Riding a two-match winning streak and unbeaten in four (3-0-1), Sounders FC heads to Kansas City to face Sporting KC for the second time in 15 days. The teams played to a scoreless draw on May 23, the first such result in the previous 35 MLS games at CenturyLink Field
Seattle owns a perfect 4-0-0 record at Sporting Park, but injuries, suspensions and international call-ups could make lineup selection interesting for Sigi Schmid in Saturday night’s contest. Here are three key matchups to watch.
Seattle outside backs vs. Graham Zusi
SKC is scoreless in the last 352 regular-season minutes against Seattle, but Zusi is among their many attacking players capable of ending that drought. The USMNT midfielder has missed some time this season due to injuries and was limited to just 13 minutes as a substitute on May 23 at CenturyLink Field. However, heading into Saturday’s game, Zusi is healthy and in form, having notched a goal and two assists in SKC’s 4-0 win over FC Dallas last weekend. Depending on which side of the pitch he lines up on, Zusi will be a challenge for either Dylan Remick or Tyrone Mears.
Marco Pappa vs. Roger Espinoza
Espinoza has made a significant impact in the midfield in his first season back with Sporting KC. Similar to Zusi, the 28-year-old is now healthy after sitting out two games due to injury. Espinoza, who started his career in KC before playing in England for two years, has started all 10 of his appearances this season and contributed a pair of assists. He could be vital in stopping Seattle’s Pappa, who generally lines up on the wing but often tucks in and creates with the ball at his feet in the attack. Pappa has scored in two consecutive matches – including the MLS Goal of the Week vs. New York – and is second on the team with five assists.
Seattle depth vs. Kansas City depth
Perhaps more than any positional battle, the depth of each club will be telling, as both sides are missing important players. Not only is Ozzie Alonso out for the Sounders, but captain Brad Evans is away on National Team duty and Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Gonzalo Pineda and Chad Barrett are all questionable for selection. For the host team, MLS Player of the Month Krisztian Nemeth was called into Hungary Men’s National Team camp and fellow striker Dom Dwyer is questionable due to injury.