Sounders get first point and first goals in 2-2 draw at Sporting Kansas City

Seattle Sounders (0-3-1, 1 pt) registered their first point and goals of the 2018 campaign on Sunday in a 2-2 draw with Sporting Kansas City (4-1-2, 14 pts) at Children’s Mercy Park. A late first-half equaliser from Will Bruin gave Seattle their first goal of the year and Cristian Roldan would give the visitors their first lead of the MLS season. Graham Zusi would bring the home side back level just five minutes later though and neither side would manage another breakthrough.

It was somewhat of a surprise to see Alex Roldan in the starting lineup just in front of Jordan McCrary but the rookie midfielder looked very good against the Western Conference leaders. The younger Roldan looked confident on the ball and helped to setup the attack that lead to Seattle’s second goal. Hopefully for Seattle this is not just a flash in the pan but a sign of things to come for the Seattle University alum.

Sounders fans were also treated to the return of Osvaldo Alonso from injury, coming on as a substitute in the 68th minute. With Alonso on the field for Handwalla Bwana, coach Brian Schmetzer pushed Cristian Roldan into an attacking position and brought Nicolas Lodeiro out wide which allowed Roldan to play more aggressively and ultimately lead to scoring the second goal. With Alonso on the field Seattle’s midfield looked more disciplined and structured defensively, something that was badly missing in their home loss to Montreal.

It was not such a great night for Nouhou who seemed to be a step slow all night, directly leading to both Sporting goals. The first goal came from a penalty kick conceded by a poor challenge from Nouhou while the second was due to him not getting back to stop Zusi.

The play starts with Nouhou making a long attacking run into space before hitting an ill-advised high shot from about 25 yards out. As Sporting restarted play, Nouhou doesn’t get back into position in time and leaves Zusi open on the wing. Even once Zusi receives the pass and is dribbling into the box, Nouhou doesn’t get back to mark his man and allows Zusi to walk in one-on-one against Frei and tie the match.

Sporting controlled possession for the majority of the match and forced Stefan Frei into making six saves compared to Tim Melia’s one but made defensive mistakes to let Seattle on the board against the run of play. While Seattle does well to keep the play alive after Bruin’s first chance clanked off the crossbar, Jimmy Medranda gets caught watching the ball on the second chance and allows Bruin to score on a tap in.

Although Seattle was unable to hold on to the lead, the second goal showed the Sounders’ potential in attack. Alex Roldan out plays Zusi on a long clearance to get to the ball and then makes a perfectly weighted outside-of-the-foot pass around a defender to Bruin. With a defender on him, Bruin has the wherewithal to pull the ball back and find Christian Roldan at the top of the box for a shot. Roldan is able to hit the ball with power while also placing it in the far corner, past the stretching arm of Melia.

Seattle is going to want to see more possessions like this next weekend when they host Minnesota United FC (2-4-0, 6 pts) on Sunday at 1 PM as they look to record their first win of the season.


MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: MLS Playoffs (Western Conference Knockout Round) – Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City 

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Thursday, October 27 – 22:00 ET (03:00 BST) 

Match Odds: Seattle 10/11 – Draw 12/5 – Sporting KC 14/5

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders host Sporting Kansas City in the MLS Cup Playoffs on Thursday night, with these two battling out in Western Conference Knockout Round at CenturyLink Field.

Few could have predicted Seattle would make the postseason, let alone hold home advantage, a few months ago. But the signing of Nicolas Lodeiro, coupled with interim head coach Brian Schmetzer taking over from Sigi Schmid, has inspired the team since the summer.

The Sounders have marched into the playoffs and rounded off their regular season with a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Sunday. They enter the playoffs unbeaten in their last eight home games and are favourites to advance here.

Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake - Sounders score

The worry for the hosts is that they were outclassed by Sporting Kansas City twice during the regular season, losing both games by an aggregate scoreline of 4-0.

The visitors have almost flown under the radar but enter the playoffs in fairly good form, losing just one of their last six MLS games to round off the regular season.

They have an experienced squad of players, some of whom lifted the MLS Cup in 2013, and will fancy their chances despite being labelled as underdogs here.

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SKC have some really dangerous attacking players and know they can unlock this Seattle defence, having proven their threat already this year.

This will be the first ever playoff clash between these two sides. Sporting Kansas City have been eliminated in the Knockout Round in each of the past two seasons. The last time they advanced through the first stage, they went on to lift the title.

Team News

Seattle Sounders star Clint Dempsey remains out with a heart problem and is unlikely to play again in 2016, while Andreas Ivanschitz and Dylan Remick are both sidelined through injury.

Sporting Kansas City are without Diego Rubio for the season, while Justin Mapp, Chance Myers and Brad Davis are all listed as ‘questionable’ ahead of Thursday’s game.

Key Points

Seattle Sounders’ last five: W/W/D/L/W

Sporting Kansas City’s last five: D/W/L/D/W

Key Stat: Sporting KC are unbeaten in their last five meetings with Seattle in MLS (W3 D2), conceding just one goal against their opponents in that time.

Key Player: Nicolas Lodeiro – It’s impossible to highlight anyone else other than Lodeiro as the key man for this clash. The Uruguayan playmaker has been sensational since joining MLS in August and is the main reason behind the Sounders’ resurgence during the late stages of the regular season. His creativity will be vital if the home side are to advance to the Conference Semifinals on Thursday evening.

Photo: Max Aquino

Photo: Max Aquino

Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 2-1 Sporting Kansas City – This is likely to be the closest of all the midweek Knockout Round clashes to start the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. Both sides are capable of winning this contest and will fancy their chances of going all the way if they can get through here. Seattle have home advantage on their side and have looked very impressive in recent weeks, but Sporting KC have big-game experience and will know how to cope with the occasion. This could go to extra-time, but ultimately, Seattle should edge it.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Sporting Kansas City vs DC United

Competition: Major League Soccer – Sporting Kansas City vs. DC United

Venue: Children’s Mercy Park – Friday, May 27 – 21:30 ET (02:30 BST)

Match Odds: Sporting KC 3/4 – Draw 5/2 – DC United 4/1

Match Preview

Sporting Kansas City welcome DC United to Children’s Mercy Park on Friday night as seventh in the West face off against seventh in the East.

Both sides have endured slow starts to the 2016 campaign and know that Friday night’s game offers a fantastic opportunity to take three points and start to climb their respective conferences.

Sporting KC have only won one of their last nine and are in real trouble. They fell 3-1 at home to Real Salt Lake last weekend and have now lost three of their last four.

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Peter Vermes and his players need to bounce back very quickly. The home fans will see Friday’s game as a winnable fixture and they will likely see nothing other than three points as success.

DC United have four less points than SKC at this stage but they have not lost back-to-back games all season and their biggest problem seems to be putting the ball in the net.

They lost 1-0 at Philadelphia last time out and have now failed to score in three of their last six. They have yet to win away from home and don’t look like a side ready to make a charge up the table.

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Both sides are really struggling but that should make for an entertaining game as neither can afford to take this game lightly.

This will be the 35th MLS meeting between the two established sides. DC are unbeaten in four-straight games against SKC and will hope to extend that run to five come the end of play on Friday.

Team News

Sporting KC will be without Roger Espinoza as he will serve a one-game suspension. Kevin Ellis remains out injured, while Seth Sinovic is a doubt and is unlikely to make the starting lineup.

DC will be without five players through injuries. Andrew Dykstra, Bill Hamid, Chris Korb, Collin Martin and Chris Rolfe are all sidelined and so Ben Olsen is without a couple of key men at a crucial time of the season.

Key Points

Sporting Kansas City’s last five: D/L/L/W/L

DC United’s last five: W/D/L/W/L

Key Stat: Road block – DC United are averaging just 0.55 goals per game away from home since the start of last season – the worst record in MLS.

Key Player: Dom Dwyer – Dwyer has scored two of SKC’s last three goals and looks to be the side’s only chance of success during this tough spell. If he is on form, the home side will likely leave with three points.

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Score Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 1-1 DC United – There is very little to choose between these out-of-form sides. Both are expected to go for all three points but with neither in good shape, they could well cancel each other out. A draw won’t really help either side, but that looks the most likely result.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Colorado Rapids vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – Colorado Rapids vs. Sporting Kansas City

Venue: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – Wednesday, May 11 – 21:00 ET (02:00 GMT) 

Match Odds: Colorado 19/20 – Draw 12/5 – Kansas City 3/1

Match Preview

Colorado Rapids welcome Sporting Kansas City to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Wednesday evening in the first outing of a double gameweek for both of these sides.

Colorado are in fine form as they sit top of the Western Conference and lead the way in the Supporters’ Shield standings by two points.

Pablo Mastroeni will be delighted with how his side have performed so far this season. They come into this tie off the back of their 1-0 home win against Real Salt Lake, which was their 5th consecutive home win of the 2016 campaign. They have scored eight goals in that run and only conceded two.

The Rapids will be full of confidence heading into the game. They are unbeaten in their last six games and have won the last three meetings between the sides, including their 2-1 win over SKC earlier in the season.

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Sporting Kansas City are experiencing a difficult patch of form. They come into this tie off the back of their 2-0 away loss to Houston.

SKC won their first two away games of 2016 but are winless in four on the road since then, losing three and drawing one. They have scored five goals in those six away games.

Peter Vermes will be disappointed with how recent results have gone and his side now sit 6th in the Western Conference, which is disappointing considering they had won four of their first five games in the 2016 regular season.

Sporting Kansas City haven’t won any of their last six games, their longest winless run since 2011 where that tally extended to ten games, something the SKC fans will be fearing could happen again.

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Team News

Colorado Rapids have three injury concerns ahead of this tie as Sean St Ledger, Eric Miller and Marco Pappa all look set to miss out.

Sporting Kansas City have just the two injury concerns. Kevin Ellis is out, while Soni Mustivar is a doubt. Neither of the sides have any players suspended or nearing suspension.

Key Points

Colorado Rapids’ form: W/W/W/D/W

Sporting Kansas City’s form: L/L/D/D/L

Key Stat: Colorado have won all five of their home games so far this season, which is the same amount they managed in all of their home games in the 2015 campaign.

Key Player: Jermaine Jones – The Rapids midfielder has been a great addition to their squad. He has netted three goals in his four appearances so far this season and is one of the league’s most complete midfielders.

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Score Prediction

Colorado Rapids 2-0 Sporting Kansas City – The Rapids are in a fine run of form and face a SKC side who seem to be lacking confidence. Given how good Colorado have been at home this season it would be surprising to see anything other than three points once again at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for Mastroeni’s side.

MLS Preview and Prediction: San Jose Earthquakes vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – San Jose Earthquakes vs. Sporting Kansas City

Venue: Avaya Stadium – Sunday, April 24 – 15:30 ET (20:30 BST)

Match Odds: San Jose 21/20 – Draw 9/4 – Kansas City 14/5 

Match Preview

San Jose Earthquakes welcome Western Conference rivals Sporting Kansas City to Avaya Stadium this weekend.

The Quakes are sitting 6th in the West and come into this tie off the back of their 3-1 away loss against Portland Timbers last time out.

Dominic Kinnear’s side are unbeaten in their last nine home Major League Soccer outings, so they will be looking to bounce back here and continue their great run of home form.

San Jose have won the last two meetings between the sides, scoring six goals along the way, so the Quakes faithful have the bragging rights over SKC heading into this tie.

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Sporting Kansas City are sitting 4th in the West coming into the weekend but there is room for improvement, as they have lost their last two.

Their last outing saw them fall 2-1 away to FC Dallas, a disappointing result for SKC after they had taken the lead.

Peter Vermes will be more than aware of how tough this tie will be and will have his side best prepared to not throw points away this time out.

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Team News

San Jose Earthquakes have six injury concerns heading into this tie. Marc Pelosi, Cordell Cato, Jordan Stewart, Chad Barrett, Clarence Goodson and Mark Sherrod are all expected to miss out. The Quakes currently have no players nearing suspension.

Sporting Kansas City have one less injury concern than their opponents for this tie. Justin Mapp, Soni Mustivar, Kevin Ellis and Chance Myers are all expected to miss out, while Paulo Nagamura is a doubt. Kansas City also have no players nearing suspension.

Key Points

San Jose Earthquakes’ form: L/D/D/W/L

Sporting Kansas City’s form: W/L/W/L/L

Key Stat: San Jose Earthquakes are unbeaten in their last 17 home matches against Sporting Kansas City in all competitions.

Key Player: Chris Wondolowski – ‘Wondo’ has been in magnificent form so far this season, bagging himself six goals in his seven appearances. He will be looking to continue his fine run of goalscoring form against SKC this weekend.
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Score Prediction

San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Sporting Kansas City – San Jose to continue their impressive home record against Kansas City as they look to force their way up the Western Conference.

MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – FC Dallas vs Sporting Kansas City

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Sunday, April 17 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: FC Dallas 8/11 – Draw 11/4 – Kansas City 15/4

Match Preview

FC Dallas host Sporting Kansas City at Toyota Stadium on Sunday night in a clash between two sides at the very top of the Western Conference.

FC Dallas impressed in the first outing of their double game week on Wednesday, winning 3-1 away against Portland Timbers in a tie that saw them net three times within the first half hour.

Oscar Pareja’s side are top of the Western Conference and lead the Supporters’ Shield standings heading into the weekend. Their home form has been impeccable and they have scored at least twice in ten of their last 11 outings in front of their own fans.

Dallas won the last meeting between the sides at Toyota Stadium 3-1 and will be hoping they can repeat that result this time around to remain top of the pile at this early stage of the campaign.

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Sporting Kansas City suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to Colorado Rapids in the first outing of their double game week on Wednesday evening in what was a surprise result.

They dropped from top of the West to second and now trail Dallas by two points heading into this tie. Peter Vermes will be ruing his side’s late lapse of concentration after they had levelled against Colorado before then throwing away a share of the points.

SKC will be feeling confident heading into this tie as they have won the last three meetings between the side’s in all competitions, scoring 13 times in those matches.

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Team News

FC Dallas have just two injury concerns heading into this tie as Alex Zendejas and Mauro Diaz are both expected to miss out. Carlos Gruezo is one caution away from suspension and will need to watch his step.

Sporting Kansas City have seven injury concerns. Justin Mapp, Soni Mustivar, Kevin Ellis and Chance Myers are all expected to miss out, while Brad Davis, Matt Besler and Paulo Nagamura are all doubts. Key players Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber started Wednesday’s game on the bench but should both start from the outset here.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ form: W/W/D/D/W

Sporting Kansas City’s form: W/W/L/W/L

Key Stat: FC Dallas are unbeaten in their last 11 MLS matches at Toyota Stadium.

Key Player: Tesho Akindele – The Dallas forward has netted three in six so far this season including the third for his side in midweek and looks to be in good shape. He will want to add to his tally here and fire Dallas to success once more.

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Score Prediction

FC Dallas 2-1 Sporting Kansas City – FC Dallas look set to inflict a second loss in as many matches on Sporting Kansas City and remain top of the Western Conference. They are a real force, particularly at home, and have to be fancied above Sporting KC to take all three points on Sunday.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Sporting Kansas City vs Colorado Rapids

Competition: Major League Soccer – Sporting Kansas City vs. Colorado Rapids

Venue: Sporting Park – Wednesday, April 13 – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)

Match Odds: Sporting KC 5/6 – Draw 12/5 – Colorado 7/2

Match Preview

Sporting Kansas City welcome Colorado Rapids to Sporting Park in an all-Western Conference clash on Wednesday evening. 

SKC are leading the way in the Supporters’ Shield standings after their impressive start to the season which has seen them lose just the once. They take on FC Dallas this coming weekend and will be hoping to continue their run of form by taking maximum points in this double gameweek.

Peter Vermes’ side come into this one off the back of their solid 2-0 away win over New York Red Bulls on Saturday and will be brimming with confidence. SKC have been solid at the back so far this season and opponents have struggled to breach their defence.

Last season’s meeting at Sporting Park saw Sporting Kansas City’s suffer their first home loss to Colorado since 2002, ending a 15-game unbeaten streak against the Rapids.

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Colorado have had a solid start to the 2016 regular season and are sitting sixth, in a playoff spot, in the Western Conference as a result.

Pablo Mastroeni’s side have won two, drawn one and lost two of their five fixtures so far. They come into this one off the back of their 1-0 loss away at Real Salt Lake last time out and will be hoping to bounce back immediately.

The Rapids won two of the three meetings between these sides last season, but as previously mentioned they have historically struggled away against SKC. If Mastroeni’s side can take a win from this game it will go a long way to showing Rapids fans they are capable of putting their away struggles against SKC to an end.

Colorado’s next fixture sees them take on New York Red Bulls at home. Rapids fans will be optimistic about taking two positive results out of this double gameweek and continue building towards a push for the playoffs.

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Team News

Sporting Kansas City could be without up to five players through injury. Justin Mapp, Matt Besler, Brad Davis and Soni Mustivar are all expected to miss out, while Paulo Nagamura is a doubt.

Colorado Rapids are also expecting to be without five through injury. Sean St.Ledger, John Berner, Kevin Doyle, Jared Watts and Marlon Hairston are all out. Jermaine Jones is serving the final game of his ban he picked up in last season’s playoffs and so his debut is not too far away.

Key Points

Sporting Kansas City’s last five: W/W/W/L/W

Colorado Rapids’ last five: L/W/D/W/L

Key Stat: Sporting Kansas City and Colorado Rapids have the joint best defensive records so far this season, with both sides only conceding three goals in their five outings respectively.

Key Player: Dom Dwyer – The SKC forward has got off a strong scoring start this campaign, with three in five. He netted in his side’s win last weekend and will be looking to cause the Rapids trouble in this midweek clash.

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Score Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 2-1 Colorado Rapids – Despite Colorado ending their winless run away against SKC they are likely to struggle here considering how strong the home side have been at the start of this season. As the saying goes, old habits die hard.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New York Red Bulls vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York Red Bulls vs. Sporting Kansas City 

Venue: Red Bull Arena – Saturday, April 9 – 19:00 EDT (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: New York Red Bulls 1/1 – Draw 5/2 – Sporting Kansas City 13/5

Match Preview

New York Red Bulls welcome Sporting Kansas City to Red Bull Arena on Saturday night with the hosts looking to end a sorry run of form which has seen them lose three of their first four matches of the new season.

They are yet to keep a clean sheet and all of their goals this season came in the 4-3 win over Houston Dynamo. Furthering their problems, Felipe will miss the game through suspension and star striker Bradley Wright-Phillips is yet to score this term.

However, the most worrying problems seem to be the lack of defensive options available as four first-team defenders are injured in some way and Karl Ouimette is the only fit central defender available to Jesse Marsch.

Jesse Marsch New York Red Bulls

Turning things around this weekend looks a tough ask for the Red Bulls, though the home support should give their chances a significant boost.

Sporting Kansas City on the other hand started the season with a 100% record until the 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake last weekend.

They have so far scored in every game and have quickly set themselves a good platform for success this season.

Their early-season form will need to carry on if SKC are to challenge at the top end of the Western Conference and they will fancy their chances of beating an injury-plagued Red Bulls team here.

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They have a huge upcoming month with three of their next four fixtures away from home. So this clash is the start of a tough run for the Kansas City squad.

These sides met just once last term, playing out a 1-1 draw in Kansas City. The Red Bulls won the most recent meeting at Red Bull Arena in the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs, before SKC were transferred back over to the Western Conference.

Team News

New York Red Bulls will be without three first team defenders as their defensive crisis continues to cause Jesse Marsch serious selection problems. Damien Perrinelle, Gideon Baah and Ronald Zubar are all still out, while Kemar Lawrence is a doubt with a knee injury picked up last week. Gonzalo Veron is also out and Felipe is suspended after being sent off against New England Revolution.

Sporting Kansas City are missing Justin Mapp and defensive star Matt Besler. Paulo Nagamura is a doubt with a calf strain.

Key Points

New York Red Bulls’ form: L/L/W/L

Sporting Kansas City’s form: W/W/W/L

Key Stat: Including postseason meetings, SKC have failed to beat the Red Bulls on the last six occasions. The Red Bulls have won four of those last six meetings.

Key Player: Dom Dwyer – English-born striker Dwyer is the lone attacker in SKC’s current system and the impressive start to the season has shown signs that he will have plenty of service this year. It’s only a matter of time before they start flying in regularly for Dwyer and he will be a threat here.

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Score Prediction

New York Red Bulls 2-2 Sporting Kansas City – After a good start from SKC and a poor start from Red Bulls, this clash is hard to call. We are expecting goals and quite an even battle. However, the Red Bulls’ defensive options are limited and SKC will set out to earn three points. A score draw looks likely, though this really could go either way.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Sporting Kansas City vs Vancouver Whitecaps

Competition: Major League Soccer – Sporting Kansas City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

Venue: Children’s Mercy Park – Saturday, March 12 – 20:30 ET (01:30 GMT)

Match Odds: Sporting Kansas City 19/20 – Draw 12/5 – Vancouver Whitecaps 3/1

Match Preview

Sporting Kansas City take on the Vancouver Whitecaps in an all Western Conference MLS clash at Sporting Park on Saturday night.

SKC picked up an excellent 1-0 away win against the Seattle Sounders in their opening game last weekend thanks to an unlikely debut goal from centre-back Nuno Coelho.

Although the Sounders were reduced to ten men after 41 minutes, Peter Vermes will still be delighted to see his side pick up an extremely valuable three points at a ground where few teams tend to win in MLS.

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It should mean that SKC will be heading into this game full of confidence, and will be looking to win their first two games of an MLS season for the first time since 2012.

Vancouver Whitecaps provided one of the most entertaining games of the opening weekend, although they will be disappointed to be on the wrong end of a five-goal thriller as they lost 3-2 at home to Montreal Impact.

Goals from defenders Jordan Harvey and Kendall Watson couldn’t prevent a disappointing defeat, and the Whitecaps players have to quickly dust themselves down in preparation for a tough away game.

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Carl Robinson’s side have won just one of their last nine games in MLS (D3, L5), carrying over results from 2015, so he will be hoping they can find some form, starting here.

Sporting Kansas City won both games against Vancouver Whitecaps in 2015, with the most recent clash ending 4-3 in a pulsating contest at Sporting Park in August – the other victory was a narrow 1-0 success at BC Place in July.

Team News

Sporting Kansas City have a whole host of injury concerns. They are likely to be without defenders Ike Opara (thigh) and Seth Sinovic (neck), while midfielders Justin Mapp (toe), Brad Davis (groin), Benny Feilhaber (abdomen) and Paulo Nagamura (leg) are also expected to miss out.

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Vancouver Whitecaps won’t be able to call upon the injured Christian Dean (foot) and Russell Teibert (calf). Octavio Rivero was the club’s top goalscorer in 2015 and will be looking to open his account for 2016. He managed six shots, with four on-target last weekend, but to no avail.

Key Points

Sporting Kansas City’s MLS form: W

Vancouver Whitecaps’ MLS form: L

Key Stat: Vancouver Whitecaps have never won away at Sporting Kansas City (D1, L2).

Key Player: Dom Dwyer – SKC will be desperate for their striker to start firing on all cylinders this year. He was the leading goalscorer at the club last season with 12 goals, but you feel that any true success this year could hinge on what Dwyer can produce for his side. They’ll be hopeful he can contribute a number of goals closer to the 22 he scored in 2014. The first home game of the new season may provide the perfect platform.

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Score Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 2-2 Vancouver Whitecaps – SKC have never lost a game at home to the Whitecaps and will be full of confidence after their opening day win. But Vancouver have a potent attacking force and will believe they can take at least a point from this one. Whatever the outcome, this should be an entertaining clash.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Sunday, March 6 – 19:00 ET (00:00 GMT) 

Match Odds: Seattle 5/6 – Draw 5/2– Kansas City 16/5

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders kick off their 2016 campaign by welcoming Western Conference rivals Sporting Kansas City to CenturyLink Field on Sunday evening.

Both these sides fell short in the playoffs last season. Reaching the 2016 playoffs will be the minimum requirement once again and both sides can send out a real signal of intent here.

The Sounders will be looking to improve on last season’s fourth place finish in the Western Conference and a key start to the campaign is vital for getting early points on the board.

Sigi Schmid will be relatively pleased with Seattle’s preseason – they won their last two games after struggling with three consecutive defeats. Preseason can’t be looked into in too much depth as it doesn’t compare to the intensity of the real action, so it will be interesting to see how Seattle get going here.

Their two CONCACAF Champions League games against Club America will have helped preparations despite crashing out 5-3 on aggregate.

Sounders started the 2015 campaign with a 3-0 win and will look to replicate that this weekend. Their midseason wobble, where they lost six in seven games, probably cost them the Supporters’ Shield – they cannot afford a repeat of that this time around.

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas Fans

Sporting Kansas City struggled to get going in their 2015 campaign. It took them four attempts to get their first win and they will be looking to get off to a flyer here in what is a tricky opener.

Kansas City are unbeaten in their last three outings against Seattle, winning one and drawing two, and a win here would be a remarkable confidence booster to get things going for their 2016 regular season.

Peter Vermes’ side had an unbeaten preseason and will be looking to use that momentum heading into this tie. They finished 6th in the Western Conference last season and will be looking to improve on that and challenge for the Supporters’ Shield this time around.

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Team News

Seattle Sounders have no injury concerns heading into the new campaign. The squad has undergone a little reshape though. The departure of Obafemi Martins will be a big role to fill and it appears Schmid is entrusting Jordan Morris with that task. He penned the highest paid contact for a homegrown player in Major League Soccer history so big things are expected from him. Joevin Jones and Michael Farfan will be hoping to make their Sounders debuts.

Sporting Kansas City will also be pleased not to have any major injuries heading into this one. However Ike Opara and Graham Zusi are doubts after picking up knocks towards the end of preseason. The squad has had minimal change which could be a plus for them this season, as players will continue to develop a great understanding of each other on the field. New signings Justin Mapp and Brad Davis will hope to feature.

Key Points

Seattle Sounders’ preseason form: L/L/L/W/W

Sporting Kansas City’s preseason form: W/D/D/D

Key Stat: Goals – Seattle have scored at least two goals in six of their last seven home Major League Soccer outings.

Key Player: Clint Dempsey – The obvious choice! Dempsey is easily the Sounders’ key man, as he makes them tick. His role in an injury-hit 2015 campaign was still immense. In the 20 games he featured in, Seattle only lost three times and he contributed to them finding the net 20 times, with ten goals and ten assists.

Forward Clint Dempsey celebrates his second goal after scoring from close range on a corner kick. All images courtesy of Sounders FC Communications. Photo: Jane Gershovich.

Forward Clint Dempsey celebrates his second goal after scoring from close range on a corner kick. Image courtesy of Sounders FC Communications. Photo: Jane Gershovich.

Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 2-1 Sporting Kansas City – Seattle to start their 2016 regular season with a win. They won their last two games of preseason before their Champions League clashes, and they will have put them into good shape. The Sounders should make home advantage count in an action packed game. The last meeting between these sides was a 0-0 draw and Seattle will not want to continue their winless run against SKC in an important opener.