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MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Seattle Sounders FC

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Sporting KC v Seattle Sounders: Preview, Predictions & How to Watch

Can Sporting Kansas City make it two road wins in a row (and three wins home/away in all competitions)?

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC @ Seattle Sounders

When: Saturday, June 24th, 2022 at 2:00 PM CT (Kickoff 2:08)

Where: Lumen Field

How to Watch/Stream: ABC | ESPN Deportes | Strange Days Brewing Co w/ The Blue Testament
How to Listen: La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish)

Sporting Kansas City are riding high. They are coming off back-to-back wins for the first time in 2022 (it’s yet to happen in league play). They defeated the previously undefeated-at-home Nashville SC in GEODIS Park last Sunday. Then they came back home and demolished a third division side, Union Omaha, 6-0 in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup (a USL League One team who had beaten two prior MLS teams).

Things are about to get a lot harder on Saturday. First, the team will be playing their third game in seven days (why do Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday and not Saturday-Wednesday-Sunday?). Second, they are playing the first MLS team to ever win the CONCACAF Champions League in the Seattle Sounders.

So far in the 2022 season, Seattle has struggled a bit, stretched thin by MLS roster rules combining the US Open, CCL and league play into a tight window. Despite that, they still sit in the seventh and final playoff spot in the Western Conference on 20 points through 14 games (at least one game in hand on the entire Western Conference). SKC on the other hand have handed off the wooden spoon and climbed out of the basement to sit 12th in the West on 16 points through 17 games. That’s just four points out of a playoff spot, but they’ve played at least one extra game over everyone out West.

Sporting have a ton of points to collect and this won’t be an easy one to do it in.

Seattle’s Recent Form

Seattle are entering their fourth of five straight home games and they’ve mostly taken advantage so far, only settling for a draw against LAFC, the team with the best record in the league.

What’s new for the Seattle in 2022?

This marks the first of two meetings between these teams in 2022. Let’s see how Seattle as evolved since last season.

IN: Undoubtedly the biggest move is the signing of Designated Player Albert Rusnak as a free agent away from Real Salt Lake. That leaves Seattle with three DPs (Rusnak, Lodeiro and Ruidiaz) like everyone else, but then they have guys like Joao Paulo, Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan, who often perform at or near DP quality.

Outside of that they just re-signed guys like Fredy Montero, Kelyn Rowe (formerly of SKC) and Stefan Cleveland and brought in some Homegrowns and draft picks.

OUT: The team declined the option of Nicolas Benezet (who they had acquired midseason from the Colorado Rapids). They also lost veteran defender Shane O’Neill via free agency to Toronto FC and traded fullback Brad Smith for quite the bounty to D.C. United.

While it’s technically not a subtraction from the roster, the team did lose Joao Paulo to season ending knee surgery, which is a huge blow.

Injuries/Availability*

Sporting KC

OUT - Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Gadi Kinda (SEI - knee surgery), Ozzie Cisneros (hamstring), Nikola Vujnovic (calf)

QUESTIONABLE - Kortne Ford (head injury)

*This has been updated based on the official injury report (my guess on Ford was accurate, so no SKC changes).

Seattle

OUT - João Paulo (right ACL tear), Yéimar Gomez Andrade (right hamstring strain), Raul Ruidiaz (left hamstring strain), Obed Vargas (lower back stress fracture)

QUESTIONABLE - None

*Ruidiaz and Vargas were added to the report for Seattle. Big blow to lose your striker, as all KC fans know.

Discipline Watch for Sporting KC

Suspended Next Yellow Card: Roger Espinoza, Kortne Ford, Johnny Russell

Stats

Sporting KC

Goals: Johnny Russell (5), Daniel Salloi (4), Remi Walter (2), Marinos Tzionis, Roger Espinoza, Felipe Hernandez, Graham Zusi (1)

Assists: Felipe Hernandez, Cam Duke (3), Daniel Salloi, Ben Sweat, Uri Rosell, Roger Espinoza, Remi Walter (1)

Seattle

Goals: Raul Ruidiaz (5), Nicolas Lodeiro, Jordan Morris (3), Cristian Roldan (2), six with one (1)

Assists: Lodeiro, C. Roldan, Alex Roldan (3), Morris, Kelyn Rowe (2), seven with one (1)

Starting XI Predictions

This will get it’s own story. Look for it closer to game day.

Predictions

Seattle did not play midweek and have not travelled in over a month. They are at home, where they know their awful turf field better than anyone. They are just 4-2-1 at home this year, but some of that is CCL nonsense causing congestion and rotation.

While Sporting have looked good this week, I still need some convincing. The goals against Nashville were both anomalies, and not easily repeatable. Felipe Hernandez’s goal from a mile out is somewhat lucky and Graham Zusi is good for one of those world class goals once a season. The six goals against Omaha are nothing to sneeze at and are the type of goals this team needs to be scoring, but you have to mark them down a little because of the level of competition. Then again, no one else did that to Omaha, so it shows Sporting are very capable offensively when things are clicking.

Some positives for SKC are they are historically very strong against the Sounders. They are 8-3-3 in their last 14 regular season meetings and have won four of the last five overall, including all three games in Seattle.

So it’s not out of the realm of possibility with this team finally getting as healthy as they are going to get (those DPs aren’t coming back) and with new signings on the way (not for this game though). But the congestion, travel and level of opponent all feels like it’s too much. Prove me wrong KC!

2-1 Seattle Win

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