On Sunday evening, the two top teams in the Western Conference will clash at Children’s Mercy Park, where Sporting Kansas City hosts the Seattle Sounders. While the home side searches for another win, the visitors will be hoping to bounce back.
This will be the second time that the pair have met in Major League Soccer this season. Back in late July, SKC returned from Seattle with all three points having won by three goals to one.
Sporting Kansas City – Hosts back on the up
After a minor blip that saw them go four games without tasting defeat, losing one and tying three, Sporting Kansas City are back on the right path. A fortnight ago, they made light work of beating the Chicago Fire at this venue, recording a shutout in the process, while things got even better last time out as they thrashed Minnesota United, scoring four goals and keeping another clean sheet on route to victory. SKC now searches for three home wins on the bounce.
Playing at home has suited the hosts this season, that’s for sure. They’ve picked up more home wins than anybody else in the west, losing just one of their 13 matches at Children’s Mercy Park. Seattle are strong, make no mistake about that, but Peter Vermes’ men will fancy themselves to get the job done, much as they did in the reverse fixture.
Expected Line-Up: Pending
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Seattle Sounders – Slipping?
While SKC have flourished in recent weeks, the Seattle Sounders have taken a slight backwards step, losing somewhat unexpectedly away against Real Salt Lake last time out in MLS, while they also came up short in the North & Central America League Cup Final just a few days ago, losing by three goals to two against Mexican outfit Leon, though they did fare better than Sunday’s hosts against such opposition. Back in August, SKC were beaten 6-1 by Leon.
The visitors, despite a few bad results, should still be confident ahead of this fixture. After all, they’re the best away team not just in the west but in all of Major League Soccer this season, winning 64% of their travelling fixtures.
Expected Line-Up: Pending
Expert Pick #1 – Both Teams to Score @-138
What we have here is not only two teams that are very good at picking up points, but two teams that are excellent at getting the ball in the back of the net on a regular basis. The hosts have scored in 100% of their home matches this season, while the Sounders have only failed to find the net on their travels on two occasions. For all the visitors are no weak side defensively, they’ve also kept just two clean sheets on the road, which doesn’t exactly bode well ahead of a match against the second highest scorers in the Western Conference. Add in that both found the net in the reverse fixture, coupled with the fact that both teams have scored in ten of SKC’s 13 home fixtures, and a bet on the both to notch on Sunday starts to really appeal.
Expert Pick #2 – Over 2.5 Goals @-129
Staying on the goal theme, supporting at least three goals to go in makes sense too. As touched on above, in their respective home and away games, neither side fails to hit the net often, while neither are really known for keeping clean sheets. Seattle have recorded just two in 11 road games, while the hosts have kept out their opponents in just three of their 13 home fixtures.
The fact there’s been an average of 3.23 expected goals produced when Sporting Kansas City plays in front of a home crowd further fuels the selection.
Expert Pick #3 – Raul Ruidiaz to Score @+188
The Peruvian failed to find the net last week, but he’s well worth sticking with this week, especially at rarely seen odds of +190. Seattle’s main man remains one of the deadliest in all of Major League Soccer. He’s on 14 goals for the campaign, while he’s about as good as it gets at firing off shots, averaging 3.5 per 90 minutes. We know that he’s a player for the big occasion, so throw in his average of 0.59 expected goals per 90 and the forward is worth supporting to regain the scoring thread against an SKC side that for all its qualities doesn’t keep an abundance of home clean sheets.
In this heavyweight clash, goals are forecast. Both have great scoring records, though neither have been tremendous at keeping clean sheets, so both teams ought to see this as an opportunity, as was the case when they shared four goals earlier in the campaign, and at the end of the day, we’re talking about two of the best not just in the west but in MLS overall, so expect fireworks.