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Sporting KC at Vancouver Whitecaps: Preview, Predictions, Injuries & Starting XI

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SKC look to make it two in a road to further cement their hold on first place in the Western Conference.

MLS: CONCACAF Champions League-Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Sporting Kansas City Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC @ Vancouver Whitecaps (#VANvSKC)

Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 6:00 PM CT

Fox Sports KC | MLS Live | fuboTV | TSN

Something amazing is happening for Sporting Kansas City. They have two games — in a row no less — where someone other than Dom Dwyer has scored multiple goals. Prior to Gerso Fernandeshat trick on Wednesday and Latif Blessing’s brace last weekend the club had gone 50 regular season games without that happening. Benny Feilhaber pulled this off in 2015 against FC Dallas. 50 games then one game. Crazy.

The offense for SKC may finally be coming to life. If you watched the first half of the Seattle Sounders game you may disagree with me. The team absolutely dominated possession but failed to get off a shot. I guess they were looking for the perfect chance. Gerso sure found those chances as he pulled off his hat trick within a 13-minute stretch of the game.

Now the club must go back on the road where they have struggled this season (1-2-3) to play their third game in eight days. They will play a Whitecaps team that is in the final playoff spot in the Western Conference (though it’s only May) and is in decent home form (2-1-1). The Whitecaps were on a two game winning streak before going on the road and being robbed against Houston. Seriously, check out this awful PK call. Kendall Waston’s reputation may have led to this call but in no way should that be a PK.

If not for that call then it’s highly likely Vancouver would be undefeated in their last three and would have picked up their first draw since their opening game. That said, Vancouver aren’t exactly beating the leagues best teams. They have four wins and not a single one of those clubs is currently ranked in a playoff spot (LA Galaxy, Colorado Rapids, Montreal Impact and Seattle Sounders).

That doesn’t mean SKC should rest easy, though their recent history is a positive one against Vancouver. They are 4-0-1 in their last five and 6-1-3 all-time against the Caps. That one loss however did come at BC Place.

Whitecaps’s Offseason

The past doesn’t always predict the future and Vancouver have made quite a few changes since last season between offseason moves and one fairly large trade this year. Gone are Blas Perez, Giles Barnes and Masato Kudo. On top of that long time Whitecaps Pedro Morales is gone. Likely due to a combination of a higher salary and lots of injuries, though he always found a way to score.

Another big shock was the trade of Kekuta Manneh to the Columbus Crew in exchange for Tony Tchani and $300,000 in various types of allocation money. Manneh was at one time seen as the future of the club, but like that he is gone.

As for incoming players, there are quite a few veteran role players that have come on board such as Brek Shea, Sheanon Williams and Mauro Rosales. The biggest move was the signing of Designated Player Fredy Montero, formerly of the Sounders. Fredy has proved to be the club’s leading scorer this year but time will tell if his production matches the dollars he’s making.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT: Diego Rubio (torn ACL)

QUESTIONABLE: Soony Saad (ankle sprain), Dom Dwyer (knee injury)

Whitecaps

OUT: Brett Levis (ACL tear), Yordy Reyna (foot surgery), David Edgar (PCL, MCL tear), Erik Hurtado (left foot contusion), Christian Dean (foot injury), Bernie Ibini (right hamstring strain)

QUESTIONABLE: None

Suspensions

Sporting KC - None (Seth Sinovic will now not be suspended the next yellow due to five games of good behavior)

Whitecaps - None (Matias Laba suspended next yellow card)

International Duty

Sporting KC - Erik Palmer-Brown (USA U-20 World Cup)

Whitecaps - None

Recent Form

Sporting KC - Last Five: W/W/L/D/W (10 Points)

Whitecaps - Last Five: W/L/W/W/L (9 Points)

Leading Scorers

  • Sporting KC: Dom Dwyer, Gerso Fernandes (5), Latif Blessing, Benny Feilhaber (2)
  • Whitecaps: Fredy Montero (4), Cristian Techera, Matias Laba, Brek Shea (2)

Starting XI Predictions

Starting XI

Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Abdul-Salaam, Mustivar, Dwyer, Ellis, Salloi, Porter

I should know better by now than to pick any starting lineup that is different than what Peter Vermes always trots out. Only once as Vermes changed his lineup for something other than injury and that was a disastrous 2-0 loss to Minnesota United on the road.

That said, I’m going against my own logic and saying Dom Dwyer sits out again. Last weekend he missed due to yellow card accumulation but word is he has picked up a knee injury. If that’s true it seems like the perfect time to rest him. He cannot help but get into physical confrontations with the much bigger Kendall Waston. Also, with the emergence of Blessing as an option at center forward (two goals in his only MLS start ever), Dwyer doesn’t need to play.

I’ll go ahead and say the rest of the lineup remains unchanged even though it will be the third game in eight days for all the rest of the players. However, the Minnesota game, which had the years first non-injury related lineup change, was also the third in eight days, so who knows what to expect.

If it was up to me I’d rest Graham Zusi for Saad Abdul-Salaam and Roger Espinoza for Soni Mustivar. I’d also like to see Opara get more rest but I just don’t trust Kevin Ellis as his replacement based on his last performance but that could have been mostly the fault of Igor Juliao who had an awful game. But that’s just what I’d like, not what I think will happen.

As for this games outcome, it feels really hard to play really well so many times so close together. If players like Blessing and Gerso can keep finding the back of the net, it’s anyone’s game. If the back line remains as stout as they have over the course of the season, the club should win. But SKC have conceded four goals in their last two road games despite only giving up three more for the entire rest of the season.

This could be another Minnesota when the lesser team steals it. Though it feels like Sporting can at least grind out a point.

Prediction: 1-1 Draw

I’ve been getting awfully decent at this prediction thing lately. I even predicted a 3-0 win over Seattle, which looked really shaky in the first half. I’m due to get one wrong again. Let us know what you think will be the outcome.