Sporting Kansas City vs. Chivas USA Preview

Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE

In a battle of fourth place teams from their conferences respectively, Sporting KC hosts Chivas USA in a special Sunday match at Sporting Park.

Sporting Kansas City has their second of three straight home matches as they take on Chivas USA at Sporting Park.

About the teams

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC comes into the match in fourth place in the Eastern Conference coming off of a home loss to Portland 3-2. That's two straight losses in a row for Sporting KC, a rare sight for recent Sporting fans. They will come into this match looking to regain their winning ways by beating a rejuvenated Chivas USA team.

A win, however, could propel Sporting back to the top of the conference with some other losses around the league. The top of the conference, however, is so bunched up that any result could make a significant impact.

Chivas USA

Chivas USA has made a complete turnaround from last year. They really struggled to score in 2012, scoring only 24 goals all season. This year they have already reached 12 goals not even a quarter of the way through the season. This can be due to new manager Jose Luiz Sanchez Sola who has completely overturned the roster, returning only 13 players from last year.

Chivas could move up to the top three with a win and Portland or Los Angeles loss, but a loss could drop them al the way down the eighth.

Players to watch

Sporting Kansas City- CJ Sapong

CJ Sapong has yet to score a goal this season, quite out of the norm for the former central forward. With the arrival of Claudio Bieler, Sapong has been pushed out to the wing where he hasn't been nearly as much of a scoring threat.

However Sapong may be due. He's been talking for weeks about how much he wants to score his first goal of the year, and this match against Chivas USA may give him an opportunity to net a goal.

Chivas USA- Dan Kennedy

The most frustrating man in the MLS if he's not on your team. Kennedy is leading the MLS in saves with 36 and could be the difference between a Sporting win and a scoreless draw. He frustrated Sporting last year in a 1-0 win where he made multitudes of great saves that kept Chivas in the game.

Kennedy, along with Chivas' new and improved defense, could keep Sporting KC's offense from getting any good opportunities.

How they will win

Sporting KC

Sporting KC needs to pressure the Chivas defense and keep them on their heels. How they scored last year against Kennedy was continuing to pressure Chivas until they forced through a goal. Even though this is a much different team than last year, El Chelis' strategy involves keeping Chivas playing on their heels, which could work in Sporting's favor.

The midfielders will need to pressure up top and slide a ball through to the forwards in the box in hopes that someone can net a goal.

Chivas USA

Shut down Sporting KC's midfield. The way that Portland was able to beat Sporting was closing off the normally fluid passing from Nagamura, Rosell and Feilhaber and capitalize on the position. Chivas will have to do the same thing in order to gain a scoring opportunity.

Shutting down Sporting's midfield and keeping the pressure on the Sporting KC back line will be essential for a Chivas team looking to score.

Predictions

Lineups

Sporting KC: Nielsen, Myers, Besler, Collin, Sinovic, Rosell, Nagamura, Feilhaber, Zusi, Sapong, Bieler.

Chivas: Kennedy, De Luna, Velazquez, Burling, Avila, Iraheta, Mejia, Alvarez, Villafaña, Morales, Correa.

Score

Sporting KC 0-0 Chivas USA

I have a feeling this will be a very frustrating game for both sides. Both offenses will have good opportunities at the net, but neither squad will be able to actually put one in.

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