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MLS Preview: Seattle Sounders FC - Sporting Kansas City

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MLS Preview: Seattle Sounders FC - Sporting Kansas City
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MLS Preview: Seattle Sounders FC - Sporting Kansas City

Major League Soccer kicks off Saturday with a showdown between two of the teams favored to finish near the top of the table, with Sporting Kansas City traveling to Seattle to take on the Sounders at CenturyLink Field.

The Sounders had a busy offseason, bringing in the likes of Chad Marshall, Marco Pappa, Kenny Cooper and Stefan Frei while seeing big names like Eddie Johnson, Mauro Rosales, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Michael Gspurning leave, leaving plenty of questions as the club opens the new year.

One bit of exciting news for Seattle just ahead of the season is the signing of Mexican midfielder Gonzalo Pineda, who has 32 caps for Mexico and started three of El Tri's matches at the 2006 World Cup.

READ MORE: Goal's full 2014 MLS preview

Sporting, fresh off winning the MLS Cup in 2013, saw the retirement of longtime goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and a trade that moved forward Teal Bunbury to New England as the only major offseason moves.

The all-time series heavily favors the Sounders, who have won six, drawn one and lost one in eight games played between the two, with the Sounders taking a 1-0 win at Sporting Park in 2013.

Both teams will be expected to compete for the league title in 2014, with each side boasting a couple of U.S. national team regulars.

Seattle should be boosted by having USA captain Clint Dempsey in the team for the full season — aside from his projected World Cup absence — and can also rely on Brad Evans, who has earned a spot as a right back for Jurgen Klinsmann's side.

For Sporting, Graham Zusi and Matt Besler are expected to play a big part in the USA team at this summer's World Cup and both have proven over the last couple of years that they have the quality to dominate MLS games.

The two sides also boast incredibly deep teams for Major League Soccer, which should keep them both afloat when their international players leave for the summer.

The opening match of the MLS season is set to take place at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday.

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