Sporting Kansas City hosts even-matched Rapids with Supporters Shield standings on the line

Jamie Squire

Even with each other in the league at 39 points a piece, Sporting KC and Colorado will try and get three points as the season starts to wind down.

One team is hot, unbeaten in nine straight matches. One is not, losing four out of  their past five league matches. Both of these team stand tied for fifth in the Supporters Shield race, which is packed tight. With eight matches to go in the season, this match becomes extremely important for the Shield. It could give one team a special boost, while giving the other a devastating knock down the standings. It's Sporting Kansas City vs the Colorado Rapids, with crucial points on the line.

About the Teams

Sporting Kansas City

The home side has lost four out of their last five league matches but have missed some key players along the way, including a stretch of matches missing Kei Kamara and Graham Zusi due to injury. Zusi returned last Friday in Chicago and Kamara may return against Colorado. Sporting should have a confidence boost after knocking off Olimpia in Honduras this past week in Champions League play but will have a much tougher opponent in the Rapids. It will be their first home match since their win against the Revolution earlier this month, so maybe Sporting Park can provide a spark for their hometown boys.

Colorado Rapids

The recent heat that has enveloped Kansas City is probably from the Colorado Rapids coming into town. The Rapids are unbeaten in their last nine games and have become a force in the Western Conference. They signed a big Designated Player in Gabrielle Torres, the first in club history. They won their last match against Vancouver 2-0 and have had a two week break in between that game and this. They will be well rested coming into Kansas City, who is comparatively playing their third match in nine days.

Players to Watch

Sporting Kansas City- Kei Kamara

Kei Kamara may or may not return from injury against the Rapids, still suffering from a sprained ankle which he suffered in the match against the Revolution from a reckless challenge. After missing two league matches, Kamara could very well play against the Rapids. If he does play, he'll be interesting to watch to see how well he has recovered from his injury and if he can contribute. If he can contribute, Sporting's offense gets a huge boost that it was missing in the matches against San Jose and Chicago.

Colorado Rapids- Vicente Sanchez

In his first match with the Rapids, Sanchez crossed in a perfect ball that lead to a 1-0 lead for the Rapids against the Whitecaps. Now, Sanchez has the power to really prove himself in the midfield. Along with Dillon Powers, Sanchez will patrol the midfield and create chances from the flanks and through the middle of the pitch. The recent signing will also be tasked with shutting down Zusi and not allowing any chances from the Sporting midfield. If he does this, then the Rapids could very well walk out of Kansas City with three points.

Predictions

Lineups

Sporting KC: Jimmy Nielsen - Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers - Graham Zusi, Uri Rosell, Benny Feilhaber - Kei Kamara, Claudio Bieler, Soony Saad

Colorado Rapids: Clint Irwin - Marvell Wynne, Shane O'Neill, Drew Moor, Christopher Klute - Nathan Sturgis, Hendry Thomas - Vicente Sanchez, Dillon Powers, Deshorn Brown - Gabriel Torres

Scoreline

Sporting Kansas City 1-2 Colorado Rapids

Colorado has been really good lately and are coming off of a bye week, whereas Sporting has had to play a lot lately. Kei Kamara may or may not be in form and may not even play. Two defenders, Collin and Sinovic, are one yellow away from missing the next match against the Crew, where Sporting is already missing four players. They may play too careful and allow the Rapids' attack to get past them.

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