Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake
2017 MLS Regular Season
Children's Mercy Park - Kansas City, Kan.
Saturday, April 29 | 8:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS Live
Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake both had their upward trajectories dinged by losses last weekend, and both will be keen to avoid taking a second straight L when the Western Conference rivals meet on Saturday at Children's Mercy Park.
Sporting are coming off a 1-0 loss at FC Dallas last weekend, their first defeat of the season after opening the year 3-0-3, and will be looking to get back on the scoreboard after being shut out for the fourth time this year. RSL, meanwhile, dropped a 3-1 home decision to expansion side Atlanta United, after winning their first two matches under new coach Mike Petke – following an 0-3-2 start that saw Jeff Cassar's dismissal.
SKC have been unbeatable at Children's Mercy Park so far this year, going 2-0-1 and scoring five of their six goals at their home ground. Injury-depleted Real have struggled away from home, winning just once in four tries. But when these two teams square off, no matter the venue, the match is typically hard-fought and close.
Sporting Kansas City
If Sporting's offense has yet to fully come together this season, the home side's defense has been a strength from the outset. Even after last weekend's defeat, Sporting have conceded just three times in seven matches -- and only once during the run of play. Tim Melia's four clean sheets have all been team efforts, with SKC's high press flustering opponents deep in their own end and breaking up possessions in the middle of the park.
The front line of center forward Dom Dwyer and wingers Jimmy Medranda and Gerso does look to be coming together, as the club look for ways to provide both service to Dwyer and goals from other players, to help keep defenses from keying on their lone striker.
RSL have struggled to defend in transition this year, and if Sporting can force turnovers – especially in the attacking third – that should give them plenty of opportunities on Saturday night.
- Suspended: None
- International Duty: None:
- Injury report: OUT: F Diego Rubio (torn ACL)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): Tim Melia (GK) – Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Ike Opara, Graham Zusi – Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Ilie – Gerso, Dom Dwyer, Jimmy Medranda
Notes: Since winning MLS Cup 2013 against RSL, Sporting has not beaten them in their last seven regular season matches (4L-3D). They have only scored four goals in these seven games, and never more than one in a single match.
Real Salt Lake
Goalkeeper Nick Rimando has gone through some uncharacteristic struggles with decision-making and distribution this season. Now, injury is on the list of his problems as well. Rimando had to leave the Atlanta United match in the 58th minute with a right leg knock and is listed as questionable.
Defender Chris Wingert is another new question mark for the injury-riddled visitors, too. Wingert also departed last weekend's match early after taking a shot to the head, and close-ups shortly after the incident showed him clearly dazed. If Wingert can't go on the weekend, that's one more hole in the defense in front of whoever's in goal.
Forward Joao Plata is back from a quad strain, striker Yura Movsisyan is always a threat to score, and winger Brooks Lennon has provided plenty of spark up front since coming home from his time at Liverpool.
- Suspended: None
- International duty: None
- Injury report: OUT: – F Chad Barrett (knee surgery, 4-6 months) REPORT; D David Horst (knee surgery, 6-8 weeks) REPORT; QUESTIONABLE – M Jordan Allen (right quad strain); D Justen Glad (knee injury), D Tony Beltran (back injury)
- Q, D Aaron Maund (left hamstring strain), GK Nick Rimando (leg injury); PROBABLE – M Sunny (hamstring injury), D Chris Wingert (face injury), F Joao Plata (quad injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): Matt Van Oekel – Danny Acosta, Chris Schuler, Chris Wingert, Demar Phillips – Kyle Beckerman, Luke Mulholland, Albert Rusnak – Brooks Lennon, Yura Movsisyan, Sebastian Saucedo
Notes: RSL’s 2-1 win over Colorado on April 15th snapped an eight game MLS road winless streak (7L-1D). They have only kept one clean sheet in their last 35 regular season away matches.
Sporting hold the big prize in the series, winning the 2013 MLS Cup title on penalties after a 1-1 draw, but Real hold a slim 9-8 advanage in regular-season play. There have been six regular-season draws as well.
- Overall: Sporting 8 wins, 27 goals; Real Salt Lake 9 wins, 29 goals; 6 draws
- At Sporting: Sporting 5 wins, 14 goals; Real Salt Lake 3 wins, 12 goals; 4 draws
- Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
- AR1 (Near side): Anthony Vasoli
- AR2 (Far side): Jose Da Silva
- Fourth Official: Nima Saghafi