Dempsey vs SKC 150603
Dan Poss

Go Figure: Rave Green hit the road after three-match homestand

After closing out the month with an impressive seven points during the club’s first-ever three-matches-in-nine-days-at-CenturyLink-Field stretch, the Rave Green sit atop the Supporters’ Shield table with the best record in MLS. As a result, there is a bonanza of box score nuggets that still must be unraveled. Numbers crunchers, assemble!

Seasonal Sizzles

Sounders FC catapulted to first place in the Western Conference with 26 points (8-3-2), plus one game in-hand on second-place Vancouver Whitecaps FC (7-5-2, 23 points). The 26 points also positions Seattle in the pole position for the Supporters’ Shield, sitting one point above Eastern Conference leader D.C. United with one game in hand. Seattle is the only team in the Western Conference with eight wins, and its 2.00 points per match average is on pace to top its Supporters’ Shield-winning performance last season (1.88). The club is tied for the second-most goals (20) in MLS and has allowed the fewest scoring tallies (10), resulting in the league’s top scoring differential (plus-10).

Forward Clint Dempsey currently ranks third with both seven goals and six assists, and is tied for the league-lead with both three game-winning goals and game-winning assists. Forward Obafemi Martins sits one goal behind Dempsey, while midfielder Marco Pappa checks in with five assists. Chad Barrett ranks third on the club with three goals, and has done so in just over 300 minutes of action. His average of 0.88 goals per 90 minutes leads all qualifying MLS players. 

Last Week’s Listings

Last Sunday’s thrilling 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls marked the end of a three-game homestand. Barrett’s winner one minute into second-half stoppage time resulted in the club’s first comeback victory of the season. New York’s 36th-minute goal ceased goalkeeper Stefan Frei’s 338-minute scoreless streak, which is the fourth-longest in club history and the longest streak in MLS this season.

Coupling Sunday’s win with a pair of shutouts in the two games prior, Frei has positioned himself at the top of nearly every goalkeeping category. He paces all qualifying keepers in wins (eight), shutouts (seven), saves (52), save percentage (83.9%), win percentage (62%) and goals against average (0.77).

Matchup Mashup

Next up, Sounders FC faces Sporting Kansas City, who currently ranks tied for third in the Western Conference (5-2-6, 21 points). Sporting KC played Seattle to its second scoreless stalemate of the 2015 campaign on May 23 at CenturyLink Field, and is unbeaten in its past six matches (3-0-3).

Sounders FC is 7-1-2 all-time against Sporting KC in regular-season action, including an unblemished 4-0-0 record on the road. Eight of Seattle’s 12 goals have come in the final 15 minutes against Sporting KC, including six goals in stoppage time (five game-winners). Each of the 10 meetings between the two clubs have been decided one goal or fewer.

Throwback

Although Nate Jaqua’s game-winning goal came earlier than what was to become the norm in the series, Sounders FC beat Sporting KC for the first time on October 17, 2009. Seattle struck first on an unassisted goal by Tyrone Marshall, but Sporting KC took the lead on two quick goals to open the second half. Roger Levesque’s equalizer in the 69th minute game gave Jaqua the opportunity to tally the winner in the 76th minute for the 3-2 win.

Not only was this the first win against Sporting and the first match in Kansas City, it established the first result of nine straight unbeaten fixtures (7-0-2) for Seattle in the series. Furthermore, it marks the only time the Sounders have scored more than two goals in the traditionally low-scoring matchups.

Key(s) to the Game

Set out for an early lead. On May 23, as the 0-0 score ticked in the waning seconds, it was nearly expectant for the Sounders to come away with another late win against SKC, as history suggests. That didn’t happen, though, and it may be best for the club to establish the pace early on. Seattle is a perfect 6-0-0 when leading at halftime in 2015, which is the best mark across the league.

With a stingy backline and brick-wall keeper, perhaps the Sounders should rewrite the matchup narrative and score early. After all, in 10 regular season meetings, Seattle has only scored twice in the opening 45 minutes.

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