Saunders expects Sporting KC to come out with a “fight”

Tukwila – To point out, the Seattle Sounders have spent most of the past seven months thinking that their latest meeting with Sporting KC would be a bit of a stretch. In that time, the Sounders made the playoffs for the thirteenth consecutive season, became the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League and overcame a tough start to the 2022 regular season to once again put themselves in the playoff position.

To say they completely forgot about that encounter? This would also be a bit of a stretch.

The match itself wasn’t particularly memorable, but rather a moment. With Sporting KC leading 1-0, Tim Melia criticized Christian Roldan in such a horrible way that even Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson took notice.

“It just adds a little flair to the game,” Roldan said on Wednesday. “The games against Kansas City are always interesting. They are well trained and always have a chip on their shoulders.”

Roldan insisted that he held no personal animosity toward Melia, even if the apology in the immediate aftermath was a bit unmild.

“It was as if nothing had happened,” Roldan said of Melia’s mistake. “I was kind of shocked to be honest. It was like ‘sorry about that.’ It was very permissive.

“But Tim is a good and competitive person just like me, so I don’t blame him.”

What adds more intrigue to the match is the general sense that the punishment does not equal the crime. Not only was Melia allowed to finish the match – VAR did not interfere and suggested at most Ismail Al-Fateh issue yellow – but Sporting KC scored a late goal to seal the victory. Twisting the knife slightly, the Disciplinary Committee gave Melia a minimum suspension for one match. During this comment, Melia’s teammates at Sporting KC appeared to mock the situation by performing a wrestling-inspired celebration after the goal.

However, it seemed that there was some karmic revenge. Since that celebration, Sporting KC has only gone 5-13-4 in MLS play and went into Saturday’s game just two points off the wooden spoon “leaders”.

As much as Sporting KC has suffered, it has a potentially season-changing win on the road against Nashville SC — ending Nashville’s 25-game unbeaten streak at home — and could swing within one point of the playoff streak with a win. Besides Sporting KC winning each of its past three trips to Lumen Field, the Sounders don’t take anything for granted.

“They have the potential, the players, they’ve been underperforming,” said Sounders goalkeeper Stephen Fry. “Whether it’s bad luck or bad play, it doesn’t matter. If they play a good game with their abilities, they are a very good team and they can make a quantum leap. We know that. We expect them to come out to fight.”

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