Sporting Kansas City v. Seattle Sounders FC Pre-Match Analysis

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR), Oakland, CA

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. The loss in Mexico City hurt plenty. And we learnt a number of things from that result. The most glaring lesson learnt is that the MLS Salary Cap is strangling the crap out of our international competitiveness. All we can do is hunker down, and power through. That’s what we do. We link our arms, get to know our neighbour, and make the most towering and beautiful noise – all in the name of our boys in Green.

It’s that time again. Time to pull on our colours and head to the match, or local viewing parties at football-friendly pubs. First match of the league this season. Joy in our hearts, sure. Nerves, absolutely. So many faces from last season were waived, sold, or retired. Nearly all of our depth, our squad players, are a melange of young footballers that are greener than their Rave Green shirts. Is this going to be an easy season? No. Will it be an interesting season? Oh hellz yeah! Our lads will already be at One Sporting Way by now. So once again into the breach auld friends. Hearts full. Voices loud. Those of our number in Kansas on Sunday, be careful, be loud, be joyous, and get ye home safe after the match. ONE CLUB. ONE VOICE. UP THE SOUNDERS!!!

The Good News
In the off-season, we added a Hermann Trophy Award winner in young Mr. Jordan Morris, just on solid food and out of short pants after winning a NCAA College Cup with the Stanford Cardinal. It’s worthy of note that Morris recently earned his ninth cap for United States and is very much on Herr Klinsmann’s radar. New additions also include Joevin Jones who brings his experiences from the TT Pro League in Trinidad and Tobago, depth midfielder Michael Farfan who brings a fair amount of MLS experience to our dressing room, and MLS career pro Nathan Sturgis who once again finds himself in a Rave Green shirt. In our season series against Sporting KC, we have a 7-3-2 record (w-d-l). When we play in Kansas City, our record is 4-1-1. All statistical indicators point to a Sounders victory. We have a starting eleven that is experienced and proven to be competitive in MLS league and cup competitions. Sporting KC’s goalkeeper, Melia, is relatively inexperienced having played only 29 matches in MLS.

The Bad News
We lost a ton of depth in the off-season. A ton. Players out include Azira, Barrett, Correa, González, Perkins, Pineda, Thomás, Neagle, Pappa, Rose, and Martins. You could make a competitive team out of just the people we lost. This is going to hurt in the short term. If anyone vital should be injured, his replacement will likely be very young, and unproven. So, although our stats say we dominate against Sporting KC, we really aren’t as deep as the side we had last year. Roman Torres is still out with an ACL tear. Torres is our most experienced and decorated defender. Evans, though utterly stalwart, is in no way a centre-half as demonstrated by the dismantling we received in Mexico City last week. Sporting KC have five players listed as questionable, but I’ll wager that all of them will be available for selection on matchday. In terms of Sporting KC Personnel: Besler is a valued selection for United States, a rock-solid centre-half, so it will be difficult for whoever he is marking to get a decent attempt at goal. Graham Zusi is also a threat at the wing featuring plenty of experience and skill. Feilhaber’s exploits are legendary ever since he hit that full volley scorcher in the Gold Cup for the Yanks. Justin Mapp and Brad Davis are familiar names bringing a ton of experience to the table, with Davis’ accuracy on set pieces being particularly worthy of note. Watch out for Dom Dwyer, it’s not unlike him to have a go at a Sounders player, earning himself a booking in the process. Ike Opara was a former third overall pick in the SuperDraft for San Jose.

Worse News
Most of our vital players are over 30 years-old, and are thus more prone to injury. If either Dempsey, Valdez, or both are hurt – who will score the goals? 35 year-old Zach Scott is our only cover at the back. We have virtually no cover at goalkeeper as after Frei, the next two ‘keepers, Lyon and the new boy, Miller have 10 pro matches of experience between them. By between them, I mean only Miller has the 10 matches of experience and it was with a fifth-tier German team. Losing Oba and Barrett means almost no cover at striker. Only cover in midfield is either Farfan or Sturgis, depending on who Sigi wants to select as the fourth midfield player. I know, I know, there has been talk of playing a 4-3-3 formation, but I’ll believe it when I see it on the pitch. The meetings between these two clubs are generally salty affairs. In the 12 league meetings between the clubs, 36 players have been booked, and 4 sent off. Dearie me. Although the matchup on paper favours the Sounders, the quality in the Sporting KC team cannot be ignored. Expect a competitive match, and a fair amount of chippy play in the challenges.

Familiar Faces
Former California Golden Bears player Connor Hallisey is now a contracted midfield player for Sporting KC. Nathan Sturgis who hasn’t been with us since 2010, has signed back with us to provide needed depth at midfield and defence. So welcome back, Nate!

Recent Selections
Although selections haven’t been revealed for the match (Typical), these are the selections for each club for the previous match:

Sporting KC: Melia, Myers, Nuno Andre Coelho, Besler, Dia, Quintilla, Nagamura, Espinoza, Salloi, Dwyer, Hallisey.

Subs: Abdul-Salaam, Ellis, Olum, Peterson, Little

Seattle: Frei, Mears, Evans, Marshall, Joevin Jones, Friberg, Alonso, Ivanschitz, Morris, Valdez, Dempsey.

Subs: Miller, Scott, Fisher, Sturgis, Darwin Jones, Roldan, Kovar.

Fun Fact
On 8th May 2013, at Sporting KC, Sounders’ goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann was sent off on 24’ – from the BENCH!