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Sporting Kansas City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps Match Preview

Sporting Kansas City can start the year off with two wins, but standing in their way is a tough Vancouver Whitecaps squad.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

About the Teams

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City managed to escape Seattle last week with a 1-0 win, in which they had a man advantage the entire second half. They are still somewhat hobbled by injuries, with Justin Mapp and Paulo Nagamura already ruled out for this match, but Brad Davis and Seth Sinovic will be available tonight. Benny Feilhaber is still questionable but if he can't go, then expect a two-holding midfielder style approach with Jordi Quintilla and Roger Espinoza that we saw last week.

Vancouver Whitecaps

The Whitecaps fell 3-2 against Montreal last week but seemed poised to have another successful season where they contend for the Western Conference. They will be missing Christian Bolanos on a one-game match suspension but they will have scoring depth Blas Perez and the ever-dangerous Pedro Morales sending the ball up to Kekuta Manneh. On the defensive side they'll have the big Kendall Watson, who will be in charge of trying to contain Dom Dwyer.

Who to Watch

Sporting Kansas City- Jordi Quintilla

With Benny Feilhaber not training on Friday, it's likely that Peter Vermes will go with a similar lineup that he did, which means that Jordi Quintilla could get a start. He gets to balance being a holding midfielder with Roger Espinoza also playing that role while also providing some of the service needed to get the ball up to the front three. Sporting is going to need a bit of a creative presence in the middle, otherwise Vancouver is going to shut down the flanks and keep Sporting away from goal, so Quintilla is the big cog in that strategy.

Vancouver Whitecaps- Kendall Waston

The Whitecaps' 6'5" centerback is going to be trouble for Sporting KC in a number of ways. The first is on set pieces, when Sporting does not have the height to either defend Waston or to attack when he's in the box, although Nuno Andre Coelho is only a couple inches shorter. The most important thing Waston brings to the table is that he is very physical and he's going up against a physical forward in Dom Dwyer. The battle between those two should be really fun to watch.

How They'll Win

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC need to be able to attack well down the flanks. They should have both Graham Zusi and Brad Davis available for this match, which means they'll have a couple of creative options up top. Since there's not going to be an abundance of creativity coming from the middle, it's going to be up to Zusi and Davis to provide balls into the box. On the other end, Sporting's defense needs to be able to contain Manneh and Morales, but they should be well suited to do that, if their performance against Seattle is any indication.

Vancouver Whitecaps

Kendall Waston is a beast on the backline for the Whitecaps but one of their new defenders, Fraser Aird, had an awful game last week against the Impact. So, for the Whitecaps to win, Aird needs to step his game up around the level of Waston. Aird is even more important this game because the majority of Sporting KC's attack this game is going to be coming from the wings and if Aird cannot play a part in shutting that down, the Sporting is going to have so many opportunities to score.

Predictions

Lineups

Reader's Poll SKC Lineup: Melia; Myers, Coelho, Besler, Dia; Mustivar, Espinoza, Feilhaber; Davis, Dwyer, Zusi

Ben's Sporting KC Lineup: Melia; Myers, Coelho, Besler, Sinovic; Mustivar, Espinoza, Quintilla; Davis, Dwyer, Zusi

86 Forever's Whitecaps Lineup: Ousted-Aird-Waston-Parker-Harvey-Laba-Teibert-Techera-Manneh-Morales-Rivero

Scoreline

Sporting KC 2-2 Vancouver