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Match Preview: Sporting Kansas City at Chivas USA

Sporting KC look to avoid a fifth straight loss as they head to StubHub Center to face off with Chivas USA.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

About the Teams

Sporting Kansas City

Four straight losses and a quickly dwindling chance at first place in the Eastern Conference bring Sporting Kansas City into this match in desperate need of three points. The good news is they had a better, not great, but better defensive performance against New York Red Bulls in their last match, which could signify a return to their usual, staunch defensive ways. The return of Paulo Nagamura to the midfield also provides Sporting KC with a starting presence in the midfield that they've sorely lacked the past few games.

Chivas USA

Chivas USA have been having a poor season with no signs of letting up. They've currently lost five of their last six matches and haven't won since July 12th. They traded away Mauro Rosales, one of the best playmakers on the team, to Vancouver for Nigel Reo-Coker. Reo-Coker, however, seems to be adjusting well and could provide some trouble for Sporting KC in the midfield. They will not have Erick "Cubo" Torres for this match, which will help Sporting KC contain the Goats' offense.

Who to Watch

Sporting Kansas City- Matt Besler

Sporting KC have had their defensive issues as of late and Matt Besler is no exception. His performance against New York was one of the worst of the season (an admittedly high bar), so tonight's match will be interesting to see how he bounces back. Chivas isn't the best offensive team, plus they will be missing their best goalscorer. This match shouldn't necessarily be looked at as a cakewalk but it should be looked at as a game Sporting KC should win.

Chivas USA- Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy is one of the better goalkeepers in the league and has frustrated Sporting KC to a result a few times in the past couple of years and could come up huge for the Goats in this match. This could end up being a game where Sporting KC controls possession and gets lots of shots off, but Chivas plays men behind the ball and the only shots that go towards goal are savable shots. Kennedy's performance in this game likely won't be the only factor in tonight's decision but there can be a big difference between a good performance and a bad one for the Chivas keeper.

Why They'll Win

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City have both the right personnel and the right system to win this match. Chivas have the worst goal differential in the league by quite a large margin, which means they're giving up lots of goals without scoring many to even out the goal differential such as Portland or San Jose. Sporting KC showed signs of returning to form against New York, this match against Chivas should mark the full recovery.

Chivas USA

While Sporting KC looks to be the much better team on paper, a number of factors can switch this game over to Chivas' favor. If Sporting KC is playing bad defensively and lets in a goal early, Chivas can play men behind the ball and frustrate Sporting KC's attack. They can be dangerous on a counter if the wingbacks are too far forward or they can simply take advantage of Lawrence Olum's recent poor form on the ball. It would take quite a lot for Chivas to come away with a win this match but we said that about Houston a couple of weeks ago too.

Predictions

Lineups

Sporting Kansas City: Gruenebaum; Juliao, Collin, Besler, Sinovic; Olum, Nagamura, Feilhaber; Dovale, Dwyer, Zusi.

Chivas USA: (From Alicia Rodriguez): GK: Dan Kennedy
D: Akira Kaji, Bobby Burling, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Tony Lochhead
M: Eric Avila, Oswaldo Minda, Nigel Reo-Coker, Nathan Sturgis
F: Felix Borja, Ryan Finley.

Scoreline