SEATTLE - MAY 21: Roger Levesque #24 of the Seattle Sounders FC battles Roger Espinoza #15 of Sporting Kansas City at Qwest Field on May 21, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
The matches are coming quick and each team has a packed schedule, but high hopes for both the MLS and US Open Cup. Do each put out a full strength squad? The attitudes of both franchises say yes, which makes this game all the more exciting.
A month with no action leads to a week with triple the action, which I'm sure contains some lurid comparison I would make on a website that I owned. So Sporting KC finds itself riding a wave of positive play up to Seattle to meet a Seattle Sounders squad that hasn't had such luck outside the US Open Cup. While they haven't lost a US Open Cup match in three years, Seattle is on a five match winless streak, but don't expect any sympathy from a Sporting KC side that has repeated been foiled in the waning moments of matches by Seattle.
If It Was Only May Again
A month and a half ago, this may have been the match of the year, much like the Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City match earlier in April was billed. Both teams were on the top of their games and conferences respectively. Since then Sporting KC was mired in a five game winless streak that started in late April and Seattle finds itself in the same place. Each side was blitzed by expansion Montreal as well making the symmetry uncanny. However, the MLS is a long season and it may be that both of these teams are momentarily dethroned. For Sporting KC, this may be a reality, but Seattle's slip has coincided with the ascent of Real Salt Lake, so it may be that like in years past, Seattle can't make up the ground.
Expect Off-Target Shots
Sporting KC currently leads the league in shots per game while Seattle sits sixth. This correctly implies that both teams possess firepower and superior offenses. However, Sporting KC and Seattle are 17th and 15th respectively in the percentage of shots they hit on target, which says that they are incredibly wild with their chances. When they do get it on target, both score at an above average rate, but that has variables of goalie play and ease of chances that can be attributed. For example, Sporting's goals last week were well taken but unmarked as well. As for goalie play, ask anyone who plays Chivas USA how many goals they should have scored against them.
The positive of this is both teams feature high possession games, which lead to more shots, but require them to break down opponents who may be outmatched. It will be interesting to see which side is more pro-active, because it may suit either side to counter-attack in this match, or for us fans just to have an open match, which I warn leads to stoppage time heartbreak as usual.
Looking to Troll A&M Fans
This is the hardest road match of the year for Sporting KC. No one in the Eastern Conference can match the experience in Seattle, and no one has the capabilities that this Seattle team does on both ends. This match-up pits two wild-shooting teams with talented midfields up against each other. The possession helps them to have the stingiest defenses in the league as well. It is about as even as a Sporting KC match will look this year, even counting the Real Salt Lake match, which is a tribute to how well these teams are built when healthy.
So, we look for another factor that may tip the scales either way. In this case, each team has tremendous home field advantage, as Seattle is the only team that has ever truly filled their cavernous football stadium and Sporting has Livestrong Sporting Park. Since this match is in Seattle, the 12th Man may tip the scales their way. This may send the A&M fans over here, but remember Paul Allen pays you gobs of money for that anyways.
Graham Zusi Roger Espinoza
Kei Kamara CJ Sapong
Seattle 2- Sporting KC 1
Me of little faith. This isn't a bad match to lose, and there is the possibility that in knowing that Vermes rests some starters. There is also the possibility that Seattle's slide continues and Sporting dominates as they did the league favorites back in April. That is why it says prediction above and not certainty.