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. Sounders travel to State Avenue for a High Noon Sunday showdown with Sporting Kansas City. Morale is low in the Green family right now. The Treecutters sit in the last MLS Cup finals Western Conference playoff berth nine points clear of our current position with 15 matches left to play in the league. Sounders FC currently sit 17th in the league table. Midweek at Avalon Boulevard, the Sounders crashed out of the US Open Cup, turning their 1:2 advantage on 58 minutes into a 4:2 defeat against Los Angeles. With all this said, a return to form for the Sounders could very likely earn them an MLS Cup berth. The Supporter’s Shield is likely out of reach, with FC Dallas 20 points clear at the top. With the Sounders averaging slightly more than a point per game in the league standings, we would earn approximately 15 more points for a total of 35. FC Dallas with 12 matches remaining, but earning nearly two points a match would put them at approximately 41-42 points. So the statistics don’t bear out winning the league, based on current form. In order to win the league, the Sounders would have to win at the very least over half their remaining matches, hoping Dallas, and their closest rivals would drop enough results that they could be overtaken. With Sounders currently at a winning percentage of approximately 31%, winning the league is an unlikely scenario. What is left to play for is a shot at MLS Cup. This would still be a difficult goal to achieve, but it is manageable provided that our form improves and that some combination of San Jose, Kansas City, Portland, Vancouver, and Salt Lake run into a nasty patch of negative results. I’m betting that Sounders will qualify for the MLS Cup. This will be my firmly held belief until the moment it becomes mathematically impossible for us to qualify. So Sounders supporters, the faithful, need to convene at all the matches and viewing parties possible to will the Sounders to victory. Some of the greatest football clubs in history have slogged through hard times. The best supporters never give up hope, and carry on cheering their side throughout even the most horrible patches of form. Unbowed and unbroken, we shall raise our glasses in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

The Good News
According to past results, Sounders FC have only dropped one match in six at State Avenue. Dempsey will return, as his self-imposed exile from the US Open Cup does not affect his availability for league matches. Hopefully, Clint will return with a thirst for redemption after the dismal midweek showing by his teammates. Nearly the entire side is available for selection except for Torres and Kovar. If our healthy players play to the level of their talents, we can expect a positive result in the midwest. The prevailing trend for the Sounders over the years has been: rough start, brilliant finish. Whether or not we hold true to those trends will decide whether or not we qualify for MLS Cup.

The Bad News
Past results for the Sounders have proven to be unreliable indicators for predicting match outcomes in 2016. The bitter pill to swallow, is that the Sounders FC were a far more threatening opponent before Obafemi Martins made his big money move to China. Recent form in the league is currently in the tank with only one win out of the last six matches and two wins in the last ten. Recent play reveals the Sounders as a team that has trouble holding the football, often turning the ball over in midfield. This level of play rarely produces positive results.

The Rest
Although Besler and Mapp are both listed as out through injury, both were on the substitute’s bench for Sporting’s last match against Colorado. All six players on the injury list for Sporting have been evaluated as having either a muscle strain or a ligament strain. Therefore I’d say it’s a toss up whether any of these players will truly be ruled out for selection for Sunday’s match.

Familiar Faces
Former California Golden Bears player Connor Hallisey is now a contracted midfield player for Sporting KC. SKC defender, Olum played 44 times for arch-rivals Portland scoring six goals.

Selections for Last Match (KC in MLS, SSFC in USOC)
Kansas City: Melia, Abdul-Salaam, Opara, Olum, Medranda, Espinoza, Mustivar, Feilhaber, Peterson, Dwyer, Davis.

Bench: Kann (gk), Besler, Sinovic, Ellis, Mapp, Rubio, Hallisey.

Sounders FC: Miller, Fisher, Scott, Alfaro, Remick, Farfan, Sturgis, Mathers, Kovar, Gomez, Anderson.

Bench: Frei (gk), Mears, Joevin Jones, Evans, Craven, Morris, Roldan.

Injury List
Kansas City-
OUT: Besler (MCL), Mapp (calf), Davis (calf).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Coelho (hamstring), Nagamura (thigh), Zusi (hamstring), Myers (hamstring).

Sounders FC-
OUT: Torres (ACL), Kovar (broken clavicle).

Discipline
Kansas City: none suspended.
Medranda suspended next booking.

Sounders FC: Alonso (Sent Off).

Fun Fact
In the history between Sporting KC and the Sounders, win-loss results have never been decided by more than a one goal margin.

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