Zards face first away test.On Form
John Zielonka on Seattle Sounders FC: Last week, the Sounders managed to score twice on the road in a draw against a tough RSL squad. Seattle's extra work in practice on set pieces paid off when Tyrone Marshall netted his first strike of the year from a Freddie Ljungberg free kick. Second-year player Steve Zakuani continued his outstanding play and scored his first of the year. His confidence is high, so expect more offensive production from the youngster.
Keith Hickey on the Kansas City Wizards: KC currently sits atop the Eastern Conference and second overall on the Major League Soccer table. Although it's very early in the season, the Wizards have scored five and conceded none in their two games, suggesting the kind of overall strength they were lacking in a dismal 2009 season. Sierra Leone international Kei Kamara leads the scoring charts with two goals, while former Arsenal youth player Ryan Smith provides the creative spark. U.S. international Jimmy Conrad, widely considered one of the league's premier defenders, leads the so-far perfect back line.
Seattle: In Salt Lake, head coach Sigi Schmid was disappointed with his second-year squad that may not be focused for the full 90. He attributed the last-second strike at Salt Lake to a lapse in concentration. Seattle will need to ensure the marking is tighter and the defense is positioned properly on set pieces.
Kansas City: With their excellent form so far this season, it would be unfair to single out any Wizards players for poor performance, but former U.S. international Josh Wolff will perhaps be slightly disappointed that he is still looking for his first goal of the season.
Seattle: The midfield holds the key with Freddie Ljungberg and Steve Zakuani getting more comfortable with each other and their forwards. Expect a more offensive push from the tandem in this match against Kansas City. Newly acquired Pat Noonan started last week's match and will continue to improve and gel with more playing time. Defensively Kasey Keller and his four defenders should be solid in the back.
Kansas City: With the narrow pitch at their temporary home stadium CommunityAmerica Ballpark, the Wizards utilized a 3-5-2 against D.C. United and the Colorado Rapids, using an attacking trio of Kamara, Wolff and Smith, while captain Davy Arnaud ran a crowded midfield. The wider field of play at Qwest might encourage KC head coach Peter Vermes to adopt a 4-4-2 formation, using fullbacks to cover the wide areas further back and placing more emphasis on the wing play of players like Smith and Roger Espinoza. Former Danish youth international keeper Jimmy Nielsen, yet to be scored against in the league in his Major League Soccer career, will keep his place in goal.
Seattle: Let's see if the Sounders are able to overcome their scoring jitters at Qwest Field. Seattle tends to be looser on the road. Sigi Schmid may need some psychology to get his team to play as if they were on the road.
Kansas City: As always Qwest Field should provide an imposing atmosphere for visiting teams, but a vastly experienced Wizards side boasting players like U.S. internationals Jimmy Conrad, Davy Arnaud, and Josh Wolff should be able to deal with distractions without much difficulty. The Wizards will also be looking to consolidate their lead atop of the Eastern Conference standings against one of the better sides in MLS and prove that their early season form hasn't been a fluke.
Seattle: Seattle Sounders FC 2 (Zakuani, Montero) - Kansas City Wizards 0. The Sounders defense comes around and earns a shutout against the visitors from KC.
Kansas City: 2-0 to Kansas City. The Wizards are looking formidable at the moment, while Seattle has yet to win since 2010 First Kick, which was against an expansion team playing its first ever match. Veteran KC should prove too much for the sophomore Sounders.
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