it seems like it should be more). There are just 12 games left in the season and August will be a busy month where the team will play six times. The next two games are critical as they are the only two where the team gets full rest heading into the game (then they’ll have two straight double game weeks).

Sporting KC have one more road match, this trip to Washington, before they get to return to Children’s Mercy Park. The Sounders welcome them to town having struggled against Sporting as of late (2-5-3 in their last 10 regular season meetings). That said, those two wins are both at home and they are the last two home meetings between these clubs.

These teams last met at the end of May when Sporting KC found a way to break a huge winless run that stretched from March 31st through the win on May 26th. At the time, it seemed like SKC may be righting the ship but they went 0-1-2 in the subsequent four games and a meager 3-5-2 overall since then. In the eyes of many onlookers, Sporting KC are out of time, but technically it’s so tight they are still alive.

Interesting Stats

  • Seattle have scored in 100% of their home games this season.
  • SKC have scored in 82% of their away matches in 2019.
  • Seattle have only lost once at home in 2019 (8-1-2) and it came two weeks ago against the surging Portland Timbers.

What’s changed for Seattle since the first meeting?

Seattle has literally made just one move since these teams met a little over two months ago. That move was to sign Homegrown forward Justin Dhillon. Outside of that, the team extended the loan of fullback Brad Smith through the end of 2019. He is second on the team in assists, so that subtle move is pretty valuable.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT - Rodney Wallace (hip injury), Cameron Duke (hamstring injury)

QUESTIONABLE - Krisztian Nemeth (abdominal), Botond Barath (back)

*This story was updated on Sunday with the official injury report. Nemeth and Barath were added on 8/2/19 at approximately 7PM CT.

Seattle

OUT - Will Bruin (torn ACL), Gustav Svensson (hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE - Raul Ruidiaz (concussion), Brad Smith (undisclosed injury), Victor Rodriguez (left hamstring strain)

Suspensions

Sporting KC - Roger Espinoza [red card] (Benny Feilhaber suspended next yellow card)

Seattle - Roman Torres [substance abuse violation] (Kelvin Leerdam and Kim Kee-hee suspended next yellow card)

Stats

Sporting KC

GOALS - Felipe Gutierrez (8), Krisztian Nemeth, Johnny Russell (7), Gianluca Busio, Yohan Croizet (3), Ilie Sanchez (2), Gerso (1)

ASSISTS - Johnny Russell (5), Gerso Fernandes, Ilie Sanchez (4), Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi, Yohan Croizet, Kelyn Rowe, Felipe Gutierrez, Krisztian Nemeth, Benny Feilhaber (2), Nicolas Hasler (1)

Seattle

GOALS - Raul Ruidiaz (8), Kelvin Leerdam, Jordan Morris (5), Nicolas Lodeiro (4), Cristian Roldan, Harry Shipp (3), Victor Rodriguez, Will Bruin (2), Handwalla Bwana (1)

ASSISTS - Lodeiro (9), Brad Smith (5), Rodriguez (3), Shipp, Morris, Roldan, Leerdam (2), five with one

Starting XI Predictions

Is it time to call it a season and play the kids? The case can definitely be made, but I suspect that Sporting KC won’t do that. They are just finally mostly healthy and there is still a possibility if they get hot that they can land in the playoffs and make a run. It feels increasingly unlikely, but I don’t think Peter Vermes will give up with 12 games still left to be played.

There are a few issues for the lineup this week. First, new signing Luis Martins won’t be available because the team hasn’t found an international roster spot so he can’t officially join the team.

The next issue is “who replaced the suspended Roger Espinoza?” Since he only started a single game before picking up a red card it shouldn’t be hard to decide who plays alongside the returning Felipe Gutierrez. I suspect Gedion Zelalem will slide back into the starting role, especially after Benny Feilhaber’s shenanigans in the last game.

The next questions are around if Graham Zusi and Gianluca Busio will be available after travelling to Orlando and putting in 45 minutes each during the All-Star Game and Homegrown game respectively. Busio probably isn’t a starter but he should definitely be available off the bench (if he makes the 18, which is no lock based on recent weeks).

As for Zusi, he performed well in his friendly but Nico Hasler started against Seattle last time out and played his best single game of the season (at least offensively). I’d start Nico. It could be his last start if he is the roster casualty to make room for new signing Luis Martins (especially with Jaylin Lindsey close to a return).

Two more questions. Who starts at center forward? Nemeth has struggled to find the back of the net for a very long time in 2019. His last goal was May 18th against the Vancouver Whitecaps where he ultimately got red carded and probably cost his team a win. His recent replacement has been Yohan Croizet who has scored all three of his 2019 goals since that date in Nemeth’s spot. Additionally, he started against Seattle last time out and helped set up a Johnny Russell hat trick.

Speaking of Russell. He’s ice cold since returning from injury. He looked ineffective against FC Dallas and New York City FC. The main option to replace him is Daniel Salloi who has been getting closer to finding a goal, but he is still without one for all of 2019. One sneaky option I’d be open to is Gerso sliding to the right wing and Nemeth returning to play left wing. It won’t happen, but it’s an interesting thought experiment. Russell starts.

Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Fontas, Medranda, Salloi, Nemeth, Busio, Feilhaber

Even without Roger, it’s hard to pick a full 18 players. The recently returned Erik Hurtado doesn’t fit if Croizet plays CF. That said, resting him on that stupid turf in Seattle is probably a good move. Kelyn Rowe is out of the 18 too, so hopefully he’ll at least show up with the Swope Park Rangers. Maybe both of them will.

Fan Starting XI

The fan vote was interesting this week. Zendejas and Dick got 15.7% of the goalkeeper vote. That was just one indicator that people think this season is over. Despite the variety of votes you guys only put in Nemeth and Zusi over my choices. That said, the votes were much closer. Here are the people with the highest percentages of votes who aren’t starters: Hasler (43.4%), Medranda (36.8%), Feilhaber (32.9%), Busio (26.3%), Hurtado (25%) and Croizet [CF] (22.4%).

Prediction

Two straight losses in Seattle. Sporting have two straight losses overall. The Sounders are the 2nd seed and Sporting KC are the 10th seed. Until KC prove otherwise, it’s hard to pick them to win.

If they could finish one of the many chances they create early in games, it’d be a whole different story. They have yet to win when they concede first. And the simple fact is they aren’t putting away those chances. It’s not like they aren’t scoring at all (they are tied in 10th with Seattle, though the seven goals against Montreal skew the numbers). The real issue is their defense is 22nd in the league (Seattle are 6th). Because they can’t defend, they need to score and they have only averaged a goal a game for the last 11 games in all competitions.

1-0 Seattle Win

What do you think? Predictions in the comments for both lineups and results are welcome. We can’t quite tell who you voted for in our other poll, so let us know why we are wrong (or right).

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