To preview the midweek clash between Sporting Kansas City and the Seattle Sounders, I interviewed SB Nation and MLSSoccer.com writer Jeremiah Oshan.
What's been the main reason for Seattle struggling offensively (5 goals through 7 matches)?
"The biggest thing has to be the lack of continuity, especially in the attacking core of the team. Mauro Rosales is the only attacking player who has played in every game. Shalrie Joseph has only played in two games. Eddie Johnson has only played in four games. Lamar Neagle has played in three games. Zakuani has played but missed a couple games. Even Osvaldo Alonso has missed a game (Sunday at Philadelphia). Everyone has missed a bunch of games. It's not just that they are missing games it's that a lot of these players haven't really had any significant training time together. You just have key pieces on this team, the guys that were expected to score a lot of goals, that haven't been able to get any continuity. Most of that's injuries but there's been national team call-ups and other things. I would think that once these guys actually train together for a few weeks at a time that things will get better but that was supposed to happen in the bye week and guys got hurt."
What are your thoughts on Sporting Kansas City?
"They are clearly a very good team and I have to imagine they're one of the favorites, if not the favorite, to the MLS Cup at this point."
How do you think Seattle will approach Wednesday's match?
"I think that they view it as maybe not a must win game but I definitely think that its a game that they realize they need to get some points from. There's going to be some missing pieces again. DeAndre Yedlin and Lamar Neagle are out with red cards. Shalrie Joseph didn't travel. Oba Martins didn't travel. Steve Zakuani didn't travel. It's a short-handed team yet again but I think that they are beyond the point of relying on that as kind of an excuse. This is a team that built a pretty deep squad. I think they are definitely going into this game trying to get points. They've played reasonably well at Kansas City. They haven't lost in regulation in the two games they've played at Sporting Park. I would imagine that they'll probably come into it with a similar attitude that they came in with the 2011 game when they got a couple late goals to win it."
What do you expect for Wednesday's match?
"It's probably not going to be a pretty match from the Sounders perspective. I would imagine that they are probably going to cede a lot of possession and they'll probably going to be looking to get out on the counter more."
"My assumption would be that they'll (Seattle) keep it pretty tight. They're going to try to not get caught up in the high pressure from Sporting Kansas City, and try to exploit the high line."
Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes was a guest on Soccer Matters with Glenn Davis on Tuesday night, discussing Kei Kamara's return and the evolution of Sporting Kansas City he became head coach in 2009. Click here to listen to the segment on ESPN 97.5 Houston ahead of the team's trip to take on the Dynamo this Sunday.
With the Sporting's 4-0 win over Chivas USA on Sunday, Vermes recorded his 50th regular season victory as KC's manager to tie Ron Newman for the second most in club history. Vermes, who will be inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame later this year, also moved into the Top 20 for wins among MLS coaches all-time...
Former Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza scored his first goal in the English Premier League on Tuesday, striking in first half stoppage time for Wigan Athletic in a 3-2 loss to Swansea City. Check out the volley below...
Espinoza was selected by Kansas City in the first round of the 2008 MLS SuperDraft out of Ohio State University and played five seasons in KC before leaving for England in January. The Honduran international appeared in 120 MLS matches for Sporting KC and was a 2012 MLS All-Star.
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 7, 2013
Sporting Kansas City will face the Seattle Sounders for the first time since the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final on Wednesday night at Sporting Park. Historically, it's been a series dominated by Seattle but the teams are currently on opposite ends of the standings (Sporting KC tied for 1st in East, Seattle last in the West).
Seattle will be without several players for Wednesday's match due to injuries and suspensions. DeAndre Yedlin and Lamar Neagle both were ejected against Philadelphia while Steve Zakuani, Obafemi Martins, and Shalrie Joseph are not expected to be available because of injuries. Osvaldo Alonso, who missed the last match to be with his wife for the birth of their child, is expected to be available for Wednesday.
The Sounders usually play a 4-4-2 but could make a few changes for Wednesday's match. In recent matches, Eddie Johnson has been partnered with Martins and Neagle (both not available for Wednesday's match) but the formation could shift to a 4-4-1-1 with Mauro Rosales playing a supporting striker role. The absence of Neagle and Martins leave Seattle stretched at the forward position, a spot in which Rosales has played in the past.
Style of Play
The number of players missing for Seattle and the fact its at Sporting Park will affect their approach to the match. Seattle are generally an attacking side that will use its speed on the wings (Zakuani, Yedlin) to create space for the forwards and attacking midfielders. Wednesday could see a much more counterattacking style with Seattle looking to be concede possession, remain sound defensively, and not get too exposed against Sporting KC.
Eddie Johnson - A familiar face to KC fans, EJ is a very athletic striker who has scored 16 goals in 32 regular season matches for Seattle.
Mauro Rosales - A creative midfielder who can provide assists and goals. The Argentine won the MLS Newcomer of the Year Award in 2011.
Osvaldo Alonso - The central midfielder has established himself as one of the best in MLS with his ability to defend and control the middle of the pitch.
|at Colorado Rapids (April 20th)||at Philadelphia (May 4th)|
Sporting Kansas City will face the Seattle Sounders for the eighth time in MLS (regular season) on Wednesday evening. This is the only regular season meeting between the two sides in 2013.
Sporting KC won the first meeting between the two teams back in 2009 and the most recent meeting on August 8, 2012 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final. In the last MLS regular season meeting, the two teams played to a 1-1 draw at CenturyLink Field on June 20, 2012.
All-Time Head To Head
Home Matches: 0-3-0 (4 goals scored, 7 goals conceded)
Away Matches: 1-2-1 (2 goals scored, 3 goals conceded)
|Sporting KC||Stat||Seattle Sounders|
|Claudio Bieler 6||GOALS||Eddie Johnson 2|
|Graham Zusi 4||ASSISTS||Mauro Rosales 2|
|Claudio Bieler 28||SHOTS||Eddie Johnson 13|
|Aurelien Collin 17||FOULS||DeAndre Yedlin 13|
|Jimmy Nielsen 18||SAVES||Michael Gspurning 20|
|Jimmy Nielsen 0.80||GAA||Michael Gspurning 1.00|
|Sporting KC||Seattle Sounders|
|Shots (on goal)||146 (43)||79 (23)|
|Fouls Committed (Suffered)||146 (151)||91 (85)|
|Duels Won (Avg)||51.7%||50.9%|
|Completed Passes (Avg)||435||428|
|Passing Accuracy (Avg)||77.3%||78.0%|
MLS Regular Season Meetings
Graham Zusi was named MLS Player of the Week on Monday for his performance in Sporting Kansas City's 4-0 win against Chivas USA. While his goal and game-winning assist garnered the votes, Opta shows that it was his playmaking ability that stood out on Sunday.
In 67 minutes of action, Graham Zusi logged five key passes against the Rojiblancos. No other player on the field was credited with more than one key pass, which Opta defines as "The final pass or pass-cum-shot leading to the recipient of the ball having an attempt at goal without scoring." In fact, Chivas USA only recorded one key pass as a team for the entire match (to Sporting Kansas City's 13).
The chalkboard shown on right illustrates Zusi's 26 successful passes, three headers, two set pieces and his goal on Sunday at Sporting Park. On the season, Zusi now has 34 chances created (including assists) which ranks most in MLS. He also led the League in this category in 2012 as an MVP finalist.
Major League Soccer 2013 Leaders (as of May 7)
|1. Zusi, Graham||34|
|2. Higuaín, Federico||29|
|3. Salinas, Shea||19|
|3. Kobayashi, Daigo||19|
|5. Ferreira, David||18|
|5. Henry, Thierry||18|
|7. Morales, Javier||17|
|7. Powers, Dillon||17|
|7. Mullan, Brian||17|
|7. Lee Young-Pyo||17|
Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen attended the Visitation Athletic Banquet in Kansas City on Monday. As the special guest speaker of the event, Nielsen addressed the middle schoolers and explained to them why he was such "a lucky man." The story touched on Nielsen's background as a soccer player and how he was asked to move to a new country (from Denmark to the United Kingdom) at the age of only 12 to play soccer.
The Sporting KC captain’s career may have started off quite fruitfully, but has had its share of turbulence along the way. Nielsen admittedly had one poor performance for Millwall after a handful of standout performances. After the match, Jimmy headed out to the bus only to notice it had left without him.
Nielsen went on explaining that it is the ups and downs of sport that help athletes recognize a good situation. And, according to Jimmy, that is exactly what he has in Kansas City.
Nielsen asked the audience questions about himself and Sporting KC throughout his presentation, providing tickets to Wednesday night's match against the Seattle Sounders for all correct answers. And, after he wrapped up the presentation, Jimmy signed autographs and took photos with all in attendance.
On his first day back from the English Premier League on Monday, it's hardly a surprise that Sporting KC forward Kei Kamara made a visit to chow down some long-coveted Chipotle. It was the entourage that accompanied him to Chipotle on the Plaza that has people talking as Kamara invited all his Twitter followers to join him for free burritos and then surprised them even further with Sporting KC tickets to his first match back at Sporting Park on Wednesday.
The video below captures the sights and sounds...
...and this Storify slideshow captures all the chatter as it unfolded on Twitter today.
Ike Opara started his second match of the season on Sunday for Sporting Kansas City and all in attendance got to know the fourth-year pro a little better thanks to the newest episode of On the Spot presented by The Parking Spot. The video (shown below) played at halftime on the Sporting Park videoboard -- which if you haven't been paying attention, is continuing to produce some of the best videos in Major League Soccer. Check out their YouTube channel here.
Still want to know more? Well, from the soccer side of life...
- Opara is 8-0-3 in his last 11 MLS regular season starts. The last time a team lost a regular season game with him in the starting lineup was April 16, 2011.
- Sporting KC has not allowed a goal or even a shot on goal in Opara's two starts this season. In fact, you have to go back six regular season appearances for Opara to find the last time a shot on goal was conceded with him on the field -- a span of 238 minutes.
It's time again for #VoteSporting as Sporting KC forward C.J. Sapong has been nominated for MLSSoccer.com Goal of the Week. Sapong's goal, his first of the season, was a clinical volley from a Mechack Jerome cross in the 87th minute of Sunday's 4-0 victory over Chivas USA.
You can watch the goal below and vote for C.J.'s goal by texting "G4" to 22442 or voting at the poll below.