Match Preview: Sporting Kansas City welcomes San Jose Quakes

Sporting KC will look to turn their focus to the MLS Regular Season after falling out of the CONCACAF Champions League.

About the Teams

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC has not had the best start to the season. Two late goals in both of their regular season games and getting thoroughly spanked in Mexico City by Cruz Azul has left Sporting KC with a shaky start to 2014. The whirlwind start of 5 matches in 14 days finally comes to an end against San Jose but Sporting KC is going to be tired for this match. They will also be without starting right fullback Chance Myers again but should have a rested Seth Sinovic and Aurelien Collin for this match since they did not play against Cruz Azul.

San Jose Earthquakes

San Jose has played one less match than Sporting KC in the past two weeks but they should still be exhausted from their Champions League experience. They went thirty extra minutes with Toluca in Mexico and were one penalty kick away from advancing to the CCL semifinals. They have to feel confident after playing that well against Toluca when the odds were so against them. They are, like they did against Toluca, going to have to play with a makeshift back four because of the rash of injuries that has plagued their defense.

Players to Watch

Sporting Kansas City- Aurelien Collin

Aurelien Collin is going to be absolutely crucial in this match against the normal attacking style of San Jose. For one, Collin is rested after not playing in the second leg against Cruz Azul. He was in the 18 but was not subbed it. Second, Collin will be in charge of defending against Steven Lenhart, whose physical style and ability to out-muscle defenders has made him a dangerous forward to play against. Collin will be in charge of out-muscling Lenhart and making sure that San Jose is not able to use the aerial attack they like to use.

San Jose Earthquakes- Victor Bernardez

Victor Bernardez was the hero in San Jose's first MLS match of 2014, scoring two goals in the final fifteen minutes to give San Jose a 3-3 draw with Real Salt Lake. His scoring ability (scoring five goals since 2012), however, won't be the reason why Sporting needs to try and find ways to beat him. He has a large frame and is not afraid to be physical. There aren't many teams who can go toe-to-toe physically with Sporting KC but San Jose is and Bernardez a reason why. He will be in charge of knocking down the Sporting KC attack and out-muscling Dom Dwyer and the rest of the front line.

Why They Will Win

Sporting Kansas City

The biggest advantage that Sporting KC has over San Jose in this match is their respective back lines. Sporting KC has two rested players in Seth Sinovic and Aurelien Collin, whereas San Jose has a makeshift back line that is still exhausted from the Toluca match. Sporting KC should be able to defend the San Jose attack while running their defense ragged on the other side. They were able to hold up well against Toluca but that was still 120 minutes of a tough attack. Sporting KC's pressure should be able to attack the back line.

San Jose Earthquakes

With Chance Myers still being absent due to injury, Sporting KC will be forced to use one of their backup right backs again. We saw what a competent winger can do against an overmatched defender when we saw Marco Fabian decimate Kevin Ellis this past Wednesday. Steven Lenhart isn't a pure winger, but he can still cause havoc on that side by pushing forward against an overmatched Ellis and out-muscling Collin or drawing him into a dumb foul. As long as Sporting KC's back line remains to be incomplete, there will be chances for opposing teams to take advantage.

Predictions

Lineups

Sporting KC: Kronberg, Gardner, Collin, Opara, Sinovic, Rosell, Nagamura, Medranda, Zusi, Dwyer, Sapong

San Jose Earthquakes: Busch, Francis, Harden, Bernardez, Cato, Salinas, Stephenson, Cronin, Harris, Lenhart, Schuler.

Scoreline

Sporting Kansas City 2-0 San Jose

I think that San Jose's back line is going to be too tired not to give into the pressure of Sporting KC's system. It's going to be sloppy style between two exhausted teams but Sporting should pull out their first win of the season.

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