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Sporting KC v Real Salt Lake: Preview, Predictions, Stats, Injuries and Roster Changes

An old rivalry renewed on Decision Day.

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MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Real Salt Lake Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC @ Real Salt Lake

When: Sunday, November 8, 2020 at 5:30 PM CT

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium

How to Watch/Stream: | Fox Sports Kansas City (regionally) | Fox Sports Midwest (regionally) | ESPN+ (out of market)
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish)

Sporting Kansas City enter Decision Day off an unexpected bout of rest. Their game last weekend against Minnesota United was cancelled late in the week due to a COVID-19 case for Minnesota. The rest could be a good recipe to be fresh entering the playoffs.

Salt Lake on the other hand have dipped into a slump and it cost them their playoff lives. Back-to-back losses have seen them eliminated with nothing to play for outside of the chance to play spoilers against SKC.

There are two big storylines going into the game. First, Alan Pulido is rumored to be injured and out three to four weeks. That would be a huge blow as we detailed in our initial story.

The other storyline is the battle for first place in the Western Conference standings. The Seattle Sounders were kind enough to lose on the road to the Colorado Rapids (3-1) and then to barely scrape out a 1-1 draw late against LA Galaxy on Wednesday. Those results moved Seattle down to third and leave SKC in first place. Second place Portland also lost on Wednesday bringing their PPG to 1.73. That was also to the Rapids. Thanks Colorado!

If Sporting add no more points their point per game average can finish as low as 1.71 (where Seattle currently is). A draw moves SKC to 1.76 and a win on the road puts them at 1.86 which would clinch a first place finish. That’s homefield advantage until at least MLS Cup.

Salt Lake’s Recent Results

What’s Changed for Real Salt Lake Since the Last Meeting?

There is just a single change since the summer match-up during MLS is Back. RSL agreed to mutually terminate the contract of forward Sam Johnson just days ago on Halloween. This comes on the heels of him being suspended for throwing large house parties during the pandemic. Intelligent.

For all the other changes since the 2019 season, check out our prior preview.

Injuries*

Sporting KC

OUT - Felipe Gutierrez (knee surgery), Graham Zusi (foot surgery), Alan Pulido (MCL left knee)

QUESTIONABLE - Gianluca Busio (unknown), Winston Reid (groin)

*This will be updated as more information becomes available. Questionable are a guess based on Busio and Reid missing action last week against FC Cincinnati.

Salt Lake

OUT - Giuseppe Rossi, Chris Garcia

QUESTIONABLE - Unknown

Suspensions

Sporting KC - None

Salt Lake - None

Stats

Sporting KC

GOALS: Johnny Russell, Alan Pulido, Gadi Kinda (6), Khiry Shelton, Erik Hurtado (4), Gerso Fernandes (3), Roger Espinoza (2), Graham Zusi, Gianluca Busio, Andreu Fontas, Winston Reid (1)

ASSISTS: Pulido (5), Russell, Kinda (4), Gerso, Busio (3), Luis Martins, Espinoza (2), Roberto Puncec, Shelton, Jaylin Lindsey, Felipe Hernandez, Zusi, Ilie Sanchez, Amadou Dia (1)

Salt Lake

GOALS: Damir Kreilach (8), Justin Meram, Albert Rusnak (3), Corey Baird, Douglas Martinez (2), five with one (1)

ASSISTS: Maikal Chang (6), Baird (4), Meram (3), Rusnak (2), four with one (1)

Form

Sporting KC - W / L / D / W / W (10 points)

Salt Lake - L / W / D / L / L (4 points)

Starting XI Predictions

Time permitting, this will come closer to the game. There is a press conference on Friday which should shed some light on the injury situation.

Score Predictions

Salt Lake have absolutely nothing but pride to play for. A wounded animal can be dangerous, or they can just roll over and die. In the last game of 2019 for SKC they played a lot of kids and were blown out on Decision Day. It feels like it’s time to blow out RSL as a bit of redemption.

The problem is this is somewhat of a rivalry game, though less so without Benny Feilhaber on the roster. Add to that the fact that KC struggle in the altitude of Sandy, Utah and it should be a competitive game.

If Pulido can’t go, that can be a game changer too. Add to it that SKC are just 2-8-5 in the last 15 regular season meetings against RSL all the way back to 2014. Injuries, elevation, travel and a tough match leaves me lacking confidence. Prove me wrong KC! There is everything to play for.

1-1 Draw

What do you think? Predictions in the comments are welcome. Let’s chat about it.

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