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Sporting KC at Orlando City: Preview, Predictions, Injuries & Starting XI

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SKC look to bounce back after only their second loss of the season against their former USL affiliate.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Sporting KC John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC @ Orlando City (#ORLvSKC)

Satuday, May 13, 2017 at 6:00 PM CT

Fox Sports KC | MLS Live | fuboTV

Sporting Kansas City and Orlando City are teams with a history. Before Orlando joined MLS as an expansion franchise in 2015 the clubs had an affiliation agreement where Sporting loaned players down to the USL. These loans weren’t just scrubs either, they include former player and current MLS Golden Boot leader CJ Sapong as well as current players Kevin Ellis and Christian Duke (Swope Park Rangers).

Most notably they loaned out a Mr. Dominic Dwyer who actually led Orlando to the USL Pro Championship and netted a mere four goals in the final game. Unfortunately for Sporting KC fans Dwyer picked up a one match ban for his fifth yellow card on the season. Orlando fans will likely be a little sad not to see Dwyer, but will mostly be thrilled not to play him.

These two clubs come into this match sitting in second of their respective conferences with both having 18 points (though Sporting have played one more game). The clubs have a fairly balances history having both taken two wins and two losses in the series. In MLS play the home side has won each game and they have a 1-1 record in US Open matches from when Orlando was in USL.

The last time the clubs met was last May when Sporting utterly dominated Orlando but nearly lost the match. SKC out shot Orlando 34-7 and OCSC actually didn’t even register a shot on goal. You heard that right, no shots on goal and they almost won. Jimmy Medranda had an own goal before Dwyer and Jacob Peterson pulled back goals to gain the win.

Orlando’s Offseason

Things haven’t changed drastically in Orlando but moves have been made. Maybe the most important move was Jason Kreis becoming Orlando’s coach. The club went from two straight seasons of missing the playoffs to having the second best points per game (2.00) behind only FC Dallas (and tied with Toronto FC).

In addition to the coaching change Orlando had a huge subtraction after trading away Kevin Molino to Minnesota United. In his place the team added several veterans across all their lines including Will Johnson, Jonathan Spector and Giles Barnes.

It’s possible the biggest move they made was not trading Cyle Larin. Larin once again leads the club in goals scored and looks to be a real star for Orlando and his native Canada. It’ll be interesting to see if the rumors finally come true and he gets sold over the summer.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT: Diego Rubio (torn ACL)

QUESTIONABLE: Graham Zusi (knee) <— this should be probable, but like the NFL we don’t have that category.

Orlando City

OUT: Kevin Alston (knee)

QUESTIONABLE: Rafael Ramos (hamstring injury)

Suspensions

Sporting KC - Dom Dwyer [yellow card accumulation] (Seth Sinovic suspended next yellow card)

Orlando City - None

Recent Form

Sporting KC - Last Five: W/L/W/W/L (9 Points)

Orlando City - Last Five: W/W/W/L/L (9 Points)

Leading Scorers

  • Sporting KC: Dom Dwyer (5), Benny Feilhaber, Gerso Fernandes (2)
  • Orlando City: Cyle Larin (6), Kaka (2)

Starting XI Predictions

Rest of the 18: Dykstra, Abdul-Salaam, Mustivar, Blessing, Ellis, Salloi, Porter

Here we are again, trying to predict a new Starting XI. Last Sunday’s lost appeared to be a direct result of playing Igor Juliao at right back. Kevin Ellis wasn’t amazing, but I’m tempted to blame Juliao for so consistently being out of position. It feels like a situation that will lead Vermes to immediately jump back to his preferred eleven.

The only problem with that is Dom Dwyer is suspended. Because of that he’ll have to be replaced and his best friend Soony Saad seems like the most likely candidate. While there are other options like Daniel Salloi and Cameron Porter, Saad got most of the preseason minutes in the middle. Saad also previously had a brace against Orlando, but that was a completely different team in 2012 during the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

As for the rest of the lineup, there is good debate around if this many starters should play. Sporting once again play three times in eight days with games against the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps forthcoming. For your part, the fan voting for the starting eleven matches the above with one exception. Medranda got less votes than Salloi. It’s unclear (since we don’t make you pick) if people was Salloi in the center or out wide left, but it might be a smart move since Feilhaber may need to rest soon and Medranda is his only real backup at the #10 role.

As for how the game should go, as always, it’s tough to say. Orlando are struggling having lost their last two games by a combined 6-1 score (including a 4-0 beating from Houston). Though those were road games. At home they are a perfect 5-0 since opening their new stadium. That’s extra pain to Sporting who let Orlando officials tour Sporting Park Children’s Mercy Park when they were trying to decide what to incorporate into their stadium.

It feels like the home pitch will be a fortress for teams to try to break when they play against Orlando and that purple wall. It also isn’t a positive sign that SKC haven’t looked great on the road. Their only two losses have come on the road and they have scored just a single goal on the season.

The knock against Sporting KC is often that they cannot score goals. The same could be said of Orlando as both clubs only have 11 goals on the season. The difference is Orlando have eight of those at home.

Prediction: 1-0 Orlando Win

Without Dwyer, Sporting will struggle to score. Here is hoping for a nil nil draw and a stolen point on the road. It’s a shame the Swope Park Rangers can’t just play this game so everyone else can get fresh for Seattle and Vancouver.