Both recent form and history suggest scoring opportunities could be scarce when Sporting Kansas City plays at the Seattle Sounders on Saturday afternoon.
Sporting KC (13-6-6, 45 points) has won four straight games — all by shutout — to pull within a point of first-place FC Dallas in the Western Conference. The run came after a five-match winless streak.
“After each game (during the skid), we were saying the same thing — let’s not panic, and let’s not change the way we play,” Sporting KC captain Matt Besler told The Kansas City Star. “When we get through this, it’s gonna make us a stronger team, and I think that’s what you’re seeing.”
Tim Melia has been in net for each of the victories and has a league-leading 11 shutouts this season.
Sporting KC has outscored opponents 8-0 during the run, with forward Diego Rubio accounting for four goals and two assists. Rubio scored the clinching goal in last Saturday’s 2-0 home victory against Minnesota United FC.
“I think a lot of dominoes are going our way,” Sporting KC defender Ike Opara told The Star. “A lot of that is because we’ve worked hard. It’s starting to fall our way. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. Right now, it seems to be clicking.”
The same could be said of the Sounders (11-9-5, 38 points), who have tied an MLS record with seven consecutive victories in the post-shootout era and are unbeaten in their past 10 matches to move above the playoff line.
The Sounders have outscored their opponents 19-5 over the 10-game span, with five shutouts.
Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei leads the league with a 0.96 goals-against average.
“We’ve found a way to prolong this streak,” Frei said after Sunday’s 1-0 victory at Portland. “It doesn’t get any easier. You gain confidence, yes, but it gets more and more difficult. (Sunday) was a tough game, (this) week will be a tough game as well. But it’s really, really nice to find ourselves above the (playoff) line now and something we should take pride in after so much hard work we put in to climb out of that hole.
“But by no means is the job done. We have to keep going and keep pushing and prolong this streak as long as possible.”
As for the history?
Including playoff games, eight of the nine MLS meetings between Sporting KC and the Sounders at CenturyLink field have produced one goal or fewer. The only game in Seattle in which more than one goal was scored was a 1-1 tie in 2012.
Seattle holds an 8-5-4 edge in the all-time series, including 4-2-2 at home. The teams met April 15 in Kansas City, playing to a 2-2 draw.
—Field Level Media