Coming into the season Sporting KC were seen as strong playoff contenders, perhaps not a lock for one of the automatic playoff spots but definite widely regarded as a solid bet to make some noise in the Eastern Conference. That's not really how things have gone, and while it's early yet, but it seems safe to say that KC aren't going to be causing much concern for the teams at the top. With their horrific mark of 1-5-1 only coming 4 points (half the number of the second most hapless team in MLS, the Vancouver Whitecaps) and a league-worst -6 goal differential, Sporting KC have a massive hill to climb if they even hope to re-enter the playoff discussion.
There are extenuating circumstances (as there would almost have to be) and most notable is the fact that Kansas City have yet to play a game at home. LIVESTRONG Sporting Park won't be completed until June 9th and in order to make the most of the allure of a new stadium and the increased revenue that (hopefully0 comes along with it, the club elected to start the season with the mother of all road trips as opposed to finding a temporary venue. It was a decision that made some sense at the time, but one must imagine that the team's awful start has led to a great deal of second guessing. The team has also been without one of their more potent weapons inforward Omar Bravo for most of the season, and though he is expected to be available on Saturday he will almost certainly not be 90-minute-fit. But while circumstances might not have been exactly favorable so far, they don't excuse Sporting's slow start entirely.
Kansas City has been, quite frankly, a bad team in six of their first seven, winning their first game 3-2 over Chivas USA and gaining just one additional point the rest of the way in a 3-3 draw with Vancouver. But while Sporting have been legitimately poor, it's also important to note that all of their games save a 4-1 loss to LA Galaxy their last time out have been relatively close with narrow 1-0 losses to Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls standing out. Sporting have shown they can hang fairly close to quality teams and they've shown an ability to score goals against non-elite defensive clubs. Kansas City's troubles have come in terms of giving up goals rather than scoring them with their mark of 17 against tied for second worst in MLS. Unfortunately for Seattle, their mark against teams with decent attacks and poor defenses is not exactly sparkling, even at home.
Seattle should win this game; playing at home against the team that is bay far statistically the worst in the league should be a given for teams with aspirations as high as the Sounders. Still, almost no one believes that Sporting are as bad as they've shown to this point and something about the collection of attacking talent on their squad versus the Sounders lackluster offense, coming so close on the heels of the Timbers game, makes this one seem to have fairly massive trap potential. Teal Bunbury and Kei Kamara are both capable of turning games on their head at a moment's notice, and with a back four that's shown a tendency towards disorganization and a spotty record defending the counter-attack they'll be players to keep an eye on. More important than that though will be the Sounders attack against themselves. There are a lot of very frustrated players wearing rave green these days and their tendency to over-think things has been a huge problem. Unless the Kansas City team everyone expected at the beginning of the year suddenly decide to show up, the only way the Sounders are going to lose this game is to beat themselves.
On the injury front, Seattle expects Erik Friberg to be available to start, Mauro Rosales to be available and Brad Evans to be a game-time decision, though Sigi Schmid seemed to be leaning more towards his being out. With a game against FC Dallas on Wednesday, expect some changes from the regular rotation.