Three Key Match-Ups: at Sporting Kansas City

The Sounders are set to take on Sporting Kansas City. Here are three match-ups to look for.

Sounders FC @ Sporting Kansas City
May 8, 2013, 5:30 pm PT, Sporting Park
TV/Radio: KONG 6/16; THIS-TV (KOMO 4.2), La Gran D 99.3 (Spanish)

Sounders FC meet Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday at Sporting Park in the middle game in a stretch of three matches in eight days in what has always been a hotly contested matchup. Seattle may lead the all-time series 5-1-1 and are unbeaten in their last six matches against Kansas City in league play, but no match has been decided by more than one goal.

Here are some matchups that could influence the match.

Kei Kamara vs. Zach Scott

Sporting Kansas City got a boost on Monday when forward Kei Kamara returned from his loan with Norwich City in the Premier League. The club’s leading scorer in 2012 with 11 goals, Kamara comes back to a more offensive adept squad after the addition of forward Claudio Bieler. He may not start, but if he plays he will see time as the left forward in Kansas City’s 4-3-3 formation, which will likely mean a physical battle with Sounders FC right back Zach Scott, assuming the veteran defender starts in place of the suspended DeAndre Yedlin.

Claudio Bieler vs. Djimi Traore and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado

On Sunday, Claudio Bieler scored two goals against Chivas USA to move into a tie atop the league scoring charts with six goals. Wednesday will mark the second time in five days that the Sounders defense has been put to the task of stopping one of the league’s top scorers. On Saturday, the veteran cunning of Djimi Traore and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado limited the opportunities for Philadelphia Union forward Jack McInerney and they will have to do the same against Bieler and Kansas City to be successful.

Eddie Johnson vs. KC’s Best XI defense

In 2012, Sporting Kansas City had four players in the MLS Best XI. Three of them make up the defensive triangle of goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and defenders Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler. Although Besler missed KC’s match on Sunday with a right knee sprain, it is still a formidable defense that has six shutouts in 10 matches. However, they did prove vulnerable late last month, allowing five goals in two matches against the LA Galaxy and Portland Timbers. Eddie Johnson will look to similarly capitalize against Sporting KC in his first league match in Kansas City since he transferred to Fulham in 2007. He has two goals this year after scoring on Saturday against Philadelphia and he is looking to add to that total after posting a club-record 14 goals for the Sounders last year.