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Match Preview: Sporting Kansas City vs. Columbus Crew

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With tired legs and a suboptimal lineup selection, Sporting KC rolls into Columbus hoping to avoid a second straight loss.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

About the Teams

Sporting Kansas City

Absolutely nothing went right for Sporting KC in their last match against San Jose as they fell 5-0 at home. They lost their home undefeated run, missed a chance to take first in the Western Conference against a weaker team, lost Benny Feilhaber to a red-card suspension and suffered a humiliating loss. The turnaround is quick and, because of that, some injuries haven't had time to heal, notably Soni Mustivar who is out for the second straight game with a groin strain. With Feilhaber and Mustivar out, the midfield will look very experimental and will likely be a point of attack for the Crew.

Columbus Crew

Columbus are an attack-heavy team. They have 40 goals on the year, most in the Eastern Conference, led by Kei Kamara's prolific scoring in 2015. On the other side of the coin, however, they have given up 41 goals on the year. This balance puts them third in the Eastern Conference, enough for a healthy playoff spot and an outside chance at a shot at the Eastern Conference title if they finish the last two months strong. They're coming off a midweek draw against NYCFC.

Who to Watch

Sporting Kansas City- Saad Abdul-Salaam

Peter Vermes has not pushed Chance Myers this season, continuously easing him back into the lineup. Since he started Wednesday against San Jose, and had a really poor game, it would not be surprising to see Saad Abdul-Salaam get the start. Possibly Columbus' greatest strength is attacking down the wings and standing in their way are two rookie fullbacks for Sporting KC. Abdul-Salaam will need to step up in a big way to give Sporting KC a victory.

Columbus Crew- Kei Kamara

Kamara has been more than advertised so far for Columbus. He's been playing as center forward as has been as prolific as one can be, leading the league with 18 goals. In what he said will be an emotional game for him, he will be going against a Sporting KC team that will have to replace their stalwart defensive midfielder with Amobi Okugo, who looked slow and rusty in his starting debut against San Jose, plus a tired defense. While emotional to be playing against former teammates, Kamara should be salivating about playing Sporting KC right now.

How They'll Win

Sporting Kansas City

Columbus has struggled defensively overall but especially in regards to set pieces and counterattacks. For a Sporting KC team on tired legs, this actually works out well. The strategy here needs to be to close themselves off to the attack of Columbus while being aggressive in the attacking half. Being aggressive can lead to through ball opportunities and fouls resulting in set pieces. While Sporting won't have Feilhaber to take free kicks, they will have Graham Zusi to serve up balls and Dom Dwyer with the ability to put the ball in from distance.

Columbus Crew

Sporting KC are going to be weakest in the midfield without Mustivar and Feilhaber, coincidentally where they have the strongest point of attack. All the Crew need to do in this match is attack the hole in the middle of Sporting KC's lineup and feed Kei Kamara. Sporting have conceded a lot of goals in the past couples matches and are missing key people that should allow the Crew to light up the scoreboard against Sporting KC.

Predictions

Lineups

Reader's Poll SKC Lineup: Melia; Dia, Ellis, Besler, Abdul-Salaam; Mustivar*, Okugo, Nagamura, Zusi; Peterson, Dwyer, Nemeth.

Ben's Sporting KC Lineup: Melia; Dia, Ellis, Besler, Abdul-Salaam; Okugo, Lopez, Zusi; Peterson, Dwyer, Nemeth

Massive Reports' Crew Lineup: Steve Clark, Harrison Afful, Michael Parkhurst, Tyson Wahl, Waylon Francis; Ethan Finlay, Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp, Justin Meram; Federico Higuain; Kei Kamara

Scoreline

Sporting KC 1-3 Columbus Crew