Sporting Kansas City hit the road for the fourth game in the middle of a five game, 15,000 plus mile journey. This will mark back-to-back games against the Vancouver Whitecaps that are merely three days apart. This time the clubs will meet not in MLS play, but in CONCACAF Champions League. The game can only be viewed on the CONCACAF Facebook page and will start at 9:00PM CT on Tuesday, August 23, 2016, so at least you should be off of work.
Over the weekend Sporting KC played a very effective game, despite the lineup being littered with backups, and pulled off a 2-0 victory over the Caps. This marks the second game in the CCL for Sporting KC in 2016. They came up with a 2-2 draw on the road against Central FC last Tuesday while in Trinidad and Tobago. This will be the second game out of a minimal of four. Sporting KC will then have home games against the Whitecaps and Central FC. This game with the Caps will be their fourth of 2016 and the yet forthcoming return match will mark five meetings in well under a year.
Instead of boring you with the same preview you just read three days ago (click that link for fun stats), let's highlight what has changed. Neither team is dealing with any suspensions, but the lineups are likely to look quite different. Sporting are dealing with a handful of injuries (still!) and have played four times in 10 days. Though nothing has been announced officially, our own Thad Bell has word more SPR players may be coming over on loan. With that in mind, here are the injuries and Starting XI predictions.
– Sporting KC:
OUT: Justin Mapp (left calf strain), Tim Melia (back injury), Chance Myers (hamstring strain), Seth Sinovic (ankle injury)
QUESTIONABLE: Nuno Andre Coelho (hamstring strain), Brad Davis (left calf strain), Ike Opara (ankle), Lawrence Olum (adductor strain)
OUT: Christian Dean (meniscus tear), Kekuta Manneh (right foot surgery), Jordan Harvey (left knee sprain)
QUESTIONABLE: Marco Bustos (left eye injury), Tim Parker (knee sprain)
Starting XI Prediction:
Abdul-Salaam – Ellis – Didic – Alvarado
Feilhaber – Ualefi – Nagamura
Hallisey – Rubio – Davis
Rest of the 18: Kann, Dwyer, Espinoza, Pasher, Besler, Mustivar, Porter
I'm very torn on who will end up on the field in this CCL game. Let me tell you why. This game is do or die for our CCL hopes. The reason is Vancouver won on the road against Central FC. If they win, it's basically a done deal as they have a home game against Central FC where a win would put them through (remember, only the top seeded team of the group advances). Sporting at least need a draw, that's why it's feasible we could see more starters than we saw against Central FC.
That said, there are going to be tired legs with this many games so close together and yet another cross country trip set for this weekend against Philadelphia. I think Vermes will try to balance the number of regular starters and Swope Park Rangers and backups that will take the pitch. I'd love to see Tyler Pasher get a start (he inexplicably has been left out of SPR games to sit on the bench with Sporting) but I doubt that will happen. He could be a future winger for the first time and no offense to Connor Hallisey, he seems quicker and more dynamic (though that is against lesser competition).
Despite Kevin Ellis having played a ton recently, he is more familiar with Amer Didic and I expect them to start together. If Myers is truly still out, there are no options at right back other than Saad Abdul-Salaam. Additionally Ever Alvarado has played alongside Didic and Ellis at SPR, so that makes sense on the left. The midfield is a toss up, but our own Thad Bell reports Ualefi could be loaned to SKC and he did leave at halftime on Sunday no doubt to prepare for this possible next outing. Up front Rubio has been decent and Brad Davis played well alongside him last week in T&T.
Sporting have been absolutely dominant against Vancouver and I'm hoping they find a way to at least pull out the tie. I think they rested enough starters that it could be in the cards for them. If Jon Kempin can get back to his recent form with SPR instead of that awful showing he had last week, it's a distinct possibility.