Sounders-Sporting Kansas City Preview

After recording yet another clean sheet over the weekend,
Sporting Kansas City’s Jimmy Nielsen surpassed Tony Meola for the
most in club history.

Nielsen, though, has never defeated the Seattle Sounders.

Nielsen and Sporting KC try to snap a six-game winless stretch
against the visiting Sounders when these clubs square off Wednesday
night.

Fourth in the league with 0.80 goals allowed per game, Nielsen
didn’t have to make any saves in posting his franchise-record 38th
shutout Sunday in a 4-0 rout of Chivas USA. Forward Claudio Bieler
notched his MLS best-tying fifth and sixth goals while midfielder
Graham Zusi scored and added an assist.

“They made it very easy,” the 35-year-old Nielsen said of his
teammates. “If they continue like that, I can play until I’m
44.”

Nielsen, who had recorded five consecutive shutouts before
allowing a combined five goals over the previous two games, leads
the league with six clean sheets – two more than Dallas’ Raul
Fernandez.

“Jimmy will tell you that he doesn’t care about (records) at the
end of the day,” coach Peter Vermes told the club’s official
website. “What he wants is another championship with the team and
wants the MLS Cup. That’s what the rest of us are striving for. If
he keeps getting those, he will help put us in the right position
where hopefully we can win.”

Kansas City (5-3-2) improved to 8-1-3 at home dating to August,
but it’s had its hands full with Seattle (1-3-3) over the years.
Since taking the first matchup 1-0 on April 11, 2009, Sporting KC
has been outscored 10-5 during an 0-5-1 stretch in the series.

Nielsen has started the last five of those contests, going 0-4-1
while allowing seven goals and making eight saves. He would,
however, appear to have a favorable matchup this time around
against a Sounders team averaging 0.71 goals – 17th in MLS.

Seattle opened a three-game road stretch with a 1-0 win over
Colorado on April 20, then played to a 2-all draw with Philadelphia
on Saturday. After setting up Eddie Johnson for the game’s first
goal, Mauro Rosales tied the score in the 64th minute.

“It’s something we wanted, that combination,” Rosales told the
Sounders’ official website. “We’re getting confidence with each
other. We expect more games like that.”

Johnson, who scored a team-record 15 goals last season, now has
two in four contests. Rosales also set a club mark with 13 assists
in 2012 but entered the weekend having posted just one.

“It’s good to see Mauro back out there playing the way we know
he is capable of playing,” said Johnson, who missed the previous
two games due to a hamstring injury. “We formed a chemistry in the
last two years. When he gets the ball out wide, he’s looking to put
it in the air where I can attack the ball.”

Rosales has a goal and two assists in three career matchups
versus Sporting KC.

Seattle is 4-7-9 over its last 20 road matches dating to last
May. The Sounders are 3-0-0 all-time at Kansas City but haven’t
visited since 2011.