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Match Preview: Sporting Kansas City vs. Colorado Rapids

A short-handed Sporting Kansas City welcomes the Colorado Rapids in a night celebrating 20 years of Major League Soccer.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

About the Teams

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC is under heavy injury strain heading into this match. They are without Chance Myers, Soni Mustivar, Justin Mapp, Kevin Ellis and Paulo Nagamura, and Matt Besler and Brad Davis will be gametime decisions. This, while also coming off a short week, can play havoc into a lineup selection. However, Sporting have won four of their first five games and currently sit atop the Supporters Shield standings. If they can bring in points while waiting for their full strength lineup to return, they'll be in really good shape.

Colorado Rapids

Defense is the strongest suit for the Rapids as they been in very low-scoring games this season. They've only allowed three goals in five games, matching only Sporting Kansas City for fewest goals against. On the other hand, their attack is non-potent as they've only scored three goals in five games, tied with the Crew for fewest goals for. Simply put, the Rapids have been involved in some very low-scoring games in 2016 and are likely to play a very defensive style on the road.

Who to watch

Sporting Kansas City- Saad Abdul Salaam

Saad Abdul Salaam was thrown in the fire in 2015, becoming a reliable starter as a rookie when Myers was injured. So far in 2016 he hasn't started but he'll get his chance with Myers out this match. Against New York, Chance Myers adding to the attack behind Graham Zusi on the wing gave the Red Bulls fits. Abdul Salaam is going to be interesting to watch to see if he can play strong defense for a full match, but also if he can supplement the attack down the wing.

Colorado Rapids- Zac MacMath

When a team plays a bunkering style, the keeper becomes very important. When there's a lot of bodies in the box, the keeper needs to be positioning people and maintaining an open sight line so that they're not burned by a shot sneaking in from outside the box. MacMath has been important to the Rapids as an experienced keeper and if the Rapids do bunker again, he'll continue to be important.

How they'll win

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC need to keep the pressure on and they need to find a way to earn set pieces. The best way to beat a bunker is on set pieces, so if they are able to keep the game physical in the attack third, they may be able to earn free kicks or corner kicks and allow themselves the ability to score on set pieces. Normal attacking won't work and they have to be wary of counter attacks. If they break the bunker once, they'll be in really good shape.

Colorado Rapids

The Rapids need to take advantage of Sporting KC's defensive injuries and keep the threat of a counter attack open. The longer the match goes on scoreless, the more it benefits the Rapids because Sporting KC can continue to pressure the Rapids' back line, but one slip and the Rapids can steal a goal. Games like this have never been Sporting KC's strong suit and since they will have an attacking weakness on the wing with either Connor Hallisey or Jacob Peterson starting, they're going to have problems scoring. Colorado can sneak out a win here.

Predictions

Lineups

Blue Testament Voters' Lineup*: Melia; Myers, Coelho, Opara, Dia; Quintilla, Espinoza, Feilhaber; Hallisey, Dwyer, Zusi

Ben's SKC Lineup: Melia; Abdul Salaam, Coleho, Besler, Dia; Olum, Espinoza, Feilhaber; Hallisey, Dwyer, Zusi

Burgundy Waves' Rapids' Lineup: MacMath, Burch, Sjoberg, Burling, Miller, Cronin, Azira, Gashi, Powers, Pappa, Solignac

*Matt Besler was not listed as available and Chance Myers, who has since been ruled out, was.

Scoreline

Sporting KC 1-0 Colorado Rapids