Saturday, March 05, 2016

Match Day 1: 2016 Really Begins

The preseason is over and tomorrow Sporting KC take the field for their first game of the 2016 regular season against the Seattle Sounders. The match will be the second time in the last three years that Sporting KC has opened against the Sounders. KC lost the 2014 season opener to the Sounders 1-0 on late Chad Barrett goal. The late goal, a staple of KC vs Seattle games was yet another gut punch in a history or late gut punches by Seattle in games against KC.

While KC is getting ready for their first game of the season, the Sounders have already played two competitive games. The Sounders were in the knock out phase of the CONCACAF Champions League against Mexican side Club America. The Sounders took the lead twice in their home leg but twice allowed equalizers, one after just a minute of play as the first leg ended 2-2. In the second leg the Sounders again took a 1-0 lead but allowed an equalizer only a minute later and then gave up the lead before half time was even reached. The Sounders ended up falling 3-1 in the second leg and 5-3 on aggregate. Seattle did make it through the series with only one injury that will affect Sunday, Erik Friberg who is being monitored for a concussion and could miss the game. His absence will be felt for the Sounders who would in turn have to start journeyman Nathan Sturgis or 20 year old Cristian Roldan in his spot.

Kansas City has a few more knocks that they're dealing with that could have an effect on the lineup come tomorrow. Sporting currently have five players listed as questionable on this week's injury report including three players that you'd expect to start tomorrow if they're healthy, Brad Davis, Benny Feilhaber, and Seth Sinovic. I'd expect at least one, if not more of those three to be able to go tomorrow, but they're sitting out since it is so early would not be a surprise either. The other surprise in the lineup appears that it could be Jordi Quintilla playing in the defensive midfield position. Quintilla spent time there in preseason with Kansas City and could be in line for the start tomorrow.

Peterson - Dwyer - Zusi
Feilhaber - Espinoza
Dia - Besler - Coelho - Myers 

Number to Remember - 12-5-3 - Sporting's record in season openers over the 20 prior seasons for Kansas City. Their 0-1-1 over the last two years including the 1-0 loss to Seattle in the 2014 opener.

 Key Match Up - Dom Dwyer vs Chad Marshall - The Seattle center back had a good seven inches on Sporting's center back. With the new wingers for Kansas City designed for more crosses the match up between the two will be interesting. Dwyer has won contests with guys that are plenty bigger than him, but Dwyer able to get away from him and matched up against Brad Evans instead would certainly work to his advantage.

PREDICTION - This will be a good test for both teams right out of the gate. Kansas City will have to deal with Seattle's three forwards of Clint Dempsey, Nelson Valdez, and Jordan Morris. While that doesn't include the Nigerian Obafemi Martins it is still going to be a hand full for Sporting's back line to deal with. For Seattle, it's having to deal with a bit of a change in style for Sporting KC as they do more work down the wings and crossing instead of the cutting in that as they did a lot last year. KC has the players that can create chances, the big question will be whether they can get enough finishes out of all those chances created. That said with this being the first game of the season I think both teams will be hesitant to show too much and there will be a lot of feeling out.

SKC - 0
SEA - 1 (Dempsey)

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