About the Teams
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting KC come into this match winners of four of their last five matches and the current Eastern Conference leaders. They will have a rested attack with Graham Zusi and Antonio Dovale both getting the match off Wednesday and will be mostly be injury free, except for Paulo Nagamura. This will either put Graham Zusi back into the midfield with Feilhaber or Olum, or Mikey Lopez will make another start. With a win, Sporting KC could put some distance between themselves between them and DC United, who is currently one point down in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand.
Los Angeles Galaxy
The Galaxy are riding an eight game unbeaten streak that stretches all the way back to mid-May. This has been in part to their strong defense, which has given up only 14 goals in 16 games. They join Sporting KC as one of the only two teams to be giving up less than a goal per game on average. Their defense will be tested this match without Omar Gonzales (injury) and Dan Gargan (discipline), but they have enough depth to cover the defensive absences. On offense, they have Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and Gyasi Zardes and the ability to put up lots of goals, as evidenced by their 5-1 win over New England on Wednesday.
Who to Watch
Sporting Kansas City- Graham Zusi
Whichever position Zusi plays in this match, his presence is going to be vitally important in helping the flow of the attack. If he is on the wing, he'll be trying to create from out wide and draw Galaxy defenders away from Dwyer and Feilhaber in the middle. If he is in the midfield, he will orchestrate the attack out of the middle while allowing Feilhaber to play a box-to-box role in a very creative midfield. Regardless of where he plays, he's going to need to have a good game against this consistently solid Galaxy defense if Sporting KC is going to win.
Los Angeles Galaxy- Tommy Meyer
Tommy Meyer has been an absolute rock in the back for the Galaxy when he has had to step in for Omar Gonzales. One of the reasons the Galaxy have been able to be consistent despite inconsistent back line options has been the ability of Meyer to step in and be an influential centerback. He'll be a big part of covering Dom Dwyer and not allowing the prolific goal-scorer this season to get any space. If he can keep Sporting KC from creating in the middle, Sporting is going to have a hard time scoring.
Why They'll Win
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Kansas City seems to do much better on the road because teams will open up and actually take the game to them instead of bunkering down and playing for the draw. At home, Sporting KC has less success since teams will play for the away point. Los Angeles has enough offensive weapons and a strong enough defense that they can play a fluid game against Sporting KC and have a chance. This allows Sporting to take their high-pressure system and try and control the midfield possession and force multiple opportunities. If the Galaxy are willing to take the game to Sporting KC, Sporting is going to have a better chance to win.
Los Angeles Galaxy
The Galaxy have a good enough defense where they are able to clog the middle and stop any Sporting progress coming out of the midfield. If they stay back a bit and neutralize the effects of Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber, they can force the game out wide and make the fullbacks come up. This allows Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan to catch Sporting on the counter and win with numbers. They may be able to get a result by taking the game straight to Sporting KC but taking the Kinnear approach will give them much better odds.
Sporting Kansas City: Gruenebaum; Juliao, Collin, Besler, Sinovic; Olum, Feilhaber, Zusi; Saad, Dwyer, Dovale.
Los Angeles Galaxy: Penedo; DeLaGarza, Meyer, Leonardo, Rogers; Juninho, Donovan, Walker, Ishizaki, Zardes, Keane.