Time: 7:00 PM
TV: KONG 6/16
As the ESPN and other supporters begin hyping up the, always exciting, Cascadia Rivalry game against Portland, Saturday, the Sounders must return home for one tune up game before that. Through the last 6 games the Sounders are winless, which is total opposite of their 5 game winning streak to start May. It is hard to pin point exactly what has gone wrong for the Sounders, whether it is injuries, fatigue, lack of motivation, or any other circumstance, but all we know is that the results have not been there. Whatever the reason is the Sounders are looking for the answers as they host second place in the East, Sporting Kansas City.
While the Sounders were able to start their 2012 campaign on a good streak, Sporting Kansas City was on a hotter streak. To start the season Kansas City went 8-0-0 showing their dominance through five 1-0 wins, a 3-0 shut out win and two more games where they only allowed 1 goal.
There are three main things that stick out to Kansas City’s dominance. The first thing is the consistency and veteran presence of their defense and goalkeeper combination. The anchor of that defense is 35-year-old veteran goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen who is allowing .77 goals per game. With his age and knowledge of the game it is hard to beat Nielsen because of his good positioning and size giving him the advantage over most shots. The second is the scoring duo of veteran Kai Kamara and the youth of CJ Sapong who both have accumulated 5 goals each. The final stat that supports their dominating play is the production of Graham Zusi, in the midfield, who is tied for the league lead in assists with 8. Through these three reasons Sporting Kansas City has been able to dominate the east.
The good news for the Sounders is that center back Matt Besler will not play due to injury. Besler has played and started in 12 games this season, which could lead to Sporting having to play an inexperienced back for the Sounders to take advantage of. Some more semi-good news for the Sounders is that Kai Kamara is scheduled not to start today due to returning from international duties for Sierra Leon, but he could potentially being a sub later in the game. The Sounders will need to take advantage of this early on so that if he does come in he can’t play that big of a role.
Last Saturday the Sounders were embarrassed, after coming back from a two week break, by the Montreal Impact in their new stadium with a 4-1 loss. This shouldn’t have been a result of lack of preparedness after having two weeks to prepare for the game. What it looked like was that there was a lack of motivation to play. There was little organization, very few combination plays, a lack of chances and a lack of finishing. Through this the Sounders were dominated.
This week the Sounders get some good news and bad news. The bad news is that they will be without center back Jhon Kennedy Hurtado who received a questionable red card last game and will serve a suspension this game. The good news is that the rock of the defense/midfield, Osvaldo Alonso, will return after serving a 2 game suspension. The gain of Alonso should be a larger gain though for the Sounders as he has been the most consistent player this season on the defense. Look for Alonso to play a huge role tonight if the Sounders want a win. The loss of Hurtado will not be a huge loss as Sigi has many players who can fill that role, and it will most likely be Zach Scott.
Sporting Kansas City is a strong team and it is hard to find a weakness in their team. The Sounders will need to take advantage of the new center back, take Sapong out of the game, take all the shots they can and just not look for the perfect shot. The fans will be out in full force, as they know this is an important game for the near future of this team. I see the Sounders coming out with an early lead, but the strength of Sporting’s attack will come out in the second half and the game ends in a 2-2 tie.