Sporting KC v San Jose Earthquakes (#SKCvSJ)
When: Saturday, August 17th, 2019 at 7:30 PM CT
Where: Children’s Mercy Park
How to Watch/Stream: FOX Sports Kansas City Plus | FOX Sports Midwest Plus | Fox Sports Go | ESPN+
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM
Time hasn’t officially run out, but it’s darn close. Sporting Kansas City are down to just nine games left to play and they don’t get any easier from here. All but three upcoming opponents are currently in playoff spots and only the Colorado Rapids are behind Sporting KC in the standings. It won’t be easy, but those are exactly the teams you need to beat to make it into the playoffs.
Almost assuredly SKC will miss the playoffs in 2019, which will be the first time after they made it eight straight seasons.
The San Jose Earthquakes are coming to town as the 6th place team in the West with games in hand on everyone ahead of them in the standings. Their season turned around when they met SKC in San Jose back on April 20th. And that’s when Sporting’s season went sour. It was a 4-1 beat down that saw SKC lose Roger Espinoza and Matt Besler to injury. It marked the day where SJ came into their own under new coach Matias Almeyda.
Stats don’t mean much when Sporting are playing for the third time in eight days, but one thing jumped out at me. They have won 11 of 12 meetings against the Quakes when they were at home. The lone loss? A 5-0 shelling where things were so bad the broadcast couldn’t choose a man of the match, so they gave it to the KC Cauldron. The Cauldron and all the other supporters groups, will be needed in full force on Saturday.
- Felipe Gutierrez has done quite well against SJ scoring three times and assisting twice in three games.
- In their last seven meetings SKC are 5-1-1 against the Earthquakes
- All these stats are stupid because SJ are a different team, despite similar players, under Almeyda.
What’s changed for San Jose since these teams first met?
Since the first meeting between these clubs, San Jose have made two moves that could be big. First, they went to Liga MX (where Matias Almeyda previously coached) and snagged midfielder Carlos Fierro from Cruz Azul (Mexico). Then, later in the transfer window, the club added forward Andres Winger for Racing Club (Argentina).
For all their previous moves, check out our initial preview.
QUESTIONABLE - Krisztian Nemeth (abdominal), Botond Barath (back), Gerso Fernandes (ankle)
*This story has been updated with the official injury report. Cameron Duke was removed from the injury report.
OUT - None
QUESTIONABLE - Cristian Espinoza (lower leg injury), Andres Rios (upper thigh injury), Anibal Godoy (abdomen surgery)
Sporting KC - None (Felipe Gutierrez suspended next yellow card)
San Jose - None (Harold Cummings, Judson and Nick Lima suspended next yellow card)
GOALS - Felipe Gutierrez (10), Johnny Russell (8), Krisztian Nemeth (7), Gianluca Busio, Yohan Croizet (3), Ilie Sanchez (2), Gerso, Erik Hurtado (1)
ASSISTS - Johnny Russell, Gerso Fernandes (5), Ilie Sanchez (4), Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi, Yohan Croizet,
Kelyn Rowe, Felipe Gutierrez, Krisztian Nemeth, Benny Feilhaber (2), Nicolas Hasler, Seth Sinovic (1)
GOALS - Chris Wondolowski (9), Vako (8), Shea Salinas (6), Magnus Eriksson, Danny Hoesen (5), Cristian Espinoza, Jackson Yueill, Tommy Thompson (2), Nick Lima (1)
ASSISTS - Espinoza (9), Eriksson (6), Salinas, Vako, Yueill (3), Hoesen, Anibal Godoy, Lima (2), five others with one
Starting XI Predictions
Sporting KC have lots of problems heading into this game. Their injuries have climbed back up to six players as of this writing. They are playing their third game in eight days. And Yohan Croizet, a diverse player that has filled in nearly everywhere, is AWOL. He has been left out of the 18 as a coaches decision the last two weeks.
Croizet’s absence is a mysterious one that led to Jimmy Medranda, a left back/midfielder/winger starting at center forward. A move that would either show that Peter Vermes is a genius or leave everyone questioning his move. 45 minutes later, Erik Hurtado was in and the Medranda start at CF appeared to be a mistake.
[Quick aside: why didn’t Medranda start on the wing? He is faster than Gianluca Busio and Bus is actually good a making runs into the box, and Medranda clearly wasn’t. That said, at this point, Sporting should be trying different things because their season is basically over. Though, I expect PV to keep going for it.]
Hurtado probably needed to not start three straight games and with Nemeth still questionable, he probably starts again. However, if Nemeth can start, he should. Teams tend to sit a little deeper when they play at CMP so that is more suited to Nemeth’s game. If Nemeth can’t get things going, sub him off in the second and let Hurtado try to beat a hopefully more tired SJ squad.
On the wings I suspect it’ll be Salloi and Russell with Gerso available off the bench. It’s possible Russell will be too tired and if Gerso is healthy Salloi and he could start.
In the midfield, it’s hard to imagine all three of those guys starting again with it being the third game in eight days and with another midweek game on Thursday. I’d rest Espinoza and since Vermes is still likely going for it I could see Feilhaber getting the start. Busio is a great option off the bench.
In the back, the options to rotate the squad are limited at CB. Besler and Smith seem likely to start again unless Barath is healthy. The fullbacks are ripe for rotation. Luis Martins made his debut and he or Jimmy Medranda should start at LB. At right back, I’m hoping Jaylin Lindsey is healthy enough to go, but if not, rest Zusi and play Nicolas Hasler.
Rest of the 18: Dick, Fontas, Zusi, Sinovic, Busio, Hurtado, Gerso
Freeman, Zelalem and Lindsey all started for Swope Park on Friday. So scratch Lindsey above and let’s say it’s Hasler.
Fan Starting XI
The fan vote was and will probably continue to be, all over the place. You guys had three differences. You have Espinoza at CM, Hurtado at CF and Gerso over Salloi on the wing. Here are the players who aren’t starters with the most votes: Barath (34.7%), Sinovic (30.6%), Lindsey (28.6%), Busio/Zelalem (20.4% each), Feilhaber/Zusi/Medranda[wing] (16.3% each) and Nemeth (12.2%).
Sporting KC have a losing record at home (4-5-3). Let that sink in. In 2018 they lost two home games in the regular season. In 2017 they lost once. They’ve already accumulated five losses in 2019. CMP needs to be a fortress and this year it simply hasn’t been. They play three straight games at home. Five more in their next nine. They have to win them all and at least two road games. That is simply not going to happen.
3-2 San Jose Win
What do you think? Predictions in the comments 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 (or right).
The Blue Testament has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though The Blue Testament and SB Nation may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our guiding principles. If you want to support the site, you can sign up for ESPN+ and we receive a small commission.