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Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire | 2017 MLS Match Preview

Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire
2017 MLS Match Preview
Children's Mercy Park – Kansas City, Kan.
Saturday, July 29 – 8 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE

Since the end of the 2013 season, Sporting Kansas City have had an almost constant presence at the top of the formation. With Dom Dwyer's trade to Orlando City SC, that will no longer be the case.

Dwyer took over the starting striker position full-time at the start of the 2014 season and did not let it go until he was traded on Tuesday. His 55 goals since then were by far the most of any Sporting KC player, with the next best being Benny Feilhaber's 24, and that total accounted for 34 percent of Sporting's goals.

The good news for a team that currently sits in second place in the Western Conference is that they have had some time without Dwyer this season, with the 26-year-old joining the US national team prior to the Gold Cup. When looking at the season in total, Sporting have scored the same amount of goals per 90 minutes with Dwyer on or off the field (1.1). It's clear that Peter Vermes' has not relied on their attack with or without Dwyer, and that trend will have to continue with Eastern Conference heavyweights Chicago Fire visiting town.

Sporting Kansas City

As mentioned above, it's not like Sporting KC have been relying on their offense to win games. Their 1.2 goals per game is the fifth-lowest average in MLS. It's clear that they don't need a high-powered attack to be a top team in MLS, but any kind of uptick would be a welcome sign.

Without the presence of Dwyer, the goalscoring will have to come from unproven players. With Gerso out of the match on Saturday night, these players should get their first chance to prove themselves in the post-Dwyer era. Daniel Salloi and Diego Rubio have played a combined 445 minutes this season with each scoring one goal, while Latif Blessing has scored two in 769 MLS minutes. Of course, Blessing did score both goals against FC Dallas in Sporting's U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal win. Those three, plus Soony Saad, will be looking to fill some big shoes for the rest of the season.

  • Suspended: M Gerso (Disciplinary Committee decision)
  • Int’l Duty: None
  • Injury Report: QUESTIONABLE: D Ike Opara (concussion)

Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): GK: Tim Melia – Saad Abdul-Salaam, Erik Palmer-Brown, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic – Ilie, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber – Daniel Salloi, Diego Rubio, Latif Blessing

Notes: Benny Feilhaber scored his third goal of the season, his first since April 29. It was Feilhaber’s first converted penalty kick this season; he has scored five goals from penalty kicks each of the last two seasons. … It was the first penalty kick of the season for Sporting. Only San Jose has yet to win a penalty kick yet this year; Orlando City was unsuccessful from their lone penalty kick, the only other team yet to score from the spot in 2017.

Chicago Fire

The Fire have no such issues in their attack. They will visit Kansas City with the Nemanja Nikolic and David Accam in tow. Nikolic is the league leader in goals with 16 while Accam is tied for fourth with 11 goals and is in the top ten with seven assists. Accam added his 11th on Saturday in a 2-1 loss at New York City FC in a match that the Fire failed to get a point despite being up a man for 77 minutes.

That game was rather frustrating for a team that had been sitting at the top of the Supporters' Shield race according to points per game. Some of that could be do in part to the absence of Dax McCarty, who was off on national team duty. He could return on Saturday and pair with newly-selected All-Star team captain Bastian Schweinsteiger in a matchup against one of the toughest midfields in MLS.

  • Suspended: None
  • Int’l Duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: M John Goossens (right ankle surgery), GK Jorge Bava (left elbow tendinitis), D Brandon Vincent (quad strain)

Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): GK: Matt Lampson — Matt Polster, Johan Kappelhof, Joao Meira, Michael Harrington — Dax McCarty, Bastian Schweinsteiger — Luis Solignac, Michael de Leeuw, David Accam — Nemanja Nikolic

Notes: David Accam has a goal and/or an assist in nine of his last 10 games played, dating back to May 6, with seven goals and five assists in that run. Accam’s 11 goals are now tied for fourth-most in MLS and his seven assists are tied for ninth-most. … Michael Harrington returned to the lineup for the first time since April 29, playing the full 90 defense on the back line.

All-Time Series

  • Overall: Chicago lead 26-14-11
  • At SKC: SKC lead 10-8-9

Referees

Referee: Alan Kelly
Assistant Referees: Eric Weisbrod, Mike Kampmeinert
Fourth Official: Alejandro Mariscal

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Current Form

Sporting KC
Chicago

Season Goal Leaders

Season Stats

Sporting Kansas CityChicago Fire
21Games Played20
8Wins11
4Losses4
9Draws5
25Goals38
15Goals Conceded21
231Shots211
102Shots on Target105
231Fouls committed235
252Fouls suffered257
39Offside60
109Corners91

Goals Scored

01234+TotalAvg
SKC85440251.2
CHI26723381.9
01234+Avg
SKC132401.9
CHI014232.7
01234+Avg
SKC722000.5
CHI253001.1

Goals Conceded

01234+TotalAvg
SKC99300150.7
CHI94511211.1
01234+Avg
SKC550000.5
CHI721000.4
01234+Avg
SKC443000.9
CHI224111.7
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