First-place Sporting KC takes five-game unbeaten run into today’s match with Seattle

The Western Conference leaders will square off with the two-time defending Western Conference champions Sunday when first-place Sporting Kansas City (4-1-1, 13 points) hosts Seattle Sounders FC (0-3-0, 0 points) at 3 p.m. inside Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Tickets for the marquee matchup are available via SeatGeek.com or by calling 888-4KC-GOAL to purchase the Coca-Cola Sunday Family Four Pack , consisting of four tickets, four Coke products, four hot dogs and four bags of chips. Sunday’s game will be televised nationally on ESPN and broadcast locally on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM (Spanish).

In conjunction with the match, Sporting KC will hold its inaugural Faith and Family Day, featuring discounted South Stand tickets for $30 apiece as well as pre-game speeches from Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley and former University of Kansas All-American and NBA champion Wayne Simien.

Rock band 7eventh Time Down will perform a concert on the Toyota Plaza immediately after the match before Simien conducts a postgame question-and-answer with Sporting KC defenders Matt Besler, Ike Opara and Seth Sinovic.

Unbeaten in five straight matches, Sporting KC has ascended to the Western Conference summit behind a steady wave of goal scoring and a 262-minute shutout streak that dates back to March 24.

Last Sunday’s 2-0 road win over the LA Galaxy saw goalkeeper Tim Melia make a career-high and club-record 10 saves, resulting in his Alcatel MLS Player of the Week selection on Tuesday.

On the opposite side of the field, Daniel Salloi and Goal of the Week winner Johnny Russell maintained their fine form with strikes in the second half to silence the StubHub Center crowd.

Last weekend’s victory in LA was secured without Sporting KC’s talismanic midfielder Felipe Gutierrez, who is tied for the league lead with five goals and earned MLS Player of the Month honors for March.

Gutierrez is listed as day-to-day with a hip injury for an otherwise healthy that has boasted a balanced attack throughout the year. Seven different Sporting KC players have scored a goal in 2018, tied for the most in MLS, while five different players have provided assists.

Russell (two goals, two assists) and Salloi (one goal, three assists) have played a part in four goals each, while Khiry Shelton (two assists) and Roger Espinoza (three assists) have shouldered valuable supporting roles.

Seattle enters Sunday trending in the opposite direction. Head coach Brian Schmetzer has guided his team to consecutive MLS Cup appearances – capturing the club’s first league championship in 2016 – but the Sounders have stumbled out of the gates in 2018 with three losses, three red cards and zero goals through their first three matches.

Seattle’s early campaign also includes a quarterfinal exit in the Concacaf Champions League at the hands of finalist Chivas de Guadalajara.

Longtime U.S. international Clint Dempsey led Seattle with 12 goals during the 2017 regular season but won’t play a part this weekend in Kansas City.

The forward was suspended an extra game Thursday for his red card offense in a 3-0 loss at FC Dallas on March 18, while defender Kelvin Leerdam will also be sidelined for his misbehavior on March 31 in a defeat to the Montreal Impact.

In Dempsey’s absence, playmaking midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro will look to ignite Seattle’s stuttering attack. Since he joined the Sounders in July 2016, no MLS player has created more chances than Lodeiro.

In addition to coping without Dempsey and Leerdam, Seattle will likely have to account for multiple injury absences. Forward Jordan Morris is out for the season with an ACL tear, while midfielder Victor Rodriguez has yet to return to action following a knee sprain. However, 32-year-old captain Osvaldo Alonso could make his return on Sunday after missing the club’s first three games with a quad strain.

After winning just one of its first nine games against Seattle, Sporting KC is 4-1-2 in the last seven meetings between the clubs dating back to 2015. Manager Peter Vermes’ men have won each of their last two home matches in the series by a 3-0 score, prevailing at Children’s Mercy Park in July 2016 and May 2017.

The more recent meeting saw winger Gerso Fernandes score a second-half hat-trick, becoming the first Kansas City player to bag three goals in a regular season game since October 2010.

The sides last met on Aug. 12, 2017, when the Sounders earned a 1-0 home victory behind Dempsey’s goal in the 36th minute. It was Melia’s first goal conceded to Seattle in six appearances, as the goalkeeper wields a 4-1-1 regular-season record against the club with a 0.17 goals against average.

– Story from Sporting KC

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