Seattle are a good bet in their Western Conference clash with Sporting Kansas City this weekend.
It’s always a good idea to check out the main sportsbook sites (see our online sportsbook reviews here) to get a feel for the way the market is going and it seems clear that bookies are banking heavily on Seattle ahead of this game. The Sounders are -140 favorites, while Sporting Kansas City can be backed at +400 and if you favor the draw, that is priced at around +280.
Seattle was at the bottom of the Western Conference standings after three losses in April, but they have since improved with a run of four victories and a draw in their last six games. At Lumen Field, the Sounders have defeated Minnesota, Charlotte, and Vancouver. They have also picked up a decisive victory in Houston and drawn 1-1 at home with MLS-leading LAFC.
Most significant has been their defensive resurgence, which has seen them give up just four goals in their previous six games, in the process moving them up to sixth in the West, three points behind Nashville but with two games in hand over their rivals.
The Sounders, one of the MLS’s most tenacious teams, appear to have fully recovered from their early-season Champions League efforts and a series of injuries, and they are expected to compete fiercely for the remainder of the regular season.
Sporting Kansas City, who had only won once in their previous twelve MLS games, picked up a much-needed and welcome 2-1 victory over Nashville over the weekend.
They are no longer in the bottom two of the Western Conference thanks to that victory, but there is still much work to be done before they can return to their more comfortable position in the play-off zone.
And it’s not difficult to identify the problem. They are the first team in MLS history to find themselves in the unenviable position of being able to field neither of their Designated Players – Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda – due to injury. Along with being the franchise’s top stars and the two most expensive players in its history, Kinda and Pulido are also the two most important attacking players on the team. Kansas’ goal total in their absence is the third lowest in all of Major League Soccer.
These two teams have been frequent opponents ever since Seattle Sounders entered MLS in 2009. In total, they have faced off 29 times in the previous 13 years, with a fairly even head-to-head record.
Seattle has prevailed in this matchup 10 times, compared to Kansas’ twelve victories and seven draws; however, Kansas has recently outperformed Seattle, winning four of their previous five games.
In their most recent meeting, which took place at Lumen Field in October of last year, Kansas ran out as 2-1 winners thanks to a goal scored by Johnny Russell with ten minutes remaining.
Compared to earlier in the season, Seattle’s team news is much more encouraging. Stefan Cleveland returned to the bench for the match against LAFC and might be in line for some playing time here although Joao Paulo is still out while recovering from a tear in his right ACL and Yeimar Gomez Andrade is also sidelined due to a hamstring issue.
Raul Ruidiaz is tied with Freddie Montero for the most regular-season goals scored by a Seattle player. If healthy, he might break the record tonight, though after missing the LAFC match due to a muscle ailment, he might be rested.
With Pulido, Kinda, and Ozzie Cisneros still recovering from various injury issues, Uri Rosell, who had been suspended after being sent off in the 2-1 loss to New England Revolution, and Jake Davis, who had been sidelined with an adductor muscle issue, may both start this match after being named on the bench for the victory over Nashville. Nikola Vujnovic has also resumed training and may also be available.
After a rocky start, Seattle is once again moving in the right direction, showing once again the resilience that has been a feature of their record in Major League Soccer.
Sporting Kansas’ recent success against the Sounders and their convincing victory in Nashville last time out may give their fans some optimism going into this game but Seattle is a tougher opponent currently on a marked upward curve.
Given their own offensive shortcomings, the visitors will probably struggle to penetrate one of MLS’s stronger defenses and the best that Kansas can realistically hope for here is an improved performance to give coach Peter Vermes and the fans some indication that they are moving in the right direction.