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Sporting KC v New York Red Bulls: Preview, Predictions, Injuries & Starting XI

A match-up between two of the best teams in the league in Sporting’s first double game week of the season.

MLS: Sporting KC at New York Red Bulls Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC v New York Red Bulls

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 7:30 PM CT

Fox Sports KC+ | MLS Live | fuboTV

A battle of second place teams. It doesn’t have the same shine as a battle of first place teams, but most fans will take second for now. Unless you are Ricky Bobby, because “if you ain’t first, your last.” Sporting Kansas City are currently second in the West while the Red Bulls are second in the East. In the Supporter’s Shield race RBNY (16 points) are a single point ahead of Sporting in third (15 points). If you rank the clubs by points per game, SKC are actually a spot ahead of New York, having played one less game.

As far as recent form, both clubs are in good shape. The Red Bulls have won three straight and though Sporting KC lost to FC Dallas two weeks ago, it’s their only loss on the season.

At home it just gets better. They are undefeated in 2017 and have actually gone 13 consecutive regular season games without a loss (10-0-3). In 2017 RBNY are actually pretty bad on the road with just a single victory and three defeats while allowing nine goals.

A trip to Sporting Park Children’s Mercy Park may do the Red Bulls some good. They are actually unbeaten in three straight games when visiting SKC (2-0-3) and between the two clubs there has been just a single win during the regular season for the home club since 2012. New York has actually only lost once since CMP opened, all the way back in the club’s first meeting there in October 2011.

Red Bulls’ Offseason

The biggest change for the New York Red Bulls in the offseason has to be the loss of Dax McCarty via trade to the Chicago Fire. There was talk around the league that New York would rather trade him too early rather than too late. Dax is now 30-years-old, which isn’t bad considering Sporting are full of guys at or around 30.

McCarty was supposed to be replaced by Homegrown player Sean Davis but has mostly been filled in for by Tyler Adams, who is also a Homegrown player. The Red Bulls are actually loaded with Homegrown talent as they currently have eight on their roster (compared to just three for SKC). And unlike SKC’s Homegrown players, many of the Red Bulls start. You Alex Muyl already has two goals this season.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT: Diego Rubio (torn ACL)

QUESTIONABLE: None

New York Red Bulls

OUT: Gideon Baah (broken leg), Mike Grella (knee injury)

QUESTIONABLE: Aurelien Collin (abdominal strain), Sal Zizzo (calf strain)

Suspensions

Sporting KC - None (Seth Sinovic suspended next yellow card)

New York Red Bulls - None

Recent Form

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

New York Red Bulls - Last Five: L/L/W/W/W (9 Points)

Leading Scorers

  • Sporting KC: Dom Dwyer (3), Benny Feilhaber, Gerso Fernandes (2)
  • New York Red Bulls: Bradley Wright-Phillips (4), Daniel Royer, Alex Muyl (2)

Starting XI Predictions

Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Abdul-Salaam, Mustivar, Blessing, Ellis, Medranda, Saad

Putting a Starting XI prediction into these game previews has been a bit of a formality. Peter Vermes doesn’t change his starters. If Benny Feilhaber hadn’t been injured, I’m sure it would have been the same for every game this season.

That brings us to Wednesday, the first double game week for Sporting KC this season. This will be the second game of a six game stretch over 21 days. Something has to give. Trying to figure out if the rest will begin Wednesday or Sunday (when SKC take on Minnesota United for the first time in MLS) is anyone’s guess. There is something to be said for winning your Conference games, but beating RBNY would really say something.

So I’m just making a single change. Jimmy Medranda goes to the bench for Daniel Salloi. Now Soony Saad has been the choice on the wing when Medranda was forced to the midfield to replace Benny, but Saad is also Dwyer’s likely primary backup at center forward due to Diego Rubio being on the injured list.

As for Medranda, it’s his versatility that sends him to the bench in my mind. Come this weekend if he is needed at attacking midfield (the only other spot he’s started in 2017) or at left back for Seth Sinovic, he could do either.

As for the back line. It is hard to justify breaking up what has worked so well. Matt Besler has thrived with Sinovic and Opara next to him. But Besler and Sinovic are 30 and Opara is injury prone. I just feel it’s more likely SKC take a chance against Minnesota, who are probably the worse of the two opponents this week (though they have more goals than NY and are in much better form lately).

While I can’t help but think Sporting put out a strong lineup at home, I think the Red Bulls are likely to go with a strong lineup too since they have a much easier game against the Philadelphia Union this weekend where they can red players.

One player it sounds like we won’t see Wednesday is former Sporting KC star Aurelien Collin. That’s a shame as it would be his first time back in Kansas City.

Now as for a prediction on who wins this thing. It is so dependent on lineups. Sporting are a team that thrive on consistency. If they put out a bunch of depth players, there could be a dip in productivity. If they play their starters, they should be in good shape. They have six goals in their last two home games and eight over their last three. All while allowing just two goals in.

Could it be that this team has finally started to figure out how to score? Maybe, but it could be that those games were against Real Salt Lake, the Colorado Rapids and the San Jose Earthquakes. Doesn’t feel as impressive.

Prediction: 1-1 Draw

New York continue their unbeaten steak as BWP finds a way to score on KC yet again (those two 2014 late playoff goals are still fresh in my mind). If on the other hand Sporting KC can get up early, the Red Bulls have been vulnerable to the counter and SKC suddenly are stocked with speed on the wings (and the bench). Let’s hope it gets out of hand in a good way.