SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC v. SPORTING KANSAS CITY – Pre-Match Analysis

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. It is well to address you this day, as we are currently experiencing the best form of the 2017 MLS season. After our humbling 3:0 defeat in May at State Avenue, we have loaded for bear, signing Victor Rodriguez, Callum Mallace, and set up a return for our dear Lamar Neagle. Good days indeed. This match against Sporting KC marks the first stern test since our revival that began in June. Sporting boast a top defence and have been shredding their way through the league ever since we sent them packing in MLS Cup last year. This means that our boys in Green will require our utmost support this afternoon. At Royal Brougham Park, at all the viewing parties around the Puget Sound area and beyond, we shall need all voices as one, united in our common cause. Eyes bright. Voices loud. We will make a collective noise that will shake the fabric of the very earth itself. Before kick-off, join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!

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With us unbeaten in our last seven matches and Sporting unbeaten in their last nine, THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE!!! (Millenials, this is a reference to the film “Highlander”)

The Good News
We are in the best vein of form just now. We are unbeaten in our last seven matches and have won four of the last five. If you walk it back a bit further, we are 7-3-2 (W-D-L) in our last 12 matches. Sporting have only one win in their last five matches. We lead the all-time series in the league 7-3-5. Playing at home, we have only lost two out of seven matches against Kansas City. Our record against common opponents is very similar to Kansas City’s. We score goals at a slightly higher rate per match compared to Sporting. We have recently added midfielders, Victor Rodriguez, Lamar Neagle, and Callum Mallace. These signings significantly improve our depth in the midfield as we proceed through the end of the league schedule, and have our runs at the MLS Cup and the upcoming 2018 run in the CONCACAF Champions League. As Dom Dwyer was swapped to Orlando City, we do not have to face him. This is well as Kansas City has had trouble scoring goals ever since his departure.

The Bad News
We have failed to score on SKC in the league since the 2015 season. After the heated exchanges in our MLS Cup tie against KC, it looks like we’ve given Sporting the motivation to obliterate all in their path this season. They have only lost four matches out of 23 in the breadth of the season so far. They defeated a Chicago Fire side that soundly thrashed us 4:1. Although Sporting has only three wins in their last nine matches, they are unbeaten in that stretch. Sporting have only lost two matches in their last 13. There were hard feelings between the two clubs after we defeated them in the MLS Cup. Feilhaber (and others) looked fit to slap someone during that match. They hate us, and they play up to their full, scary potential when they face us, as we witnessed in our 3:0 defeat at State Avenue this May. Gerson Fernandes torched us for a hat-trick in that match. Unless our centre-halves can solve him, it will be another long day at the office. Sporting boast the best defence in the league having only allowed 18 goals all season. An average of less than a goal per match. Two days ago, Sounders 2 forward, Victor Mansaray was waived. He was a promising home grown prospect, and it’s sad to see him go.

Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper
Melia, 31, has 71 MLS matches under his belt and is the undisputed first choice between the pipes for Sporting.

Defence
Abdul-Salaam, 25, has 55 matches for Sporting and has been with them since 2015.

Opara, 28, has 103 MLS matches under his belt, 68 for Sporting. He was a third overall selection in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. He has 11 caps for USA youth sides.

Besler, 30, is their skipper and has played well over 200 matches for Sporting. He has 44 United States caps. He is a premier centre-half in the league.

Sinovic, 30, is a veteran of over 150 MLS matches, 133 of which have been with Sporting. He has been with Kansas City since 2011.

Midfield
Espinoza, 30, has played over 170 matches for Sporting and played 36 matches for Wigan Athletic FC of England. He has 46 caps for Honduras and is on a Designated Player contract.

Sanchez, 26, is a Spanish national that joined Kansas City just this season. He previously played for Barcelona B 114 times and also played over 20 matches at 1860 Munich and Elche. Safe to call him a veteran of Spanish football.

Lobato, 28, is also a Spanish national that joined Kansas City just this season. He played nearly 60 matches for Barcelona B and also had a brief spell at Osasuna.

Forward
Gerso Fernandes, 26, was a veteran of Portuguese football before joining Sporting this season. He played over 90 times for Estoril and had spells at Academica and Belenenses before heading to Kansas City. He is a veteran of Guinea-Bissau and touched us for three goals to humble us in our meeting in May.

Blessing, 20, is a Ghanian national who came to Kansas City this season from Liberty Professionals, where he hit 17 goals in 21 matches.

Salloi, 21, is a Hungarian national who joined Sporting in 2016. He was developed by Ujpest FC and Sporting. He has less than 30 matches of top level football. He was once capped for Hungary U-18s.

Familiar Faces
Not a one.

Squads
Sounders FC from: Frei, Miller, Meredith, Evans, Tolo, Marshall, Alfaro, Leerdam, Torres, Jones, Fisher, Svensson, Roldan, Rodriguez, Lodeiro, Kovar, Shipp, Delem, Wingo, Mathers, Mallace, Dempsey, Adekoya, Morris, Bruin, Neagle.

Sporting KC from: Melia, Zendejas, Dykstra, Palmer-Brown, Opara, Ellis, Besler, Zusi, Sinovic, Abdul-Salaam, Storm, Didic, Sanchez, Feilhaber, Lobato, Espinoza, Pasher, Mustivar, Medranda, Gerso Fernandes, Blessing, Rubio, Saad, Iwasa, Salloi.

Injury List
Sounders FC –
OUT: Alonso (MCL).
MATCHDAY DECISION: None.

Sporting KC –
OUT: Porter (broken leg).
MATCHDAY DECISION: None.

Discipline
None suspended for either club.

Fun Fact
Sounders’ newboy, Callum Mallace, was born in Scotland but grew up in Minnesota. He was developed by Marquette (NCAA) and has 112 pro matches under his belt, 80 at the MLS level. He played with Harry Shipp and Lamar Neagle at Montreal. Here are some Callum Mallace quotes reported by SoundersFC.com:

“The technical director in Montreal gave me a call and gave the news,”

“I was ecstatic – what a club, what a city. As soon as I found out the news I was smiling from ear-to-ear. I am happy to be here.”

“They have built this quality team from the ground up and I am excited to be a part of it,”

You are well come in the Evergreen, Callum. Good on ye.

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