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Match Preview: Sporting Kansas City vs. DC United

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Sporting Kansas City takes on DC United in one of the biggest Eastern Conference matches of the year.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

About the Teams

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC comes into this match with the top spot in the Eastern Conference and are one of the four teams tied for the Supporters Shield lead. They'll be playing with third-string Jon Kempin, who is making his fourth overall start with the club. Other than that, they should have a full strength lineup, save for the players out for the season. They are coming off a 1-1 draw at Real Esteli in Champions League play this past Tuesday and a 4-1 win over Toronto FC in their last league match.

DC United

DC United comes into this match two points behind Sporting KC in the Eastern Conference but with a game in hand. A win over Sporting would give them a very good advantage when it comes to the Eastern Conference and could even propel them to the top of the Supporters Shield standings. They'll be missing forward Eddie Johnson, who is serving the second game of his two-game suspension for kicking a ball at a player. They are coming off a 1-0 win over Waterhouse in Champions League play and a 4-2 win over Colorado in league play.

Player to Watch

Sporting Kansas City- Seth Sinovic

The performance of Seth Sinovic tonight could play a large part in how Sporting KC fares in this match. He was able to shut down Dominic Oduro last week to keep Toronto FC in check but he has also played 180 minutes in the past seven days. Going up against Nick DeLeon will be a challenge for Sinovic and it could be an area that DC United exploit if Sinovic is not playing up to par. If he is, however, DC United can lose a big potential in their offensive game plan for tonight.

DC United- Luis Silva

Stepping into Eddie Johnson's role is going to be Luis Silva. Silva has worked well this year as a front-line partner to Fabian Espindola and could provide fits to Sporting KC's back line. His ability to convert chances that the midfield gives him is going to be huge in this game. If he and Espindola can work well as a tandem together again tonight, it might give Ben Olsen some time to think about who he wants to go with on his front line going forward. With Sporting KC's defense having played two games in the past week, this might be a perfect time for Silva and Espindola to exploit Sporting's defense.

Why They'll Win

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC can win this match by closing down the midfield and not allowing Silva and Espindola to get the ball. DC United is likely to run with a 4-4-2 attack formation with Kitchen and Arnaud playing in the middle and DeLeon and Rolfe playing wide. The biggest thing for Sporting KC is to neutralize those four players and not allow them to set up Espindola. This will come down to Olum and Feilhaber commanding the midfield with Sinovic and Juliao shutting down opportunities from the wing.

DC United

DC United can win this match by taking advantage of a tired Sporting KC defense and the defensive liability on the right side known as Igor Julaio. If United can provide a lot of pressure down the flanks, they may be able to exploit Juliao or possibly a tired Sinovic. From there, it's all about getting the ball to Espindola and Silva and letting them take care of business. Their defense will also need to step up and force the game wide, allowing Hamid and Boswell to use their aerial abilities to stop crosses, thwarting Sporting's opportunities.

Predictions

Lineups

Sporting Kansas City: Kempin; Juliao, Collin, Besler, Sinovic; Olum, Claros; Feilhaber; Saad, Dwyer, Zusi.

DC United (From Ben Bromley): Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, Taylor Kemp; Nick DeLeon, Davy Arnaud, Perry Kitchen, Chris Rolfe; Luis Silva, Fabian Espindola.

Scoreline

Sporting Kansas City 2-1 DC United