Sporting KC v Montreal Impact (#SKCvMTL)
When: Saturday, March 30th, 2019 at 2:00 PM CT
Where: Children’s Mercy Park
How to Watch/Stream: FOX Sports Kansas City Plus | FOX Sports Midwest Plus | ESPN+ | Fox Sports Go
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM
After 13 long days with no Sporting Kansas City in your life, the boys in blue return to Children’s Mercy Park. 2019 has been a year of two very different stories for Sporting KC. First, immense success in the CONCACAF Champions League. Sporting KC are 3-1-0 with two wins over Liga MX side Toluca FC and a win and loss against Club Atletico Independiente to advance to the CCL semi-finals.
The second story is far uglier. In three Major League Soccer games, Sporting are an uninspiring 1-1-1 in games that showed the fatigue that CCL puts on the squad. That includes the last second lost in the opener against LAFC, an ugly win at home against the Philadelphia Union and another fatigue filled draw on the road against the Colorado Rapids.
Fatigue should no longer be an issue for most of the squad with Montreal visiting from Canada. The Impact arrive having also played three games but going 2-0-1 and sitting in fifth place in the East (SKC are seventh in the West). SKC will not only play Saturday against Montreal but they hit the road midweek for a game against Liga MX side Monterrey on Thursday.
Sporting KC are 4-1-2 in their last seven games against Montreal, but the one loss came in 2018 on the road in a game SKC were expected to win against at that time a dismal Impact club. Instead, in the lone meeting where Remi Garde was at the helm, Sporting fell haplessly 2-0.
The achilles heel of SKC against the Montreal Impact has been their superstar Ignacio Piatti. He has scored in all but one of the last four match-ups. He is questionable on Saturday though, so that could be quite the boost to Sporting.
Montreal are in the midst of a six game road stretch to start the season. Historically they are quite bad on the road. In 2018 they only won three road games but so far in 2019 they’ve already won two of three attempts.
What’s Changed in Montreal?
Out from 2018 are forwards Matteo Mancosu and Quincy Amarikwa. Additionally, consistent defender Rod Fanni is gone along with several role players.
To replace the lost players the biggest name added is former FC Dallas forward Maxi Urruti. He was acquired in a trade in exchange for $75,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and a 2019 first round pick (defender, John Nelson). A low sum for a proven MLS veteran, though, he is rumored to be making a hefty salary for his traditionally low contributions offensively.
There are no other additions that jump out early in this season. The next highest contributor is forward Harry Novillo who has a paltry 16 minutes on the pitch so far this season.
OUT - Jimmy Medranda (knee surgery), Erik Hurtado (knee surgery), Daniel Salloi (ankle sprain)
QUESTIONABLE - Gerso Fernandes (calf injury)
OUT - Ken Krolicki (dislocated right elbow), Jason Beaulieu (cyst on left knee)
Sporting KC - None
Montreal - Zakaria Diallo (red card - thanks Dom)
GOALS - Krisztian Nemeth, Ilie Sanchez, Johnny Russell (1)
ASSISTS - Johnny Russell (1)
GOALS - Piatti (3), Taider (2), Orji Okwonkwo (1)
ASSISTS - Novillo, Urruti, Taider, Diallo, Michael Azira (1)
Starting XI Predictions
There are two potential approaches Sporting KC could take coming into this game. Play the regular starters or don’t take any chances and play the backups so the starters are fresh for CCL on Thursday.
In my mind, there is no doubt that Vermes will play the regular starters both Saturday and Thursday. It’s not quite a week between games, but Peter Vermes has made it abundantly clear he believes players can play twice in a week, if not three times. I fully expect the starters play both these games, then the squad is rotated against FC Cincinnati next weekend, and then the starters are back in against Monterrey for leg two of the CCL semi-final (pending a disastrous first game in Mexico).
That said, there are still a few questions. Andrea Fontas has returned to training but Vermes could choose to save him for CCL and go with Botond Barath, though I doubt that happens. If anything, Fontas will start at home and Barath could step in for him in Mexico depending on how he responds to his return.
The other position with some questions is right wing. Johnny Russell travelled and played with the Scottish National Team. He came on as a sub against Kazakhstan and started against San Marino. Vermes could hold him out and bring him off the bench as he did to great success in Colorado, though I suspect he starts.
Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Wallace, Busio, Barath, Rowe, Croizet, Lindsey
Fan Starting XI
The fan vote overwhelmingly agrees with my assessment with one exception. You guys have Barath in over Fontas. I imagine this is partially due to the fact that Fontas wasn’t announced as fully healthy until very recently. Here are the top vote getters who aren’t listed as starters: Fontas (40.3%), Croizet [wing] (17.6%), Busio (11.8%), Rowe (9.2%), Wallace (9.2%), Lindsey (8.4%) and Zelalem (7.6%). As stated, it’s not close.
When Sporting KC are healthy and not fatigued, I’d pick them to beat just about anyone in the league. Doubly so when they play at home. I imagine there could be some slight rust in the opening 30-60 minutes, but SKC can and should win. Add to that the reports that Piatti is doubtful and Taider could miss the game too and things look very favorable for the home team.
2-0 Sporting KC Win