Now four weeks through their 2023 season, the Seattle Sounders are headed into their biggest depth test yet in MLS Matchday 5.
Saturday’s road matchup with Sporting Kansas City (5:30 p.m. PT; MLS Season Pass on Apple TV app, 950 KJR, El Rey 1360AM). at Children’s Mercy Park comes with three starting regulars departing on international duty for Seattle: Forward Raúl Ruidíaz (Peru), defender Nouhou (Cameroon) and right back Alex Roldan (El Salvador).
While all three are key cogs in Head Coach Brian Schmetzer’s regular XI, with those absences comes an opportunity for other players on the roster.
“Next man up,” said Schmetzer at training this week. “That’s one of my favorite sayings.”
It remains to be seen exactly how Seattle lines up on Saturday, but they do know one thing with certainty: They’ll be playing a Sporting Kansas City side intent on procuring a victory on their home field as they look for their first three-point result of 2023.
While they haven’t started in great form, Sounders midfielder Albert Rusnák said those circumstances can often create an even more dangerous opposition.
“They’re in search of their first win of the season,” said Rusnák. “It’s not always fun to play those teams that are looking for their first win of the season, and especially when they play at home. So we expect a tough game, a crowd that will be loud and get behind them. It will be another tough game on the road.”
Added Schmetzer: “Tough team. They’re going to want to win at home, they haven’t won yet, so a little bit of pressure there. It’s a challenging place to play, even in the best of circumstances.”
Every Match. Every Screen.
MLS Season Pass is the new home for Sounders FC on the Apple TV App.
For Seattle, the hope will be they can build on the positive takeaways from Matchday 4’s hard-fought, but ultimately frustrating 0-0 draw against LAFC at Lumen Field.
Both Schmetzer and Rusnák said they felt better about the performance on film review than they did in the immediate aftermath. That said, more sharpness with the end product in front of goal is the objective going forward.
“It’s frustrating probably for a lot of people, but the team actually played fairly well and created some chances, had some half-chances,” said Schmetzer. “…It was an interesting game, but when I re-watched the film, I thought we played a lot of good stuff.”
The international absences present a challenge, but Rusnák said the group has full confidence in the players that will be called on to fill the void.
“I think we had a long enough preseason and the players have been here long enough and we train on it every day, and we change people even in training that play different positions in case there is an international break where you have a few people go away, or there’s injuries,” he said.
“I think we have great players that can play many different positions, and given how many players we have that have left with their national teams, yeah, there will be some rotation for sure.”
2023 Season Memberships
Join the Sounders Family with a 2023 Alliance Membership. Be part of the storied success and culture of our club.