Sounders FC (10-5-8) vs. Sporting Kansas City (7-6-9)
Saturday, August 6, 5:30 p.m., Livestrong Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan.
TV/radio: KONG-TV 6/16, KIRO-FM 97.3 (Arlo White, Erin Mayovsky)
Referee: Jair Marrufo
KEY SPORTING KC PLAYERS
F/M Omar Bravo — You can pick and choose between several dangerous weapons on offense, but the Mexican DP currently leads the team with six goals. Can play a number of positions in the 4-3-3 attack and will likely have the freedom to roam in the offensive third. Keep a look out for him.
D Matt Besler — Earned a phenomenal amount of fan support to be text-voted into the MLS All-Star Game. A Kansas City native, it’s not hard to see why he’s a favorite. Not exactly physically imposing a 6-feet, 170 pounds, but he’s played more minutes (1,800) than any other KC field player by far.
GK Jimmy Nielsen — The White Pumas was arguably the best shot-stopper in the league last year, but hasn’t been on quite the same form this year. Has a decent 1.23 GAA but just three shutouts. Might we see another standout goalkeeping performance? It is his birthday today…
CJ Sapong/Teal Bunbury vs. Jeff Parke/Patrick Ianni — Not sure which physically gifted, young and talented forward KC will start, but combined they have eight goals and six assists. Seattle has been leaking goals recently in league play (the focus of my preview story) and we’ll see if that trend continues.
Osvaldo Alonso vs. Jeferson/Graham Zusi — The tenacious Cuban didn’t have the influence we’re used to seeing more him in the Houston game and he’ll have to be busy today. Jeferson is a newly acquired Brazilian DP and fellow midfieder Zusi might be one of the bigger surprises in the league this season.
Confidence vs. rest — It was a rough week or two for the Sounders, but Wednesday’s victory over San Francisco FC surely restored some confidence. That might do little to help two days rest and another long flight to sunny Kansas City. It’ll be interesting to see what lineup Seattle fields.
The hosts are arguably the hottest team in the league right now with a 14-game unbeaten streak. The streak might’ve been 15 games if not for a winning header by Parke deep into stoppage time.
There’s something magical going on at Livestrong Sporting Park and I think it continues for KC. I’ve consistently had them rated higher than most others in the power rankings and think they’re an extremely dangerous side.
Should be a tough one, but I’m predicting a loss today.
Sporting KC 2, Sounders FC 1
KC — Bravo (Zusi) 13′
SEA — Montero (Lamar Neagle) 63′
KC — Kei Kamara (Bunbury) 78′
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What do you think? What’s your prediction?