MLS Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, March 8, 2014
(All times Eastern)
Kansas City (0-0-0) at Seattle (0-0-0), 3 p.m.
Seattle, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - Sporting Kansas City will begin its MLS Cup
defense on Saturday when it heads to CenturyLink Field to face Seattle
Kansas City hoisted the Philip F. Anschutz trophy in December after edging
Real Salt Lake on penalties for its second MLS Cup crown in club history.
Sporting has been able to maintain much of its title-winning roster ahead of
the new season, but its inclusion in the CONCACAF Champions League means that
it will face the challenge of having to contend in multiple competitions and
balance a dense fixture list.
"I do like the group that we have," Sporting head coach Peter Vermes told
MLSsoccer.com during the offseason. "It never means that it's set, by any
means. But I also think, with the fact that we are playing the competitions
we're in, and how fast we have to get ready for Champions League, we need to
have consistency in our group. I think that's an important aspect going
Sporting's most notable additions have been goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum and Sal
Zizzo. Gruenebaum replaces Jimmy Nielsen following his retirement at the
conclusion of last season. Zizzo, who arrived at Sporting in a trade with the
Portland Timbers, has Vermes buzzing about his potential contributions to the
"He's going to fit into the way we play really well, and I'm not even talking
about the goals," Vermes said after a preseason training session. "He's an
exceptional winger. He's got a great attitude. He's got a good mind for the
game, and he's definitely going to be a good addition to our team."
Seattle should provide Sporting with a stern test to open the season.
The Sounders are perennial contenders and figure to be once again, even though
they faded down the stretch last season. Following a 2-0 victory over Real
Salt Lake on Sept. 8, Seattle embarked on a franchise-worst seven-game winless
streak that included a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids followed by a 4-1
defeat against Vancouver Whitecaps FC at home.
That run of poor form could be attributed to Seattle's mid-season roster
shuffle, which saw the club add United States international Clint Dempsey.
The Sounders haven't stopped that rebuilding process in the offseason as they
replaced striker Eddie Johnson with Kenny Cooper in addition to signing
midfielder Marco Pappa.
"Marco is a proven and established player who has been very productive in this
league," Sounders sporting director Chris Henderson said. "He has the
technical quality to create chances for himself and his teammates at any
moment, and is a high-character guy who brings excitement and quality to our
03/07 15:30:31 ET