Sporting KC vs Montreal Impact (SKCvMTL)
Saturday, June 10, 2017 at 7:00 PM CT
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This weekend marks the time when most leagues around the world shut down for a FIFA break. The United States are in the middle of two important World Cup qualifiers and many other countries are trying to do the same or simply playing in friendlies. Major League Soccer is not observing this break. Because of that both Sporting Kansas City and the Montreal Impact will be at far less than 100 percent.
On one side Sporting are down two starters from their back line (Besler and Zusi) and another who started at forward last week (Saad). The Impact on the other hand are without their midfield duo of Bernier and Dzemaili as well as defensive stalwart Laurent Ciman. That says nothing of the injuries that both clubs are dealing with heading into the game.
Outside of injuries and international duty, recent history suggests that Sporting KC have an advantage. In the last five meetings between the clubs SKC are undefeated (4-0-1). All-time the series in Kansas City is much closer as Montreal are 2-3-0 but they haven’t won in
Sporting Park Children’s Mercy Park since 2013 when both clubs were in the Eastern Conference.
As for individual match-ups. Some clever person on the internet once said that Dom Dwyer is the owner of the Montreal Impact. Not because he stumbled into hundreds of millions of dollars but because he just scores goals against Montreal. In fact Dwyer has scored nine times against the Impact despite only playing them six times. In 2014, over the three meetings between the clubs, he scored twice in each game. Dwyer didn’t start the last time out, but he played 29 minutes and it seems like a good time to play him with Montreal dealing with so many defensive absences.
OUT: Kevin Ellis (quadriceps muscle strain), Erik Palmer-Brown (thigh injury)
QUESTIONABLE: Roger Espinoza (back spasms), Latif Blessing (hip), Diego Rubio (torn ACL)
OUT: Andres Romero (hamstring injury), Matteo Mancosu (thigh injury)
QUESTIONABLE: Hernan Bernardello (undisclosed injury), Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla (undisclosed injury), Louis Beland-Goyette (undisclosed injury)
Sporting KC - None [Seth Sinovic will be suspended the next yellow card]
Montreal - None
Sporting KC - Matt Besler, (United States) Graham Zusi (United States), Tyler Pasher (Canada), Soony Saad (Lebanon)
Montreal - Patrice Bernier (Canada), Laurent Ciman (Belgium), Maxime Crepeau (Canada), Blerim Dzemaili (Switzerland), Anthony Jackson-Hamel (Canada), Wandrille Lefevre (Canada), Ambroise Oyongo (Cameroon)
Sporting KC - Last Five: D/W/L/L/W (7 Points)
Montreal - Last Five: L/W/L/W/W (9 Points)
- Sporting KC: Dom Dwyer, Gerso Fernandes (5), Latif Blessing, Benny Feilhaber (2)
- Montreal: Ignacio Piatti (6), Anthony Jackson-Hamel (4), Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla, Matteo Mancosu (2)
Starting XI Predictions
Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Blessing, Porter, Juliao, Mustivar, Iwasa, Storm
Coming up with 18 players that are not out injured, on international duty or on loan to the Swope Park Rangers was not easy. In fact, in the above imaginary scenario, I had to recall Cameron Iwasa, Adrian Zendejas and Colton Storm (who missed last week with an abdominal injury) from SPR. I couldn’t bring myself to put Roger Espinoza into the 18 since he pulled out of international duty with back spasms and it’d look really bad if he played on the heels of Vermes getting a bunch of heat for asking for Besler back last week.
A few things we know for sure are Gerso, Medranda, Feilhaber, Ilie, Sinovic and Melia, who are all regular starters, are healthy. Saad Abdul-Salaam is the only logical choice to replace Zusi at right back and Amer Didic will likely make his regular season debut for Sporting since there are no other available center backs.
The real dilemma is who plays on the left wing and at the number eight role in the midfield. Jimmy Medranda was lights out replacing Espinoza in the midfield last week, though that was against a depleted Minnesota United team. I’d still like to see him play there again to see if he can continue his good form. He officially is getting credit for that goal he headed in (since MLS doesn’t have goal line technology) making Soony Saad’s goal total return to zero. That’s the second goal Saad has had taken from him (the other being credited as an own goal to David Ousted).
If Medranda moves into the middle then the options on the wing are limited. I like Daniel Salloi to get his first ever MLS start (two new starters in one game!) over Iwasa (who has looked poor with SPR) or Cameron Porter (who is more of a center forward in my eyes). So the Cameron’s stay on the bench and Soni Mustivar is likely the first sub used if Vermes doesn’t throw a wrench into my plans and give him the start.
What will probably happen is Espinoza will start (he has been practicing with the team) and the world will be angry that he pulled out of his international duty. Club or country.
As for picking an outcome, Montreal seem ripe for the picking. While they have won two in a row it’s been on the back of new international signing Blerim Dzemaili, who will be away with Switzerland. Montreal will likely bunker in and play defense and look to counter with speed from Dominic Oduro, Piatti and Tabla. Piatti and Tabla have been scoring and Oduro may be excited to push the pace against the team he spurned in the offseason.
Even if Montreal manage to snag a counter goal, they are so depleted defensively it feels like Sporting KC, or specifically Dom Dwyer, will find a way to keep scoring goals.
Prediction: 2-1 Sporting KC
I made the same scoreline prediction last week and it led to a 3-0 win. I think I should keep predicting it (at least for home games) until that proves not to be true.