Seattle blanked Austin 1-0 to move five points clear of KC in the west as the Wizards drew 1-1 with the San Jose Earthquakes.
Like a true champion, the Seattle Sounders got right back to business this week, beating Austin FC just a few days after suffering their first defeat of the season last Sunday, 1-0 to Minnesota United.
Their franchise depth has been put to the test like never before, as manager Brian Schmetzer had to turn to the Sounders' youth academy products along with their USL affiliate, the Tacoma Defiance, who were called in on extreme hardship waivers for their match against Austin.
Five teenagers were in the starting 11 on Thursday for the reigning Western Conference champions, and even though they only had 25% possession, they found yet another way to grab three points.
This team have had plenty of hardships on the injury front, but they always seem to have an answer to their problems.
Schmetzer and his staff will have their work cut out for them when it comes to shutting down the Wizards, as Kansas City are second in goals this season with 25 and have beaten Seattle in their last two regular-season matches.
Sunday will be the first match of their three-game homestand, and they will be full of confidence that they can win all three fixtures, as they are unbeaten this year at Lumen Field.
Sporting Kansas City had hoped that this matchup would be for first place, but they failed to capitalise on their relentless pressure on Wednesday, drawing 1-1 with the San Jose Earthquakes.
While the draw was disappointing, Peter Vermes had to have been pleased with how his team fought back after conceding a second-half goal to the Quakes as they scored the equaliser in the fourth minute of injury time.
Although they have not been tested in quite the same manner as Seattle, KC have also shown that they have a lot of depth at every position, with five players already having scored multiple goals this season, while seven players have at least one assist.
This team is not only well-drilled and well-disciplined, but they have also shown that they can handle the strongest teams in their conference, winning three of their four fixtures versus the top seven teams out west.
These long layoffs seem to be troubling their rhythm, as they fired eight shots on target against San Jose but only scored once in their first match in 17 days.
They had the same problem the last time they had a long pause to the season, firing 11 shots on goal against Austin but only scoring once in a 1-1 draw in their first match following a two-week break, so needless to say, they will not mind having only a four-day break before facing the Sounders.
Seattle continue to miss numerous regulars, including Jordan Morris with an ACL injury, Jordy Delem (right ACL tear), Stefan Frei (left knee sprain/ blood clot), Nicolas Lodeiro (right knee injury), Will Bruin is still recovering from right knee meniscus surgery, Shane O'Neill has a left hip flexor strain and Nouhou Tolo is out with a left adductor strain.
Raul Ruidiaz scored his 11th goal of the season against Austin and now leads the league in that category, while 16-year-old Reed Baker-Whiting added a lot of speed to their midfield in their last match and Spencer Richey made his first start in goal for Seattle, making three saves to collect a clean sheet.
KC had some players return from injury this week as Gadi Kinda recovered from his foot injury, Remi Walter returned from a knee injury, while Jaylin Lindsey came on as a sub against the Quakes, having recovered from a hamstring problem, but Roberto Puncec is still out with an undisclosed injury.
Daniel Salloi scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season versus San Jose, while midfielder Cameron Duke had quite the game on Wednesday, with the academy product making MLS history with 12 duels won, a 55% duel success rate, eight fouls suffered and a 90% passing accuracy.
Seattle Sounders possible starting lineup:
Cleveland; Smith, Cissoko, Gomez, Atencio; Baker-Whiting, Paulo, Rowe, Medranda; Montero, Ruidiaz
Sporting Kansas City possible starting lineup:
Melia; Lindsey, Rad, Fontas, Martins; Duke, Espinoza, Kinda; Russell, Shelton, Salloi
We say: Seattle Sounders 1-1 Sporting Kansas City
The Sounders have had everything seemingly go against them in terms of injuries, but they always seem to find a way to earn a result, and they will have to be especially sharp against the Wizards.
Kansas City should present Seattle with their biggest challenge of the season, and it should be quite the chess match between two of the most brilliant minds in MLS in Brian Schmetzer and Peter Vermes.
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