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

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Stub Hub Center: The home of the #IkeBike

Sporting KC v zLAtan LA Galaxy (#LAvSKC)

Sunday, April 8, 2018 at 8:00 PM CT

Fox Sports 1 (FS1)

First place Sporting Kansas City (3-1-1, 10 points) travel to the City of Angels (Carson, CA of course) to play the Los Angeles Galaxy (2-1-1, 7 points) who currently sit in third place with a game in hand. The numbers favor Sporting as they are 3-0-3 over their last six meetings, including taking points (1-0-1) in their last two visits to the Stub Hub Center. Their last visit, a 2-1 victory I was lucky enough to attend, was a poorly attended game that lacked fan enthusiasm (from the home crowd at least) in which Ike Opara scored his famous bicycle kick goal. Not bad for a center defender that runs like a baby giraffe.

Attendance isn’t likely to be an issue on Sunday as the game is in prime time and the Galaxy have signed some guy named Zlatan.

It might not be Zlatan that Sporting have to worry about (of course they have to worry about him — but he’s not alone). Ola Kamara, who they obtained in a trade involving lots of Garber Bucks and Gyasi Zardes, has been quite deadly against SKC. He’s only played Sporting KC twice and he’s scored three times when he was with the Columbus Crew. He doesn’t have Federico Higuain pulling the strings though, so maybe he’ll struggle to score (Zardes has outscored him four to one in 2018).

LA Galaxy’s Offseason

Zlatan Zlatan Zlatan. Zlatan Zlatan. Zlatan Zlatan Zlatan. Zlatan, Zlatan Zlatan. Zlatan Zlatan Zlatan. Zlatan?

In all seriousness, it’s not all about Zlatan Ibrahimovic, though he had a pretty amazing debut (even if he was offside on that second goal). Outside of him the team added the above-mentioned Kamara, holding midfielder and MLS veteran Perry Kitchen, LA native Chris Pontius and they probably helped their goalkeeping immensely by adding David Bingham.

Bingham replaced a trio of keepers who couldn’t keep the ball out of the net in 2017, including former Sporting KC Homegrown, Jon Kempin. The team also lost Robbie Rogers to retirement and Jermaine Jones to... better their team. Additionally, they shipped out Zardes who forgot how to score in LA but immediately found his form with the Crew.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT: None

QUESTIONABLE: Felipe Gutierrez (“pubic bone area”)

Galaxy

OUT: Romain Alessandrini (hamstring injury), Bradford Jamieson IV (concussion)

QUESTIONABLE: Giovani dos Santos (hamstring injury), Jonathan dos Santos (hamstring injury), Michael Ciani (groin injury)

Suspensions

Sporting KC - None (despite what MLSsoccer.com may tell you)

Galaxy - None

Statistics

Sporting KC

Goals: Felipe Gutierrez (5), Diego Rubio, Graham Zusi, Ilie Sanchez, Johnny Russell, Jimmy Medranda (1)

Assists: Daniel Salloi (3), Johnny Russell, Rogers Espinoza (2), Gerso, Khiry Shelton (1)

Galaxy

Goals: Zlatan (2), Jonathan dos Santos, Sebastian Lletget, Ola Kamara, Chris Pontius, Romain Alessandrini (1)

Assists: Emmanuel Boateng (2), Baggio Husidic, Jonathan dos Santos, Servando Carrasco, Daniel Steres, Ashley Cole, Rolf Feltscher (1)

Starting XI Predictions

If it ain’t broke? Well, Peter Vermes actually made a change despite success. Last week against D.C. United, Jimmy Medranda replaced Seth Sinovic and the defense obtained the first shutout of the season. Why change that? Maybe Vermes won’t, but something in my gut tells me when the team wants to be more defensive, Sinovic is the man.

Until their four goal Zlanspolosion explosion against Los Angeles FC, the Galaxy hadn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire. In their prior three games they averaged a goal a game. Does the defense need Seth? Maybe. Probably not. Despite that, I’m going to guess Sinovic plays (which is probably wrong).

As far as other positions, I’m not sure there is much debate. Shelton will start over Rubio. Diego just played 90+ minutes for the Swope Park Rangers on Wednesday against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks (USL) and can probably only hope to be a sub. Salloi, despite a down week against DCU, still is playing quite well. Johnny Russell is probably the best attacker on the team that doesn’t play in the midfield. Until we get to double game weeks (May 9th against Atlanta United is a Wednesday game) I don’t anticipate wholesale changes.

However, there is one question. Can Felipe play after picking up a “knock” against D.C. United? Our own Thad Bell has previously reported that he’s “day-to-day.” Vermes has been known to undersell injuries. I think Sporting KC plays it safe and Yohan Croizet starts in the midfield. Unless Medranda does. Nah. Croizet.

Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Rubio, Gerso, Medranda, Didic, Lindsey, Belmar

I’ll say the 18 is rounded out with no Gutierrez who completed gets rested. I’m also hoping to see Kharlton Belmar make his second MLS appearance (first of 2018) after starting so strong with the Rangers. SPR also seem to be rotating keepers every game, so it would seem to be Darrin MacLeod’s turn so Adrian Zendejas can be the emergency keeper.

[The fan vote is in and is probably correct. You guys have Medranda (61.9%) over Sinovic (38.1%). The only place in question is the midfield. Gutierrez got his lowest vote total of the season, likely due to injury concerns, but he still got 88.7% of the vote. He’ll just come down to health. Otherwise, there are just a smattering of votes for most non-starters. Croizet has the most at an abysmal 25 votes between forward and midfield. Next closest is Rubio with 18 and then Gerso with 12. Beyond that it’s negligible.]

My least favorite part of any story. Trying to pick a winner. I will say, I looked back at the first five games and I’m 3-2 overall after starting 0-2 (not counting scores because that’s nearly impossible, just if I correctly picked a win, draw or loss). I’d say that’s a respectable result considering you only have a 33% chance every game unlike in other sports. That means I’m due for a fail.

If Felipe doesn’t play, it concerns me that Sporting may not be able to find the back of the net. Then again, the Galaxy aren’t exactly known for their stellar defense. I’ll say with all the attention on Zlatan one of the Galaxy’s other stars which could be returning from injury (a dos Santos or Alessandrini) or Kamara find the back of the net as Zlatan pulls defenders away (maybe literally). If Croizet starts in the midfield, I think he’ll finally stop overthinking it and just score. Or Shelton. Or no one.

Prediction: 1-1 Draw

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.