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Sporting KC v SJ Earthquakes: It All Comes Down to This

We preview, try to predict, update on injuries and suspensions and add some analysis to the Decision Day match-up between Sporting KC and the Earthquakes.

MLS: Sporting KC at San Jose Earthquakes Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC v SJ Earthquakes

Saturday, October 23, 2016 at 3:00 PM CT

38 The Spot | SKCTV | MLS Live

Sporting Kansas City will see their season on the line entering the final game of the season against the San Jose Earthquakes. It’s really simple for them, win and you’re in. There are other complicated ways they can make it in and even win a four seed. Here they are courtesy of SportingKC.com:

  1. Win vs. San Jose, OR
  2. Draw vs. San Jose AND Portland Timbers loss or draw at Vancouver Whitecaps FC, OR
  3. Loss vs. San Jose AND Portland Timbers lose at Vancouver by equal or greater margin than does Sporting KC

And how can Sporting KC clinch a No. 4 seed and a home playoff game on Oct. 26 or 27?

  1. Win vs. San Jose AND Real Salt Lake ties Seattle Sounders FC AND Portland loss or draw at Vancouver, OR
  2. Win vs. San Jose AND Real Salt Lake ties Seatlte Sounders FC and Portland beats Vancouver by equal or lesser margin than Sporting KC beats San Jose

SKC return to Children’s Mercy Park after a so-so road trip where they started by stealing a win against San Jose before losing to the Revs and gutting out a draw against RSL. Thankfully this is a home game where Sporting are 9-4-3 on the season and they have gone eight straight without a loss (6-0-2).

The bad news is their choice of opponent. The Earthquakes haven’t been good this year (they are eliminated from the MLS Cup Playoffs already and have nothing to play for) but up until recently they’ve owed Sporting. Their three game winning streak was snapped four weeks ago but they’ll be anything but a push-over. Remember, the last time these teams met at CMP was a 5-0 thrashing by SJ.

Suspended:

– Sporting KC: None

– Earthquakes: Anibal Godoy (yellow card accumulation)

Injuries:

– Sporting KC:

OUT: Diego Rubio (Torn ACL)

QUESTIONABLE: Justin Mapp (left calf strain), Chance Myers (thigh strain), Brad Davis (calf injury), Jacob Peterson (thigh injury)

– Earthquakes:

OUT: Quincy Amarikwa (Torn ACL), Marc Pelosi (tendinitis left knee), Mark Sherrod (left knee surgery), Clarence Goodson (back injury)

Sporting Kansas City’s Last Five: D/D/W/L/D (Six Points)

San Jose's Last Five: L/L/W/L/D (Four Points)

Goal Leader(s):

– Sporting KC: Dom Dwyer (16), Jacob Peterson/Benny Feilhaber (6)

– Earthquakes: Chris Wondolowski (12), Simon Dawkins (5)

Starting XI Prediction:

Melia

Abdul-Salaam – Ellis – Besler – Medranda

Feilhaber – Mustivar – Nagamura

Espinoza – Dwyer – Zusi

Rest of the 18: Kann, Porter, Opara, Sinovic, Peterson, Coelho, Davis

The starting lineup is always a tough to predict but I’ll stick with the lineup trotted out last week. Roger Espinoza was surprisingly effective as a winger and really did a pretty good job of staying wide. Jacob Peterson has been upgraded to questionable, but I doubt he has 90 minutes in him, even if he is marvelous at home this season.

This also means Kevin Ellis stays in the lineup with Matt Besler. They have looked good together recently and Ellis has even done a good job (gasp!) though I’d still prefer Ike Opara or Nuno Andre Coelho. Brad Davis is also now questionable and it’ll be interesting to see if he plays in what could be the last MLS game of his career. Even Justin Mapp is questionable now, but I don’t expect to see him, though he could steal a bench spot from Opara or Coelho. And if disaster strikes and Dwyer goes down, it appears Cameron Porter is now the depth at center-forward based on him playing there in the CCL game after Rubio tore his ACL last week.

Whoever takes the field they will be defending a five-year streak of making the playoffs. Since the Kansas City Wizards have become Sporting Kansas City, they haven’t missed the playoffs. Last season they went into Decision Day and defeated the LA Galaxy when it mattered. The Earthquakes are much worse than the Galaxy, but lets hope they aren’t treated that way.

There is a part of me that wants Sporting KC to miss the playoffs (I mean not really, but stick with me). Continually slipping in as the sixth seed and then promptly losing on the road and getting knocked out may not be motivating this team to really turn things around. Maybe missing the playoffs would cause the team to be more aggressive in the offseason like nearly every fan wants. And let’s be honest, 12 teams shouldn’t make the playoffs in a 20-team league. When the league expands to 22-teams next year, then we can let 12 in.

This team is full of veterans and strong leaders so it seems the team will find a way. They were dominated by the Earthquakes on the road but found a way to win. They were dominated by Real Salt Lake last week and they found a way to earn a draw. Tim Melia has been on fire and may not even need to be again today. The Earthquakes are the lowest scoring team in MLS. Sporting aren’t much better, but they have scored the vast majority of their goals at home.

Prediction: 2-1 Sporting KC

The crowd will be rowdy and ready to push this team to the playoffs. The Cauldron probably have a great tifo ready to motivate these players after three straight road games.

No matter what happens with SKC, be sure to watch the Swope Park Rangers attempt to win the USL Cup in their debut season on ESPN U at 7:00 PM CT tonight. If I can only get one win today, I want it to be SPR. They are the future, even if two of the likely SKC players of the future have torn their ACLs this year (Ualefi and Kevin Oliveira). Other future Sporting players like Ayrton, Amer Didic, Omar Ballo, Mark Anthony Gonzalez, Tyler Pasher and Kris Tyrpak will likely be in action.