When: Sunday, July 25, 2021 at 8:00 PM CT (Kickoff 8:08)
Where: Lumen Field
How to Watch/Stream: Bally Sports KC (regionally) | Bally Sports Midwest (regionally) |
ESPN+ (out of market or over VPN locally)
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish)
The Battle for the West will likely go through Seattle for the 2021 MLS season. The Seattle Sounders have been the best team in Major League Soccer this season. Sporting Kansas City enter Sunday’s pivotal matchup with a game in hand and just five points behind first place Seattle. But a game in hand isn’t worth anything unless you use the game to make up ground.
Both teams enter the late Sunday match with short rest after having played midweek. SKC dropped points at home to the San Jose Earthquakes in a wild game with some horrible officiating. The Sounders on the other hand hit the road and got all three points against Austin FC with five teenagers in their depleted starting lineup.
This will mark the first meeting between these clubs since the 2019 season, when, despite Sporting having a horrific season, they beat the Sounders twice. Seattle hasn’t bested Sporting since a 3-1 beating in 2018 in the Pacific Northwest. I was in the stands that day. I promise not to bring my cursed self to Seattle this weekend.
Seattle’s Recent Form
Until recently, Seattle was the only team left in MLS to not have a loss. Minnesota United brought that streak to an end, but Seattle is still the best team in MLS (by two points over the New England Revolution). Through 15 games they’ve just suffered one defeat but they only have only one more win than Sporting. That gap can be closed Sunday (in wins, not points).
- June 26th vs. Vancouver Whitecaps - 2-2 Draw
- July 4th @ Colorado Rapids - 1-1 Draw
- July 7th vs. Houston Dynamo - 2-0 Win
- July 18th @ Minnesota United - 0-1 Loss
- July 22nd @ Austin FC - 1-0 Win
Seattle are just 2-1-2 in their last five, their worst five game stretch of the season. They played a reserve heavy side against Austin but managed to win. If you missed it, here is Raul Ruidiaz’s stunning game winner from Thursday. World class stuff. A definite MLS Goal of the Year candidate.
Here are the angles to watch the wonder goal from Ruidiaz. Whoa. What a goal! pic.twitter.com/4QtJFIDx97— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) July 23, 2021
What’s changed for Seattle since 2020?
The roster turnover for the Sounders is higher than normal, I’d say. They are in a bit of a transition yet still finding a way to be more than competitive, as always.
IN: Their biggest addition is probably the permanent transfer of Joao Paulo. The holding midfielder was on loan previously with the club but now joined on a permanent deal from Botafogo (Brazil). He leads the team in assists. The team also signed free agent Kelyn Rowe, formerly of Sporting KC and a Washington native.
Another low-key, but somewhat big signing, is the return of striker Freddy Montero to the Pacific Northwest. He slides over from the Vancouver Whitecaps to be reunited with Seattle. The Sounders also signed Abdoulaye Cissoko from their USL affiliate the Tacoma Defiance, added Homegrown Reed Baker-Whiting and a few other roleplayers like GK Spencer Richey.
OUT: Some big names departed the Sounders this offseason. Declining center back Roman Torres was out of contract. The team let high priced midfielder Gustav Svensson walk. They also declined contract options of MLS veterans Miguel Ibarra, Joevin Jones and declined the contract option on Kelvin Leerdam.
The team also loaned out GK Trey Muse to the San Diego Loyal (USL) and midfielder Shandon Hopeau to San Antonio FC (USL).
OUT - Alan Pulido (Int. Duty - Mexico), Gianluca Busio (Int. Duty - USA), Felipe Hernandez (personal reasons), Two (maybe one?!) Unknown COVID positive (Ilie?)
QUESTIONABLE - Roberto Puncec (undisclosed)
*This will be updated when the official injury report is available. The team will not disclose who is in COVID protocols but Ilie Sanchez was missing from the lineup on Wednesday. The only other missing players are all reserves who’ve never made an MLS appearance for SKC, so it’s tougher to tell.
OUT - Nico Lodeiro (knee surgery), Jordy Delem (ACL tear), Jordan Morris (ACL Tear), Will Bruin (right knee surgery), Stefan Frei (left knee sprain/blood clot), Shane O’Neill (left hip flexor strain), Nouhou (left adductor strain), Cristian Roldan (int. duty - USA), Alex Roldan (int. duty - El Salvador)
QUESTIONABLE - Unknown
GOALS: Daniel Salloi (8), Alan Pulido (6), Gadi Kinda (3), Gianluca Busio, Jaylin Lindsey (2), Ilie Sanchez, Felipe Hernandez, Johnny Russell, Khiry Shelton (1)
ASSISTS: Khiry Shelton, Daniel Salloi, Johnny Russell, Gianluca Busio (3), Felipe Hernandez (2), Alan Pulido, Andreu Fontas, Luis Martins, Gadi Kinda, Jaylin Lindsey (1)
GOALS: Raul Ruidiaz (11), Brad Smith (3), Freddy Montero, Christian Roldan (2), six with one (1)
ASSISTS: Joao Paulo (5), Montero, Alex Roldan, Smith (3), Will Bruin (2), five with one
Starting XI Predictions
That will have it’s own story, as always. Look out for it soon.
Both teams enter this game on short rest and pretty banged up (or at least missing key players). I’m not sure this matchup has much bearing on who the better team is, but it’ll surely be important in what is shaping up to be a tight race to win the Western Conference and potentially the Supporter’s Shield.
Right now, Seattle is just so stout defensively they are tough to beat. They’ve allowed a league’s best nine goals, three ahead of the Columbus Crew and seven ahead of Sporting KC. On top of that, Seattle are quite good at scoring, though slightly worst than Kansas City. They’ve scored one fewer goal than KC who are now only second best in the league after the Revolution dropped five on Inter Miami mid-week.
Because of that, and homefield advantage, and SKC being without arguable their most important piece in Alan Pulido (not to mention several key midfielders), I think Seattle pulls this out. But don’t count out KC just yet. Both teams rested players in preparation for this game because they could see how important it would be.
(Side note: I’ve been predicting draws or losses when I think SKC can win out of some weird, superstitious, belief. But I’m not superstitious. I know what I write doesn’t impact them. Go win!)
1-0 Seattle Sounders Win
What do you think? Predictions in the comments are welcome. Let’s chat about it.
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