About the Teams
Sporting Kansas City
The wearing down of Sporting KC's roster in 2015 continues this weekend as they'll be without Servando Carrasco due to a suspension. This leaves the defensive midfield in the hands of Soni Mustivar, who has not seen enough match time for Sporting KC to warrant judgement on his play. Other than that, it's a possibility that left back Seth Sinovic returns to the pitch tonight but Marcel de Jong is likely to get the start. For the others, it's likely Sporting KC shows a similar lineup to their match against Houston last week.
After three lackluster matches to begin the season, the Chicago Fire have, well, caught fire. They are winners of three straight and were able to keep a 1-0 lead in their latest win over NYCFC. They have an interesting attack that has held up well so far and is still awaiting the return of Mike Magee. Their defense has also been fairly solid throughout the winning streak. It's very early in the season but the Fire's performances possibly signal a change in their struggles from the past few seasons.
Who to Watch
Sporting Kansas City- Soni Mustivar
Sporting Kansas City fans were told in early February by Robb Heinemann that the club had purchased a defensive midfielder, one of the highest priority signings by Sporting that fans were expecting. While Mustivar hasn't come in and been a direct replacement for Uri Rosell, he'll get his chance to get a full match under his belt with Sporting KC. He'll be going up against a decent front line for Chicago containing Harry Shipp and Kennedy Igboananike and, with a back line featuring Kevin Ellis and Jalil Anibaba, he'll need to be a good backstop to keep Sporting KC off their toes.
Chicago Fire- Harry Shipp
With a goal and three assists to his name in six matches, Harry Shipp has been the backbone of the Chicago Fire attack. He'll have a huge role this afternoon going up against a weakened Sporting Kansas City back line and midfield and if he can keep the ball in the Fire's attacking half and away from Sporting KC's playmakers in Benny Feilhaber, Graham Zusi and Dom Dwyer then the Fire stand an excellent chance to win their fourth straight.
Why They'll Win
Sporting Kansas City
The biggest thing for Chicago this year is that they have been getting goals from somewhere other than striker. Kennedy Igboananike is dangerous on reputation alone and no one on the team has more than one goal. Sporting KC can win this match by focusing their energy on stopping Harry Shipp and David Accam and then allowing Roger Espinoza and Benny Feilhaber to create in the midfield. The fullbacks are going to be a large part in Sporting KC's defensive efforts today and if de Jong and Anibaba can come up large then Sporting KC will be in good shape.
As shown repeatedly last week in Houston, the loss of Ike Opara hurts Sporting Kansas City tremendously on set pieces. Now, the Fire don't have Brad Davis sending in free kicks but if they can get in position where they're constantly sending in good balls to the box then the Fire are going to threaten. This will come through attacking down the flanks, pressuring the fullbacks and winning free kicks. If they can take advantage of a weakened Sporting KC defense then they'll put themselves in good position to win.
Sporting KC: Marin; de Jong, Besler, Ellis, Anibaba; Mustivar, Feilhaber, Espinoza; Nemeth, Dwyer, Zusi
Chicago Fire (From Sean Spence): Sean Johnson; Joevin Jones, Adailton, Jeff Larentowicz, Eric Gehrig; Matt Polster, Razvan Cocis; David Accam, Shaun Maloney, Harry Shipp; Kennedy Igboananike.