Sporting KC v New England Revolution (#SKCvNE)
When: Saturday, April 27, 2019 at 7:30 PM CT
Where: Children’s Mercy Park
How to Watch/Stream: FOX Sports Kansas City Plus | FOX Sports Midwest Plus | ESPN+
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM
Who knows what to make of Sporting Kansas City and the New England Revolution right now? SKC enter the match having not won since the 7-1 beating at the end of March that they handed to the Montreal Impact. Since then they’ve played five straight games in all competitions without a victory (0-3-2). However, they are still 2-2-3 in MLS play and are in eighth place in the Western Conference.
The Revolution on the other hand are down in 10th place with a 2-6-1 record. They’ve played two more games than Sporting, but they are two points behind them in the full league table. Despite that they are actually in better form having won two games in their last five, going 2-3-0 (it’s sad that this is better).
All in all, both teams look pretty terrible right now. To compound the problem SKC have eight players currently either out or questionable as of this writing for Saturday. Of those, four are probable starters. The only thing saving them heading into the weekend is the fact that the Revolution will enter the game having played three times in eight days.
Saturday’s game will mark the first time striker Krisztian Nemeth plays the Revolution since the club traded him back to Kansas City last summer. SKC may really need Nemeth as they have lost five of the last seven meetings against New England. The last time Sporting pulled off a victory, Nemeth got the assist as he was red-carded for elbowing Graham Zusi and VAR had him sent off in 2017 when he was still on the Revolution.
Former Sporting KC striker Teal Bunbury has been quite prolific against his former club. He’s scored four times in six meetings against KC, including the lone goal in last years win by the Revs.
What’s Changed in New England in 2019?
The Revolution are a bit of a conundrum. They didn’t turn their roster over much, but they also weren’t very good in 2018. They finished last year with 41 points in eighth place, nine points out of the final playoff spot in the East (SKC finished with 62 points).
This is the second year with Brad Freidel in charge and some changes have been made. Out are veteran defenders Chris Tierney and Claude Dielna. They also lost fringe defender Mark Segbers, who has since signed with the Swope Park Rangers. Perhaps their biggest loss is Kelyn Rowe, who was traded to Sporting Kansas City in a three team trade that returned the Revs fullback Edgar Castillo from the Colorado Rapids (and sent Diego Rubio to Colorado).
The most notable addition to the Revs has undoubtedly been Designated Player Carles Gil (three goals and two assists already). They acquired Gil via transfer from Deportivo La Coruña. They also signed another forward in Juan Fernando Caicedo on loan from Independiente Medellin. Other than that it’s all Homegrown players and SuperDraft picks.
QUESTIONABLE - Ilie Sanchez (calf injury)
*Injuries updated since original story written based on new reporting.
OUT - Isaac Angking (left knee surgery)
QUESTIONABLE - None
LOANED OUT - Zach Herivaux (Birmingham Legion - USL)
Sporting KC - None
Revolution - None
GOALS - Krisztian Nemeth, Johnny Russell (4), Gianluca Busio (3), Felipe Gutierrez (2), Ilie Sanchez (1)
ASSISTS - Johnny Russell, Roger Espinoza, Gerso Fernandes (2), Felipe Gutierrez, Ilie Sanchez, Krisztian Nemeth, Graham Zusi (1)
GOALS - Carles Gil (3), Jalil Anibaba, Brandon Bye, Cristian Penilla (1)
ASSISTS - Gil (2), DeJuan Jones, Juan Fernando Caicedo, Antonio Milnar Delamea, Anibaba (1) — [more assists than goals... have to love those secondary assists]
Starting XI Predictions
With all the injuries and the sudden poor form, it seems like it’s probably time to switch things up. One change that should definitely be made is at left back. Yohan Croizet has started two straight games and has been at fault for at least two goals where he held a player onside. It seems Peter Vermes is punishing Seth Sinovic for his performances against Monterrey, but enough is enough. Seth needs to start at left back.
Also in defense Besler is out and Andreu Fontas may be too. Hopefully Fontas is good to go at the left center back role and Barath or Rwatubyaye could line up next to him. If not, the game will need to be played much differently as Borath and Rwatubyaye struggled to pass the ball out of the back against San Jose’s man marking defense. Having Fontas back next to Sinovic would make a world of difference as Sporting could keep three defenders home and let Zusi roam with a more agile right center back covering his space.
An unlikely scenario could involve Zusi — who is absolutely struggling as of late — finding his way to the bench for a less offensive but more stable defensive option in Nicolas Hasler. I suspect that won’t happen, but it’s something to consider.
In the midfield obviously Ilie and Gutierrez should start but with Espinoza out, the question becomes who takes that spot? The obvious choice is 16-year-old phenom Gianluca Busio who has three goals in six MLS appearances this year. However, the case could be made that Kelyn Rowe should get the start. He was brought in to be the fourth midfielder and push for a starting role. I’m not sure he’ll start over Busio, but they should both see time and quite a bit of rotation with Espinoza out for a prolonged period.
Up front I could see Vermes tinkering with the lineup. Daniel Salloi is a few games back from his ankle injury and Gerso Fernandes went from being incredibly in form to struggling over his last two starts. Salloi would be a good change of pace, especially with New England possibly playing their reserves and sitting in deep. Salloi should be able to make those tight passes and more importantly finish his chances better than Gerso. Whoever starts, the other should see a good chunk of minutes.
Everything else should stay the same.
Rest of the 18: Zendejas, Gerso, Rwatubyaye, Hasler, Croizet, Rowe, Zelalem
Fan Starting XI
The fan vote was shockingly close to my prediction. The only change was Gerso over Salloi at left wing, but it was close with Salloi getting 43.8% of the vote (plus another 3.1% at center forward). Here are the other top vote getters for non-starters: Rwatubyaye (29.7%), Hasler (28.1%), Rowe [mid] (28.1%) and Croizet [defense] (20.3%).
Earlier this season, New England coach Brad Freidel had this abysmal quote about his team struggling.
“There’s not relegation, they don’t get fined, they don’t have fans waiting by their cars, they don’t have people beating them up. They don’t have the pressures they have in other leagues.”
For that stupidity alone, Sporting KC need to smash the Revolution. And if not for the abysmal showing against the San Jose Earthquakes last week, I’d have full faith and confidence that they would crush them. Who knows what to expect this week?
That said, the Revolution had to play on Wednesday (they lost) and they started the same 11 players on Wednesday and last Saturday. That will mean they will either be exhausted this coming Saturday or they’ll play a heavily rotated squad. It’ll be nice to see Sporting KC on the other side of the exhaustion equation. If SKC don’t win, let’s start to panic.
And if Sporting put a bad enough beating on the Revs (huge if), maybe Freidel is the next coach fired off a SKC beat down.
3-1 Sporting KC Win
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.
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