SEATTLE — If history is any indication, Sporting Kansas City are in trouble this weekend.
Over the past three seasons, the Seattle Sounders have created a reputation as streak-busters. In 2009, Roger Levesque’s early goal against Columbus broke that franchise’s 22-game unbeaten streak at home.
Earlier this season, Seattle gave the same treatment to Real Salt Lake, emerging from Rio Tinto with a victory that erased a 29-game home unbeaten streak.
Faced with Sporting Kansas City’s 14-match unbeaten streak, Seattle should not flinch. Even after a challenging overtime match Wednesday night against San Francisco FC of Panama, the Sounders will attempt to nullify Kansas City’s recent momentum on Saturday night at Livestrong Sporting Park (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“The good thing is Kansas City had to play tonight as well and they ended up playing a man down in the second half,” said head coach Sigi Schmid on Wednesday night, referring to a red card given to SKC’s Roger Espinoza. “They didn't get overtime minutes, but it is what it was.”
Fatigue will be a factor for Seattle. With game-time temperatures in Kansas City expected to be in the low 90s or high 80s, Schmid may need to get creative with the starting lineup. Seattle’s full-strength lineup played Wednesday, with many of those players logging the full 120 minutes.
Against a strong offensive team like Kansas City, getting the personnel in the back line correct will be a priority. Patrick Ianni sat out during the midweek game and may be ready to return. Left back Leo González played a strong game against San Francisco, helping the Sounders post a shutout. He may also play, if Tyson Wahl doesn’t find himself in the starting lineup.
Youngsters Lamar Neagle, Servando Carrasco and Mike Fucito would all be willing to step in, as would veteran and Schmid favorite Pat Noonan. However, predicting the team sheet for Saturday’s game is fraught with uncertainty.
What is known is that Seattle gained confidence from the midweek CCL match. After three consecutive losses, the players agreed it was good for the team to get back into the win column.
"I think it was very important because we know we have a good team, we have been doing very good job in the last five games,” said Rosales, “but after we lost [some games recently], we lost some confidence also. We have to get [that confidence] again.”