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Sporting KC v LA Galaxy: Preview, Predictions, Injuries & Starting XI

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Sporting KC look to pick up three more points at home on the heels of winning the US Open Cup this week.

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MLS: Sporting KC at Los Angeles Galaxy Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC v Los Angeles Galaxy (#SKCvLA)

Sunday, September 24, 2017 at 1:00 PM CT

Fox Sports KC+ | fuboTV (free trial) | MLS Live

Sunday’s game is a tale of two very different teams. Sporting Kansas City are the lone team left in MLS that are undefeated at home (after Toronto FC got pounded by the Montreal Impact on Wednesday). SKC also won a trophy on Wednesday, giving them their fourth in the last six seasons (the best in MLS). The LA Galaxy on the other hand have lost 4-0 twice in a row. Once to Atlanta United and once to Toronto FC.

The Galaxy currently sit in 10th place in the Western Conference (27 points) while SKC are 3rd in the West (44 points) and within a single point of first place (pending the result of the other Saturday games). The Galaxy will actually be the first MLS team eliminated from the playoffs if they don’t win on Sunday. That’s something no team has been able to do in Kansas City in over 15 months as Sporting have gone 16-0-7 in their last 23 regular season home games.

While the Galaxy do oddly have the leagues second best road record (5-7-2) they haven’t won in Kansas City since September 2007 going 0-4-5 since then and have never won in Sporting Park Children’s Mercy Park (0-3-3). To add to that, Sporting KC went to LA earlier this season and won on the road. That’s when #IkeBike was trending on Twitter.

This meeting will once again mark the return of a former Sporting KC player. Jon Kempin has assumed the starting goalkeeper role for the Galaxy to mixed reviews. He’s made some fantastic saves (27 in total this year) but he has just a 1-4-1 record. He can hardly be fully to blame as Los Angeles are simply bad this year.

Despite that, FIFA 18 has them featured in The Journey mode this year and it appears from the time I’ve spent with the game, Alex Hunter (the star of that mode) will be forced to play with them. The game even calls the Galaxy one of the best teams in MLS. Maybe EA Sports should have picked a more steady team. Like one that has won four major trophies in the last six season.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT: Cameron Porter (broken fibula and ligament damage in right ankle), Soni Mustivar (hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE: Latif Blessing (thigh injury), Gerso (dislocated shoulder)

Galaxy

OUT: Robbie Rogers (ankle injury), Sebastian Lletget (foot surgery), Baggio Husidic (fractured fibula). Pele van Anholt (torn ACL/meniscus), Daniel Steres (L2-4 transverse process fracture)

QUESTIONABLE: Bradley Diallo (right hamstring injury)

Suspensions

Sporting KC - Kevin Ellis (team decision)

Galaxy - Jermaine Jones (red card), [Nathan Smith and Bradley Diallo suspended next yellow card]

Recent Form

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

Galaxy - Last Five: L/W/D/L/L (4 Points)

Leading Scorers

  • Sporting KC: Gerso Fernandes (8), Dom Dwyer, Benny Feilhaber (5), Diego Rubio (4), Latif Blessing (3), Daniel Salloi, Ike Opara (2)
  • Galaxy: Romain Alessandrini (9), Giovani Dos Santos (6), Emmanuel Boateng (4)

Starting XI Predictions

Despite this being the third game in nine days, expect Sporting KC to field as much of a first choice lineup as possible. They are suddenly kind of banged up but they need three points desperately with only six games remaining in the season (half of which are on the road). They can ill-afford to drop home points since they struggle so badly on the road and play three of their last four games just eight days apart.

SKC have listed Gerso and Blessing as questionable with injuries picked up Wednesday, so don’t expect them to start (though Blessing looked fine dancing after the game). Gerso also dislocated his shoulder earlier this year and didn’t even miss a game, though he came in as a sub instead of starting.

Another player that may sit is Diego Rubio. The team has been cautious with him since returning from his ACL injury but with so little time left, I even think he’ll start.

One person we definitely won’t see is the suspended Kevin Ellis. He has been out of favor for some time now, but apparently some sort of behavior issue has landed him in the dog house. With Erik Palmer-Brown available, hopefully Ellis won’t be needed (Amer Didic is unavailable as he started against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks on Saturday night with the Swope Park Rangers).

The only other starter in question has to be Seth Sinovic. He’s done quite well and some would say he’s had a career resurgence have injuries greatly impacted his 2016 season. The reason he may sit is Jimmy Medranda has started at left back in the only game (FC Dallas) where the wingers were extremely fast. Since Sinovic picked up a red against Dallas in the US Open, Medranda has looked like a better option against speedy wingers.

Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Blessing, Iwasa, Abdul-Salaam, Palmer-Brown, Sinovic, Oliveira

[In the fan vote you guys were torn on a few things. Mostly who would play in defense. Besler and Zusi nearly swept the votes but it was split beyond that. Opara and EPB actually tied to start and Sinovic got two more votes than Medranda. Jimmy also had a bunch of votes to start in midfield, but not enough to outpace Benny or Roger. And you guys picked the same forwards I did.]

As for picking a winner, I’m tempted to stop making predictions. I refused to pick for the US Open Cup and that worked out pretty well. But that’s a cheap way out, so I’ll do my job and pick a result.

Sunday has a big chance to be a let down. Sporting KC are coming off the high of winning the Open Cup on Wednesday and having a huge celebration on Friday.

On top of that the Galaxy are abysmal this year. There could be a tendency to not prepare properly for them. That said, when Peter Vermes says to his team in the locker room after Wednesday’s Cup win, “this isn’t the last one this year,” I believe him.

Prediction: 2-1 Sporting KC Win

Sporting need and will get all three points at home.

Who do you think will start? Who do you think should start? And what is your prediction for an outcome? Let us know in the comments.