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Sounders FC-Sporting Kansas City Preview
The Seattle Sounders believe they can benefit from the heartbreaking Leagues Cup final defeat they suffered to Leon in midweek as they prepare to take on Sporting Kansas City.
As well as maintaining a superb domestic campaign, sitting just a point behind Sporting KC with a game in hand in the West, the Sounders enjoyed a run to the showpiece match in the Leagues Cup.
But despite taking the lead against Leon, Seattle fell to a 3-2 loss that coach Brian Schmetzer described as an "emotional drain."
Reflecting on his side's post-game analysis as they turn their focus towards Sporting KC, Schmetzer added: "It was hard for them to watch, but they're not afraid of that, because they understand that's how they learn."
He said: "I'm very proud of the team for having that type of mentality to push us through.
"We've experienced something that other teams haven't this year. We've lost a big game, and now it's the time to push through that and use that experience to be better so that, when the playoffs roll around, maybe we've learned a couple things from the Leon game."
Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said: "(Seattle) are the team in Major League Soccer. Week in, week out, you see how they play, how they compete.
"Their players are incredibly committed, so I'm sure it's going to be the best version of who they are. It's obviously a very tough game for us."
Sporting Kansas City - Johnny Russell
Russell has scored three goals in his past four games, as well as providing two assists last time out. A previous run of three in four earlier this season included the opener against Seattle in a stunning away win.
Seattle Sounders - Cristian Roldan
When the influential Roldan plays well, so too do the team. His first goal since June had the Sounders in front against Leon, but Roldan offers much more than just goals, setting the tempo in midfield for these big matches.
- Sporting KC have won three straight matches against Seattle, including a 3-1 victory at Lumen Field in July. The three-game run is the longest active winning streak against the Sounders, as no team has won four in a row against Seattle since San Jose did so in 2012-13.
- Sporting KC have won their past two matches by a combined score of 6-0. Sporting have kept clean sheets in five of their past eight league matches after keeping just two in their first 17 regular season games in 2021.
- The Sounders' four-match road winning streak ended with a 1-0 loss at Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Seattle have not lost consecutive away matches in two years, since falling at Colorado and DC United in September 2019.
- Sporting KC have conceded 26 goals in 25 matches this season, the fifth-best defensive record in MLS. However, they have outperformed their expected goals against by a league-high 12.9 this season, as their expected goals against value of 38.9 is 11th-highest in the competition.
- The Sounders have conceded an MLS-low 20 goals this season, with opponents scoring with just 7.2 per cent of their shots, also lowest in the league. Seattle have outperformed their expected goals against by 8.1 this season (20 conceded, 28.1 expected), only Sporting (-12.9) have done better.
Updated September 25, 2021