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

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It’s going to be hard to live up to last week.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-San Jose Earthquakes at Sporting KC Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC v San Jose Earthquakes (#SKCvSJ)

Saturday, March 17, 2018 at 7:30 PM CT

Fox Sports KC | MLS Live (free at live.mlssoccer.com for out of market fans)

It’s the third game of the season (already!) and boy have there been ups and downs. It is going to be tough to match the thriller in Chicago last week, so maybe SKC can just get four goals and not let three in.

The Earthquakes are coming off a bye in Week 2 (an odd occurrence that will keep happening with an odd number of teams with the addition of LAFC) and are sitting at the same three points Sporting KC have after two games played. Sporting come into the match on a five-game unbeaten streak across all competitions (3-0-2) including last year’s exciting penalty kick shootout win the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and two straight home wins before that (the Open Cup is technically a tie).

The home numbers are actually really good for SKC, having only lost once (10-1-0) since 2004 (though that was a 5-0 beating). This will be San Jose’s first road game of the season after nearly blowing a three goal lead against Minnesota United in Week 1.

The suddenly high power San Jose offense could cause problems for a Kansas City team who has conceded five goals in two games. It took 10 games last year to give up five goals. Ouch! The good news is that Sporting haven’t conceded goals in three straight games since 2016. Hopefully the defense finds a way.

In the all-time series the Quakes have one more win that Sporting. Saturday seems like a good day to level the playing field.

San Jose’s Offseason

There has been a lot of roster turnover in San Jose. Out are David Bingham, Marco Urena, Darwin Ceren, Andres Imperiale, Matheus Silva (Swope Park Rangers), Kip Colvey and Victor Bernardez. No longer on loan but officially on the roster is Danny Hoesen (who already scored twice). They also added Magnus Eriksson and Joel Qwiberg, two Swedish players to play for their new Swedish coach, Mikael Stahre. They also added Yeferson Quintana from Penarol (Uruguay) on loan.

Also returning for 2018 is SuperDraft pick Andrew Tarbell who is now firmly the starting goalkeeper. The same Tarbell who Sporting KC were so enamored with they traded all the way out of the draft once he was off the board. Two seasons later and he’s the starter and Sporting KC have turned to Eric Dick and Adrian Zendejas as the keepers of the future.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT: Gianluca Busio (eye)

QUESTIONABLE: Brad Evans (back)

San Jose

OUT: None

QUESTIONABLE: None

Suspensions

Sporting KC - None

San Jose - None

Statistics

Sporting KC

Goals: Felipe Gutierrez (2), Johnny Russell, Jimmy Medranda (1)

Assists: Daniel Salloi (2), Johnny Russell, Rogers Espinoza (1)

San Jose

Goals: Danny Hoesen (2), Valeri Qazaishvii (1)

Assists: Vako (2), Chris Wondolowski (1)

Starting XI Predictions

After making three changes in the second game of the season, it seems unlikely that will happen again. Diego Rubio fell so far out of favor after his first game that he spent Week 2 not even in the 18, but on loan for a preseason game with the Swope Park Rangers. Unless Shelton is truly hurt (and not just lacking fitness, as Vermes stated) I wouldn’t expect that to change with Salloi capable of playing the #9 role if needed.

Other than that, why change anything? The defense was a brick wall until Sinovic took an unfortunate knock that led to a cut that they team couldn’t get closed. After he came out, Medranda came in and the team gave up three goals in 12 minutes.

There is probably more discussion about who should fill out the bench than start in Vermes’ mind. Croizet got some late minutes on the wing and at some point I’d like to see him in the midfield, but with only one game a week right now, SKC can probably afford to leave Espinoza, Felipe and Ilie running that show.

Something that could start to cause a debate is the play of the center backs. Ike Opara and Matt Besler have been less than stellar the first two weeks and at some point you have to wonder if Vermes will try his new loanee Emiliano Amor and/or Amer Didic. If those two start together at SPR and find chemistry, they could motivate Opara/Besler to step of their games. It seems unlikely they both go on loan though.

Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Shelton, Gerso, Croizet, Medranda, Amor, Evans

Once again I vote Gerso the super-sub to give the team that added punch from the bench. He’s looks stellar in both sub appearances. The only other change I’d make is adding Brad Evans to the bench. Last week there was no RB sub or defensive midfielder sub (though Felipe could slide back there we are told). He fills both those roles and is just a good leader to have around since the team says he is now fit.

[The fan vote participation is great this year. Let’s keep this up. The highest vote percentage came for Felipe at 98.6% with Russell getting 97.9%. New guys at #1 and #2. Not bad. We all agreed on the starters, though the closest battle came between Gerso starting (I assume on the wing) and Shelton (my guess is some of you want Salloi to slide to CF). The only other relatively close vote is Medranda at LB or Sinovic but that was more than 30% apart.]

I’m 0-2 on predictions so why even bother with this part? I feel like I did better in 2017. I should go back and check to see if that’s just me fooling myself. I just can’t imagine SKC losing twice at home in two games.... right? The question is, will they win?

All the stars seem to be aligning (assuming everyone is really healthy). The real question mark is that this is a much different Earthquake team than the one who has lost so many times at Children’s Mercy Park in the past. I expect Sporting to step up in front of their home fans though and find a way. If the defense fails again at home, maybe it’s time for some changes.

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.