Sporting Kansas City-Sounders Preview
No team has lost fewer games than Sporting Kansas City, which is riding another hot streak.
The Seattle Sounders haven't won an MLS game in six weeks but certainly know how to play spoiler against Sporting.
Kansas City has won four straight in all competitions but is coming off a short break and a long trip West to face a Seattle team which has won five in a row in this series.
Another factor in favor of the Sounders - 0-3-2 in league play since winning May 9 at Dallas - is that Sporting might use star Kei Kamara sparingly, if at all. Kamara, tied for the team lead with five goals, played the full 90 minutes in both of his native Sierra Leone's World Cup qualifiers and then scored two goals Saturday when Sierra Leone advanced in its African Cup of Nations qualifier over Sao Tome e Principe.
"Well, we will see, because he is probably coming off a 48-hour plane trip," coach Peter Vermes said. "It's good that he will be back but at the same time, he is going to come back from a long trip so we will continue with the way we are going."
Kansas City (9-3-1), however, did fine without him Saturday in a 2-0 win over Toronto. C.J. Sapong scored his fifth goal off an assist from Jacob Peterson, who started in Kamara's place.
That started a span of seven games in three weeks, including a visit to Philadelphia on Saturday and a U.S. Open Cup match next Tuesday.
"We have to take care of our bodies and really rest when we can. It's a tough stretch," Peterson said. "... We still have two big games on the road and we need to get points from them."
Kamara opened the scoring in the last matchup with the Sounders on Aug. 7, but Sporting gave up goals in the 90th minute and injury time to lose 2-1 and have a club-record 14-match unbeaten streak snapped. A second-half stoppage time goal also gave Seattle a 1-0 home win over Kansas City in the first meeting last season.
The Sounders (7-4-3) have won all five games in this series since losing the first one - at home April 11, 2009.
Kansas City, though, is 2-0-1 in its last three MLS games and has won four in a row overall including two recent U.S. Open Cup victories.
The Sounders won back-to-back U.S. Open Cup games - neither against an MLS team - before losing 4-1 at Montreal on Saturday.
Fredy Montero fed Eddie Johnson for Seattle's only goal, but that came after the team trailed 3-0 and was reduced to 10 men with Jhon Kennedy Hurtado being sent off in the 57th minute.
"To be frank, it's embarrassing to lose like that," defender Zach Scott said. "I mean, to be down a man and then start to play? That can't happen.
"We've got to go home and figure it out."
Seattle, though, has been handed shutout losses in its last two home games. The Sounders remain without top scorer David Estrada following foot surgery.
Sporting's Graham Zusi, meanwhile, is tied with D.C.'s Dwayne De Rosario for the league lead with eight assists after Julio Cesar scored off his corner kick Saturday.
"It's more just a testament to my teammates, my passing plays less than half the part," Zusi said. "A lot of guys on this team are a force to be reckoned with in the air."