Trying to stay within touching distance of Western Conference leader Los Angeles FC, the Seattle Sounders look to at least push their unbeaten streak to seven matches Sunday when they face Sporting Kansas City.
The Sounders (7-5-1) are five points back of LAFC, though they have a match in hand. Seattle has two wins and four draws in its last six matches and coming off a scoreless draw at Philadelphia on May 18 that capped a run of three matches in seven days. Brian Schmetzer made five changes to the side that defeated Orlando City SC – the Sounders were content to grind out a road point as they were outshot 22-6 and had only two shots on target.
Stefan Frei made six saves for his fifth shutout as Schmetzer’s five-man back that included Jonathan Campbell making his team debut defended stoutly and compactly.
“If you look at this sheet of paper, statistically it wasn’t a good game for us and you have to credit Jim Curtin and the Union, they controlled large parts of the game,” Schmetzer said after the game. “It’s a monster performance. I don’t think there’s any team in the league that’s not going to take seven points in a week. Whatever this piece of paper says, we’re pleased.”
Schmetzer may have Will Bruin leading the line for a second straight game if first-choice striker Jordan Morris is again sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered in the win over Orlando City. Morris shares the team lead with four goals, but Nicolas Lodeiro – who has an MLS-best seven assists – has been an equal-opportunity supplier as four players have at least three goals.
Sporting Kansas City (2-5-4) is five points from the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and ahead of only Colorado. SKC’s winless drought reached seven matches (0-4-3) following their 1-1 draw at home versus Vancouver on May 18.
Krisztian Nemeth gave Sporting a 1-0 lead on 37 minutes, but he also caused a huge headache by being sent off for a studs-up challenge on Felipe Martins early in the second half. Sporting KC nearly held out for all three points but conceded a stoppage-time equalizer to Derek Cornelius.
Nemeth’s absence for this match to serve his red card suspension will be a huge blow to the offense since he leads the team with seven goals. The good news for coach Peter Vermes is he will have teenage starlet Gianluca Busio available for this match. The 16-year-old, who has three goals in just 340 minutes, had been representing the U.S. at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship, helping the Yanks reach the final.
The other good news was center back Matt Besler came through a full 90 minutes against Vancouver after missing three matches with a hamstring injury. Sporting KC, though, has recorded only one clean sheet on the season and gone nine matches without a shutout.
“Seattle is always a tough team to play because they always compete,” defender Matt Besler told Sports Radio 810 on Wednesday. “They have quite a few experienced players on their team still.”
Seattle took four of a possible six points from the two matches last season, including a 2-2 draw in Kansas City as Graham Zusi grabbed an equalizer for Sporting 12 minutes from time.
(Cristian Roldan photo courtesy Seattle Sounders FC official Twitter account)
(Gianluca Busio photo courtesy Ryan Weaver via Sam McDowell‘s official Twitter account)