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Sporting KC vs San Jose Earthquakes: Preview, Predictions, Injuries & Starting XI

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Sporting KC head to the West Coast to take on the San Jose Earthquakes

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Sporting KC Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC vs San Jose Earthquakes (#SJvSKC)

Saturday, June 17th, 2017 at 8:00pm CT

Fox Sports KC | MLS Live

After stepping away from MLS play for the US Open Cup in the midweek, Sporting Kansas City is back in MLS play this weekend with a trip to Avaya Stadium to take on the San Jose Earthquakes.

Both teams fielded a lineup on the midweek that had a number of first team players in it, while Sporting fielded the likes of Matt Besler, Dom Dwyer, Gerso Fernandes, and Ike Opara, the Earthquakes started the likes of Victor Bernardez, Simon Dawkins, and Chris Wondolowski for their 2-0 win over the NASL’s San Francisco Deltas. This could make for a few heavy legs among the expected starters for both teams come the game tomorrow.

The last time these two teams met, Sporting KC clinched their spot in the 2016 MLS Cup playoffs, beating the Earthquakes 2-0 at Children’s Mercy Park on Decision Day 2017 thanks to goals by Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi.

This time though KC will be heading out on the road to take on the Earthquakes, somewhere that has not been kind to Kansas City over the years. In fact, last year’s 2-1 win at Avaya Stadium on September 24th was Kansas City’s first win in San Jose since a 3-0 win at Spartan Stadium in the year 2000. It ended a 16 league game winless run (18 counting playoffs) on the road for KC against the Earthquakes.

The Earthquakes though have just a single loss so far at home this season in seven games, going 3-1-3 with the lone loss being a 4-2 defeat to the Galaxy. Sporting on the other hand have had struggles on the road this year, with just a single win through their first eight road games (1-4-3).

Injuries

Sporting KC

QUESTIONABLE: Erik Palmer-Brown (thigh injury), Latif Blessing (hip injury), Diego Rubio (torn ACL)

San Jose

OUT: Quincy Amarikwa (knee surgery 9/29, out 9 months), Marvell Wynne (heart abnormality), Marc Pelosi (left knee injury), Harold Cummings (leg surgery, 3/30, out 4-6 months), Florian Jungwrith (ankle injury)

QUESTIONABLE: Shaun Francis (hamstring injury), Fatai Alashe (knee injury), Shea Salinas (knee injury)

Suspensions

Sporting KC - none

San Jose - Darwin Ceren (red card), Marco Urena (Disciplinary Committee)

International Duty

Sporting KC - none

San Jose - Kip Colvey (New Zealand)

Recent Form

Sporting KC - Last Five D/W/L/L/W (7 points)

San Jose - Last Five W/L/D/W/L (7 points)

Leading Scorers

Sporting KC - Gerso Fernandes (6), Dom Dwyer (5), Latif Blessing, Benny Feilhaber (2)

San Jose - Chris Wondolowski (6), Jahmir Hyka (3), Anibal Godoy, Florian Jungwrith (2)

Starting XI Predictions

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

Vermes seems set to ride his best team as long as he can this season, so while all 11 starters had time against Minnesota on Wednesday expecting them all to start again Saturday shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone at all.

If Vermes does want to rest someone, quite a few fans would point to giving Roger Espinoza a break in favor of Soni Mustivar. While Espinoza played on both Saturday vs Montreal and Wednesday vs Minnesota numerous times you could see him reaching for his back during stoppages of play. The injury that forced him to withdraw from the Honduran team seems to still be causing him some trouble. Giving him a break at this point would probably be for his, and the team’s, long term benefit as the season continues on. And while Mustivar had the poor pass to set up Montreal’s equalizer last week he is a solid player and could fill in for a game to give Espinoza a night off.

Vermes could also choose to rest Opara tomorrow against his former club as has been Vermes’ strategy with Opara the last two times that Kansas City has played three games in eight days. Unlike the prior two games (at Minnesota and at Vancouver) though the game tomorrow isn’t on turf, so Vermes could look to push his favored starting central defense. Inserting Kevin Ellis again would be the obvious replacement if Vermes does rest Opara. At the same time, fans will be screaming for Erik Palmer-Brown to start if he’s healthy enough to go and Vermes decides to sit Opara.

Predicition: 1-1 Draw

San Jose is a depleted team right now with injuries and suspensions, and could be easily seen as a team to beat tomorrow. But KC’s troubles on the road this season and in San Jose in general give me pause. Add in the Dominic Kinnear factor and his ability to always have his teams ready to face Vermes’ coached teams and I think KC escape with a draw on the road tomorrow.