Preview: Tale of two different teams as Seattle Sounders host Sporting KC

Seattle Sounders Sporting
The last time the Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City met up was an intense, close game. Photo courtesy of Nick Smith/Seattle Sounders FC.

Preview (Aug. 2, 2019) — The Seattle Sounders FC are used to starting off their season slow. However, this year, the tide turned in favor for the Sounders. Instead of starting off slow, the Sounders hit the ground running and piled up five wins and one draw in their first six matches.

Meanwhile, Sporting Kansas City is used to keeping consistent throughout seasons. In recent years, the club has won two U.S. Open Cup titles, as well as taking first place in the Western Conference last year. However, this year, consistency is a foreign concept to Sporting.

The last time Sporting Kansas City didn’t make the MLS Cup Playoffs was way back in 2010. Meanwhile, every single season that the Seattle Sounders have competed in has resulted in a trip to the playoffs. Right now, if the season were to end today, Sporting would be watching as Seattle made a run for the final.

Seattle currently holds second place in the Western Conference. They’re way above the playoff line. Meanwhile, Sporting Kansas City is in foreign territory, sitting in 10th place, below the playoff line.

All hope isn’t lost, though.

The Western Conference is a tight group. The team that currently would take the final playoff spot is the Portland Timbers. Right now, the Timbers hold seventh place with 31 points. That’s only six points ahead of Sporting Kansas City.

Three points are a must for every match Sporting plays in this season. CenturyLink Field isn’t an easy venue to play at on the road. Sporting is going to have their hands full.

Seattle Sounders FC vs. Sporting Kansas City
2019 MLS Regular Season
CenturyLink Field
July 27, 2019 — 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET

TV: Fox Sports

What to Watch For 

A second-string replacement for Leerdam?

Right now, Kelvin Leerdam is on the Seattle Sounders injury list with a right ankle injury. We’ll get to more of the injury list later, but this one is pretty important. Leerdam has been so lethal for the Sounders this season. His work on defense is second-to-none and he’s becoming a household name around the league.

However, his attacking work is impressive too.

Leerdam is tied for second on the Sounders with Jordan Morris for most goals this season. Both players have scored five times this season, and are right behind Raúl Ruidíaz, who has scored eight goals.

Leerdam is questionable right now. However, if he’s not able to go on Sunday night, Brian Schmetzer has a couple options. Saad Abdul-Salaam has substituted in a few matches for Leerdam. However, in 10 appearances, he only has six starts.

Another option could be pushing Joevin Jones back to right back. However, Jones has been filling in an attacking role, a spot that Schmetzer prefers him in — that’s why they extended the loan agreement with Brad Smith.

If someone has to step up for Leerdam, they’re going to need to balance attack and defense the way he did. Seattle has a good defensive system where the two backs have no problem getting forward. Normally, Seattle keeps Cristian Roldan and Gustav Svensson in lower midfield roles, so the backs can push up the sides. The centerbacks — usually Kim Kee-hee and Roman Torres — rarely get up into the attack.

Plus, the defense will have their hands full with Gerso, Yohan Croizet and Roger Espinoza, among others.

The Injury Report

Seattle Sounders FC

Leerdam is listed as questionable right now with a right ankle injury. However, joining him on that list is Raúl Ruidíaz, who has been dealing with a concussion. Schmetzer did say that the Peruvian will be back for Sunday, as long as he passes the concussion protocol process.

Meanwhile, Smith was forced to come off the pitch in Houston. However, his injury was listed as undisclosed. Schmetzer insinuated that Smith will be fine and ready for the match against Kansas City.

Schmetzer did also give a small update on Victor Rodriguez. The midfielder has been plagued with injuries throughout his time with the Seattle Sounders. He’s out with a hamstring injury.

“Victor was out here running today, and he joined in on some of the exercises,” Schmetzer said. “He was in the possession game, so he’s coming along… It’s encouraging news.”

Sporting Kansas City

Three players are out with injury. Jaylin Lindsey tore his meniscus back in March and was listed as out for four or five months. Meanwhile, Rodney Wallace had hip surgery in late April, as he’s out for at least six months. Defender Cameron Duuke is out with a hamstring injury.

Last Meeting: May 26, 2019

The last meeting between the Sounders and Sporting KC was an intense battle. Seattle did drop three points, as Sporting Kansas City picked up two first-half goals. Kelvin Leerdam’s goal in the 71st minute wasn’t enough to help the Sounders secure any points.

Prediction: Sounders 2, Sporting 0 

Seattle is so good when they’re at home. If they get Ruidíaz back too, then look out. Leerdam being on the roster would be a huge help, but if the Sounders have to turn to Abdul-Salaam then they shouldn’t break a sweat. He’s not some rookie that hasn’t faced big-name talent before.

Seattle scores with Ruidíaz, should be be healthy. Also, look for All-Star player Nicolas Lodeiro to make an impact in the midfield — as usual.

PHOTO: The last time the Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City met up was an intense, close game. Photo courtesy of Nick Smith/Seattle Sounders FC.

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