An enticing Western Conference clash is on tap Wednesday as Sporting Kansas City (5-2-4, 19 points) plays host to reigning MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders FC (2-4-4, 10 points) at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. with FOX Sports Kansas City Plus and FOX Sports Midwest Plus television coverage beginning at 7 p.m. The match will also stream live on FOX Sports GO.
Local radio broadcasts of Wednesday’s contest will air on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish), while the Sporting KC Uphoria mobile app will provide live updates.
Tickets for Wednesday’s Retro Night showdown – which serves as a rematch of the 2016 Western Conference Knockout Round – are on sale at SeatGeek.com.
Supporters are encouraged to arrive early to Children’s Mercy Park on Wednesday, as former striker Mo Johnston will be inducted into the Sporting Legends hall of honor during an on-field pregame ceremony. A new retro training top will be available for purchase at all SportingStyle locations inside the stadium, and the annual Sporting KC Media Game will take place at halftime.
The first 7,000 fans inside Children’s Mercy Park will receive a free amenity kit courtesy of the Darol Rodrock Foundation, which will set up a donation bin at the Sporting Plaza where supporters are encouraged to drop off unwrapped items such as toiletries, school supplies, gift cards and cash donations.
Sporting Kansas City and Seattle will meet for the first time since the 2016 postseason, when the Sounders escaped with a 1-0 victory at CenturyLink Field thanks to a contentious goal from Nelson Valdez in the 88th minute. Seattle parlayed the dramatic win into an impressive playoff run that culminated in MLS Cup glory, punctuated by a penalty shootout triumph over Toronto FC after a 0-0 draw in the final.
The 2017 campaign has seen both clubs gravitate in separate directions. Sporting Kansas City is tied atop the Western Conference table and boasts the best defensive record in MLS, owning six shutouts and a 0.64 goals against average.
Meanwhile, Seattle’s title defense is off to a stuttering start: head coach Brian Schmetzer’s men have won just two of their first 10 games and sit ninth in the West. Coincidentally, the Sounders occupied that very position after losing to Sporting KC 3-0 last July before staging a furious rally over the latter half of 2016.
Forward Latif Blessing struck twice in Sporting Kansas City’s 2-2 draw at Orlando City SC on Saturday, becoming the club’s youngest player to score a brace in a competitive match at 20 years and 134 days. He was a sub for Dom Dwyer, who served a one-game suspension for caution accumulation and is available to play Wednesday. Dwyer leads the side with five goals, including four in his last three appearances at Children’s Mercy Park.
Spurred by a dogged midfield and an organized backline anchored by captain Matt Besler and fellow central defender Ike Opara, Sporting Kansas City will put a 14-game home unbeaten streak on the line against Seattle – an all-time club record and the longest active regular season home run in MLS. Since last June, manager Peter Vermes’ side is 11-0-3 with eight shutouts in Children’s Mercy Park.
Seattle will look to bounce back from a 4-1 setback suffered Saturday in Chicago. U.S. international Clint Dempsey struck his team-leading fourth goal of the campaign to restore parity before halftime, but three second-half goals from the Fire condemned the Sounders to a second straight defeat and extended their winless run to three matches.
Despite a mediocre start to its title defense, Seattle wields a wealth of attacking talent. Dempsey is joined by compatriot Jordan Morris (two goals) and playmaking talisman Nicolas Lodeiro (three goals, four assists), who was the catalyst to the Sounders’ late-season surge with eight goals and eight assists in 17 MLS appearances last season as a mid-summer acquisition. Veteran Osvaldo Alonso adds bite to the midfield as one of the league’s most accurate passers and best duel winners.
Sporting Kansas City has enjoyed regular season success against Seattle since the start of 2015, claiming three wins, two draws and four clean sheets from the last five meetings. Between 2009 and 2014, the Sounders won seven of nine meetings – including five that involved game-winners in second-half stoppage time. Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia boasts an excellent record in the fixture, going 3-0-1 in the regular season with shutouts in every match.
Forward Soony Saad was added to the Sporting KC injury report this week after spraining his ankle in training. The forward is questionable for Wednesday, while striker Diego Rubio will remain sidelined as he continues to rehab from an ACL injury suffered last October. Sporting KC will also be without homegrown defender Erik Palmer-Brown, who has joined the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic.
The Sounders will have multiple absences to account for when they visit Children’s Mercy Park. Left back Joevin Jones is tied for third in MLS with five assists but will serve a one-game suspension after picking up two yellow cards in Saturday’s loss to Chicago. Defender Roman Torres is out with a strained hamstring and Alonso is questionable with tightness in his quad.
– Story from Sporting KC