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Sporting KC v NY Red Bulls: Preview, Predictions, Starting XI and more

Two days rest and here we go again.

MLS: Sporting KC at New York Red Bulls Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC v New York Red Bulls (#SKCvNY)

When: Sunday, April 14, 2019 at 6:00 PM CT

Where: Children’s Mercy Park

How to Watch/Stream: FS1 | Fox Deportes | Fox Sports Go
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM

Sporting Kansas City are having an interesting 2019. They had the extreme highs of advancing twice in the CONCACAF Champions League and the incredible lows of being eliminated from that same competition by a 10-2 aggregate against CF Monterrey. That second loss to Rayados just happened on Thursday. On two days rest SKC are now forced to take on the Red Bulls.

The only two good things about the timing of this meeting is that both games were at home and that the Red Bulls are in poor form. They are all the way down in ninth in the Eastern Conference with just four points through five games (1-3-1). They are tied with the 10th and 11th ranked teams and only their zero goal differential is keeping them in 9th instead of 11th (as a quick reminder, Atlanta United are dead last with two points).

Sporting KC are doing better, but CCL has taken a toll on their MLS performances. Last weekend they played FC Cincinnati to a 1-1 draw on the road that included a lineup primarily made up of backups. That left SKC in seventh place on eight points through five games (2-1-2)

Interesting Stats

The last time these clubs met was during the summer swoon when Sporting KC gave up a late lead to lose 2-3 in New York New Jersey due to a Marc Rzatkowski brace off the bench. However, the proceeding three meetings between 2016 and 2017 saw SKC win all three matches, including the 2017 US Open Cup. Last year’s meeting did level the all-time series at 22-22-13.

Two of those three wins were at home, but the home team hasn’t had a particular advantage in recent years. In the last 12 regular season meetings the home team is just 3-5-4 and since CMP opened, the Red Bulls are 2-1-3 there in the regular season.

What’s Changed at RBNY in 2019?

The biggest change is the sale of Tyler Adams to RB Leipzig in Germany. He’s gone overseas and been an instant sensation. So much so that Sporting KC’s own Gianluca Busio doesn’t see why he can’t be the next Adams, and the last few games has started to show that potential. Outside of Adams, New York lost Hassan Ndam in the MLS Expansion draft to FC Cincinnati, Anatole Abang transferred to Nantong Zhiyun FC and former SKC man Aurelien Collin’s option was picked up and now he’s with the Philadelphia Union.

The Red Bulls are looking to replace Adams from within as they haven’t added any big signings outside of potential future BWP replacement 18-year-old Mathias Jorgensen from Odense Boldklub. Other additions include Homegrown midfielder Omir Fernandez, defender Amro Tarek in a trade with Orlando City and they picked up Marcus Epps in the waiver draft.

Injuries

Sporting KC

OUT - Jimmy Medranda (knee surgery), Erik Hurtado (knee surgery), Jaylin Lindsey (torn meniscus), Rodney Wallace (hip injury)

QUESTIONABLE - None (or everyone for fatigue)

* The official injury report

Red Bulls

OUT - Florian Valot (torn ACL)

QUESTIONABLE - Alex Muyl (ankle - unlikely to travel)*

*Not on the official injury report.

Suspensions

Sporting KC - None

Red Bulls - None

Stats

Sporting KC

GOALS - Krisztian Nemeth (4), Johnny Russell (3), Gianluca Busio (2), Ilie Sanchez, Felipe Gutierrez (1)

ASSISTS - Johnny Russell, Roger Espinoza, Gerso Fernandes (2), Felipe Gutierrez, Ilie Sanchez (1)

Red Bulls

GOALS - Muyl (2), Daniel Royer, Cristian Casseres Jr., Andreas Ivan, Bradley Wright-Phillips (1)

ASSISTS - Michael Murillo (2), Valot, Vincent Bezacourt, Marc Rzatkowski, Royer, Sean Davis (1)

Starting XI Predictions

I’m not sure this exercise is worth completing. I’ve been beyond wrong over the last two games expecting starters to mostly play when backups did and backups mostly when the starters did. With CCL play officially over for Sporting and the schedule easing up with just a game per week until the end of May, maybe it’s time to push the starters mostly into one more game knowing they’ll start having a “regular” schedule going forward. That said, I still will (likely incorrectly) predict some rotation.

During Thursday’s game against Monterrey, Peter Vermes seemed to have an eye towards Sunday subbing off Krisztian Nemeth, Roger Espinoza and Andreu Fontas early. No reason to think they can’t all start. The only one I’d really question is Fontas who played all 90 minutes two more times in the proceeding 11 days by the time Sunday’s game kicks off. Botond Barath is a capable backup, but if the data in the wearable tech says Fontas can go, I suspect he will.

There are, of course, a few question marks. Johnny Russell came off early in the first leg against Monterrey but played the full 90 against Cincy and then in the second Monterrey game. He might be due a break (at least from starting). Daniel Salloi returned to the lineup against Rayados so he could start, push Gerso to the right wing to play inverted and then come off if/when he doesn’t have 90 minutes in him returning from his high ankle sprain. That leaves Russell available as a spark.

In the midfield, while Felipe Gutierrez probably could push through, he might be better as a sub, just like he sparked the game in Cincy. Plus, Busio has been fantastic lately and deserves a chance to extend his two-game MLS goal scoring streak.

One player that has to be considered at least questionable due to fatigue is the unbreakable Ilie Sanchez. If he starts Sunday, and I suspect he may very well, that will be five games, playing all 90 minutes, in just 16 days. His backup is either the aforementioned Gutierrez or Wan Kuzain, who hasn’t even been starting for the Swope Park Rangers for some reason. Despite all the games he looked quite sharp on Thursday, but it wasn’t enough and he may have used up all his gas.

The other interesting conundrum is Seth Sinovic at left back. PV tried to give him a rest against FC Cincinnati but Rodney Wallace came off injured in the 27th minute. There are no other actual left backs on the roster with Jaylin Lindsey out after knee surgery and Jimmy Medranda still recovering from his 2018 knee surgery. There are a handful of guys (Yohan Croizet, Espinoza, maybe Gedion Zelalem) who might be able to play there, but I suspect Seth trots out for another appearance.

A sleeper to play left back might be new signing Nicolas Hasler who filled in for Graham Zusi at right back. Though in his history it doesn’t look like Hasler has ever lined up on the left, so that seems like a long shot.

Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Russell, Gutierrez, Barath, Hasler, Zelalem, Croizet

Fan Starting XI

The fan vote is 100% with the regular starters again. The backups did do fairly well with some votes being spread out though. Here they are from highest to the lowest that is worth mentioning: Busio (49%), Salloi [wing] (39.2%), Barath (33.3%), Hasler (29.4%), Zelalem (19.6%), Rowe [wing] (17.6%), Rowe [mid] (15.7%), Croizet [wing] (13.7%), Salloi [CF] (9.6%), Croizet [mid] (9.6%) and Zendejas (9.6%).

Prediction

Sporting KC are wearing the 2019 adidas Parley jerseys. You may remember in 2018 when they did that (they were white last year), they beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 6-0, Russell had a hat trick and two Whitecaps were sent off.

However, this year the competition is harder and the rest is shorter. I’d be happy with a draw. I simply don’t think the Red Bulls are as bad as their record shows. The same is true of SKC, who, while maybe they are happy with their current results, are clearly one of the best teams in the league.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. On full rest, Sporting KC can beat anyone. They aren’t on full rest, but their opponent is still figuring out who they are without Tyler Adams. On top of that, the Red Bulls are missing key contributors to injuries.

I think SKC can win, I’m just not sure they will.

2-2 Draw

What do you think? Predictions in the chat for both lineups and results are welcome. We can’t quite tell who you voted for in our other poll, so let us know why we are wrong.