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

MLS: Sporting KC at Los Angeles Galaxy Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC v LA Galaxy (#SKCvLAG)

Saturday, October 6th, 2018 at 7:30 PM CT

How to Watch: Fox Sports KC | ESPN+ | 810 WHB

Suddenly things don’t look so peachy for Sporting Kansas City. They are still in second place in the West despite going 0-1-1 over the last two weeks. If either of those games had been victories SKC would already be in the playoffs.

Many fans and analysts, myself included, worry this could be the slump starting back up again right as the season winds down. There are just four games to go, though it can be said that the RSL draw last weekend was courtesy of some amazing goalkeeping by Nick Rimando and not that SKC necessarily looked bad.

On the other side of the pitch are the possibly surging LA Galaxy. They have won two straight, both shutout home wins. LA sit in seventh place, just two points below the red line and right behind Real Salt Lake who came to Children’s Mercy Park last weekend and stole a point.

If you are looking for positive stats look no further than the Galaxy’s record on the road. They are 4-7-4 but they’ve not won on the road since the 21st of July. Since that road win at the Philadelphia Union they are 0-1-4 on the road. On top of that, Sporting have had the Galaxy’s number both home and away over their last seven meetings going 4-0-3 including three straight wins. That includes two wins at Stub Hub Center in LA.

Galaxy’s Roster Changes

Since the last time SKC played the Galaxy, very little has changed when it comes to the roster. They added defender Sheanon Williams shortly after the previous match-up. They also released defender Emrah Klimenta and loaned out midfielder Joao Pedro.

The real changes come on the sideline. Sigi Schmid is out as coach and he’s replaced by Sporting KC nemesis Dominic Kinnear. Dom has led the Galaxy to a 2-1-0 record which includes two shutout victories. Both of those wins were 3-0 shutouts at home. The loss was bad defensively with a 5-3 cluster against Toronto FC but it’s possible Kinnear has righted their awful defense.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT: Jimmy Medranda (knee surgery - out for season), Cristian Lobato (knee injury - out for season)

QUESTIONABLE: None

Galaxy

OUT: None

QUESTIONABLE: Giovani dos Santos (undisclosed injury)

Suspensions

Sporting KC - None

Galaxy - None (suspended next yellow card — Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Michael Ciani, Jorgen Skjelvik & Rolf Feltscher)

Statistical Leaders

Sporting KC

Goals: Johnny Russell, Diego Rubio (8), Daniel Salloi, Felipe Gutierrez (7), Gerso (5), Ilie Sanchez (4), Ike Opara (3)

Assists: Roger Espinoza, Johnny Russell (9), Daniel Salloi (7), Diego Rubio (6), Gerso (5), Graham Zusi (4), Ilie Sanchez, Yohan Croizet (3)

Galaxy

Goals: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (20), Ola Kamara (11), Romain Alessandrini (10), Chris Pontius (5)

Assists: Zlatan (9), Ashley Cole (8), Jonathan Dos Santos, Alessandrini (7), Pontius (6), Emmanuel Boateng (5)

Recent Performances

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

Galaxy - D/L/L/W/W (7 points)

Starting XI Predictions

Diego Rubio made his return from injury in this past week and he immediately looked like he should be the starting center forward again. He only played 20 minutes so he likely doesn’t have 90 minutes in his legs, but if he could give a solid 60 and be replaced by Nemeth, it’d probably be better for everyone.

There is a three man race for two winger spots. Gerso and Russell have played together over the last two games with Nemeth between them and it hasn’t worked out. Gerso has been both amazing to get himself in positions to score and terrible with his finishing. I think Salloi deserves to get back out there but with Russell going on international duty Vermes may be inclined to play him again. Regardless all three will get on the field and I’d really like to see Gerso return to supersub role where his speed can terrorize a tired defense.

The only other spot that could be in question is Roger Espinoza’s midfield role. He got about 65 minutes against RSL despite suffering from back spasms and being a gametime decision. Espinoza hasn’t looked himself as of late and hasn’t gotten an assist since August 18th and you have to go all the way back to July 4th to see another assist. His passing has been poor and he’s been shown to wear down late in the season. Vermes likely won’t do it, but resting him and having him healthy for the Whitecaps game that Felipe will miss for international duty would be wise in my eyes.

If Espinoza were to get a rest, Yohan Croizet is the most likely replacement but I still prefer him off the bench. I’d love to see Gianluca Busio get a start and see if he can really kill it with Gutierrez, Rubio, Salloi and Russell all around him. It seems unlikely, but I’ll reach and say Espinoza at least rests and give Croizet the start.

Everything else should remain the same (and let’s be honest, Espinoza probably starts too).

Rest of the 18: Dick, Espinoza, Fontas, Busio, Nemeth, Lindsey, Gerso

It’ll be interesting to see if Shelton returns to the bench, possibly in the place of a clearly out of form Nemeth.

[The fan vote is in and it’s actually quite close to my lineup with only Espinoza getting in ahead of Croizet. You all also benched Gerso. The most stunning part of the voting was for center forward. Nemeth got just ONE vote. Rubio ran away with it getting all the other votes. Here are the top players to draw votes that aren’t starters: Gerso (48.6%), Croizet (21.6%), Fontas (16.2%), Busio (10.8%) and Lindsey (8.1%).

If Sporting KC don’t win after dropping two home points last weekend, kiss the bye game goodbye. Then the home playoff game could be in trouble too with the game against the Vancouver Whitecaps next weekend being a lot tougher road game because Russell, Nemeth and Gutierrez are all going on international duty right after the Galaxy game. Dom Kinnear scares me more than all the attacking prowess on the Galaxy. Let’s just will the team to a win.

Prediction: 2-1 Sporting KC Win

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.