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June 20, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Sounders FC vs. Sporting Kansas City, preview and prediction

Sporting Kansas City Logo.jpgSounders FC (7-4-3) vs. Sporting Kansas City (9-3-1)

Wednesday, June 20, 7 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.

TV/radio: KONG-TV 6/16, KIRO 97.3 FM (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)

Spanish radio: La Gran D 99.3

Referee: Jair Marrufo

KEY SPORTING KC PLAYERS

M Graham Zusi — The 25-year-old has been one of the league’s breakthrough players the past couple seasons. His eight assists are tied for most in the league right now with D.C. United star Dwayne De Rosario and he’s one of four players who have started all 13 games for SKC this season. He’s even started to get on Jurgen Klinsmann’s radar for the U.S men’s national team.

D Aurelien Collin — The center back is remarkably the team’s third-leading scorer with three goals, which is more than guys like Eric Hassli and Landon Donovan. He’s the leading vote-getter in MLS All-Star voting for defenders and leads a defense that’s allowed a league-low 10 goals this season. He’s a pretty entertaining guy off the field, as well.

F CJ Sapong — The second-year forward has five goals, which is tied for the team high with forward partner Kei Kamara. A lot of the offensive responsibility will fall on his shoulders, however, as Kamara isn’t expected to start after just coming back from international duty. Last year’s MLS Rookie of the Year has all the physical tools of a prototypical forward. And his rapping ability? Well, judge for yourself.

KEY MATCHUPS

Teal Bunbury vs. Jeff Parke — With Kamara expected to come off the bench, that means the Akron product will probably start up front for the visitors. He hasn’t had the full impact that many might have expected, but he’s got the talent to be dangerous. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado’s suspension will mean Parke will need to come up big in central defense.

Mauro Rosales vs. Seth Sinovic — Seattle’s captain and playmaker on the right hasn’t been able to find his form from 2011, when he had a team record 13 assists, but he’s starting to feel better and better as he gets over the injuries. KC’s young left back has been a regular since the middle of last season after starting his career in New England.

Andrew Weber vs. the nerves of a first start — As had been alluded to earlier in the week, it appears Sigi Schmid will instead start Weber in place of Bryan Meredith in goal. A league veteran, Weber had been in a tight battle for the No. 2 spot behind Michael Gspurning before suffering a high ankle sprain in a reserve game. Now it’s his turn to start with Meredith struggling a bit. Will he make the most of it?

PREDICTION

I think the Sounders are due for a win. The home crowd will be a boost to the get out of the slump, as will the return of Osvaldo Alonso and potentially Patrick Ianni in the back.

We often talk about MLS parity and usually it’s about an unexpected loss. I think this time it works in the other direction as Seattle, despite its struggles, will get the result against a team that’s been playing pretty well (though the folks at MLSsoccer.com don’t think so).

Don’t forget, the Sounders have won five in a row against Kansas City, including quite a few heartbreakers.

Sounders FC 1, Sporting Kansas City 0

SEA — Fredy Montero (un) 75′

* * *

What do you think? How do you see this one playing out?

COMMENTS

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