Sporting KC v Colorado Rapids (#SKCvCOL)
Saturday, May 5, 2018 at 7:30 PM CT
Fox Sports KC | ESPN+
Sporting Kansas City and the Colorado Rapids will meet again after having just played back on March 25th. In that game, the Rapids jumped out to a very early two goal lead before they slowly gave up the lead and eventually Diego Rubio scored a stoppage time equalizer. Despite that, Rubio still isn’t starting at center forward and starter Khiry Shelton (who assisted on the goal) still hasn’t scored.
Sporting KC will be looking to rebound after only their second loss of the season came on a controversial goal last Saturday. The Rapids come to town as losers of two straight. Sporting are still sitting in first place in the Western Conference (5-2-2, 17 points) while the Rapids are down in 9th place (2-3-2, 8 points).
Colorado actually have history on their side having won six of the last eight meetings between these clubs, despite the Rapids generally being a poor team in recent years (who even remembers 2016). Historically though, the Rapids struggle on the road having lost 17 of 21 and according to MLSsoccer.com putting up a paltry 0.4 goals per game. All this is probably a moot point as the Rapids have dramatically turned over their roster and have a new coach.
Since this is the second meeting between these clubs, we’ve done this section before. Colorado has gotten some contributions from Joe Mason and Jack Price but this is still clearly a team figuring out their new coaches system. The most dangerous part of their offense is actually not a new player, Dominique Badji, who already has five goals. Badji and Mason both scored in the first meeting back in March.
The Rapids have made another addition since the last time the teams played adding Sam Nicholson in a trade with Minnesota United in exchange for defender Eric Miller. Nicholson has eight appearances (more games than the Rapids have even played) and six starts with Minnesota where he picked up a goal and an assist across 526 minutes. That matches his scoring output from 2017 and nearly his minutes played. The trade happened just before the transfer window closed Tuesday night, even though it wasn’t announced until Wednesday.
OUT: Felipe Gutierrez (sports hernia surgery) — out 2-3 months
QUESTIONABLE: Gerso (thigh contusion), Adrian Zendejas (head injury)
OUT: Kortne Ford (left MCL sprain), Marlon Hairston (right knee surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: Nana Boateng (concussion)
Sporting KC - None
Rapids - None (Jack Price suspended next yellow card)
Deklan Wynne should be suspended for this kick out at Dom Dwyer’s family jewels but somehow VAR gave just a yellow.
Goals: Felipe Gutierrez, Johnny Russell (5), Jimmy Medranda, Ilie Sanchez, Graham Zusi (2), Diego Rubio, Daniel Salloi, Yohan Croizet, Cristian Loboto (1)
Assists: Roger Espinoza (5), Daniel Salloi (4), Johnny Russell, Khiry Shelton (2), Gerso, Jimmy Medranda, Yohan Croizet, Ilie Sanchez, Matt Besler, Graham Zusi (1)
Goals: Dominique Badji (5), Joe Mason (2), Jack Price, Shkelzen Gashi, Niki Jackson (1) — Sam Nicholson’s goal was scored while with Minnesota
Assists: Johan Blomberg, Tommy Smith, Jack Price (2), Enzo Martinez, Dominique Badji, Edgar Castillo (1)
Starting XI Predictions
Let’s not kid ourselves. Despite what was clearly a lackluster appearance against the New England Revolution, Peter Vermes will trot out the same lineup this week. He seemed to make excuses for the result and he’s probably not wrong, but it feels like some sort of shake-up could be good for this team. So instead putting a lineup card below that will happen, I’m going to suggest some changes.
First, with Felipe Gutierrez out for 2-3 months, Yohan Croizet has been less than impressive. His best minutes have come when the Vancouver Whitecaps only had nine men. Last week, he turned the ball over (like he is known to do) and the Revs “scored.” So move Croizet out of the midfield and replace him with Jimmy Medranda.
That will free up the left back spot. Instead of playing Seth Sinovic I’m going to suggest playing Cristian Lobato. That might sound like a bad idea after his only start came there against New York City FC and he didn’t perform well. But neither did anyone else in that game. Lobato is a much more offensive option than Sinovic and Colorado is a team that will probably look to sit back and counter. Lobato is much more equipped to deal with that speed (see his David Villa recovery run). Let’s not forget many people thought Lobato was the left back during preseason.
If Gerso is healthy, I’d probably start him over a slumping Salloi. Then Salloi is available as a sub or to move to center forward. I don’t hate Khiry Shelton, but he can’t score against mediocre keepers and I think it’s clear — no matter what else you think about him — Tim Howard isn’t mediocre. Start anyone else. Salloi. Rubio. Even Croizet. Shelton is defensive but this game Sporting KC will need offense to break down the Rapids bunkering.
Or maybe Kharlton Belmar should get a start on the wing. He didn’t show much last week but that was a very disjointed game on awful turf. If not Saturday, maybe the next game.
Everything else I’m good with the regulars. It should be said that there is another game on Wednesday against Atlanta United and it’s possible there is finally some squad rotation. I’m guessing since there are 11 days between that game and the next one though, we won’t see much rotation quite yet.bui
Rest of the 18: Dick, Shelton, Sinovic, Amor, Evans, Croizet, Belmar
[The fan vote is in it’s the regular starters except a lot of the voting happened before Felipe’s injury was announced. We should probably wipe it out and do it again. Put your new lineup in the comments.]
Everyone is picking Sporting KC to win and they really should win at home but there is just something about Colorado that makes me nervous. While last year, in the famous game where Tim Howard went on to get himself suspended for conduct involving a fan, SKC won 3-1. The last time they played the Rapids at home before that, they lost 2-1. It’s far from a sure thing. I’m going to push the bad juju away and still say Sporting win. I’m not confident at all though.