Sporting KC v Vancouver Whitecaps (#SKCvVAN)
When: Saturday, February 29, 2020 at 9:30 PM CT
Where: BC Place
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish)
What a difference a year makes. Last year, Sporting Kansas City entered the 2019 season on a high. They were coming off a road victory against Toluca FC in Mexico. The team had come up just short in the 2018 Western Conference Finals due to rules that weren’t in effect for 2019. Expectations were high!
But now... well, who knows where expectations are. Sporting KC are coming off their worst season in a decade. They missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010. They gave up an abysmal 67 goals. Expectations are high for new Designated Player Alan Pulido who joined the team on a record transfer fee. But the team just stumbled through a preseason — though do those games really matter?
Welcoming them to the 2020 season — MLS’ 25th — are the Vancouver Whitecaps. They are coached by the original Swope Park Rangers coach Marc dos Santos who is entering his second year in charge. The Whitecaps are the only team who finished worse than SKC in 2019 (38 points to 34 points). 11th and 12 respectively. If the game was at home, Sporting probably couldn’t ask for a better opener other than maybe against expansion side Nashville SC. Except it’s on the road and there is that brutally late kickoff time.
- Sporting KC were just 3-10-4 on the road in 2019 but they are 4-2-2 at BC Place all-time.
- “Sporting has earned a three-goal victory in each of its last two visits to BC Place, prevailing 3-0 in July 2019 and 4-1 in October 2018.” — By the Numbers
- SKC are 9-3-4 against Vancouver overall.
- Daniel Salloi scored a brace against Vancouver in 2018 but then only one goal in all of 2019 against all the teams he faced.
What’s Changed in Vancouver Since 2019?
OUT: No one you are going to miss from a Vancouver team that struggled through dos Santos’ first year. Three players loans ended (Lass Bangoura, Joaquin Ardaiz, Michael Chirinos), four options were declined (Sean Melvin, Brendan McDonough, Scott Sutter, Victor Giro), one was transferred overseas (Doniel Henry), two traded (Zac McMath to Real Salt Lake — David Norman Jr. to Inter Miami CF) and one that they mutually parted ways with (Jon Erice).
IN: They’ve made some legitimate moves to improve their team. The biggest being for striker Lucas Cavallini who joined on a record transfer fee. He was linked to Sporting KC (and some pundits like him more than Alan Pulido) and he bagged four goals in preseason (to Pulido’s zero).
Vancouver also added three players using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM). They are Colombian winger Cristian Dajome, Ghanaian midfielder Leonard Owusu (who played for Gadi Kinda’s old club FC Ashdod in Israel) and Argentine defender and MLS veteran Erik Godoy (who was with the Caps on loan last season and played 30 games).
For what changed for Sporting KC, check out Stacy’s season preview if you’ve been under a rock or need a helpful reminder.
OUT - Andreu Fontas (knee surgery)
QUESTIONABLE - Felipe Gutierrez (bone bruise) [PV said he’s day-to-day in his press conference this week]
*The official injury report was updated Friday and matches what we had originally for SKC. For the Caps we added Erik Godoy but his OUT/QUESTIONABLE portion isn’t actually listed. Owusu doesn’t appear to be hurt, but he’s not available so I’ll leave him there.
OUT - Leonard Owusu (unknown)
QUESTIONABLE - Ranko Veselinovic (bone bruise), Erik Godoy (left calf strain)
Starting XI Predictions
I’m going to be a pessimist. But not too much so. Preseason wasn’t great. Vancouver looked good in preseason. Sporting KC are on the road which they are historically pretty bad. However, they are pretty good at BC Place. My gut tells me Felipe Gutierrez won’t play. That’s not great. But neither are Vancouver (most of the time).
Marc dos Santos is a damn good coach. That Peter Vermes fella isn’t too bad himself. They both had bad years in 2020 for different reasons. dos Santos was new to the league. Vermes had what everyone hopes was an aberration from his norm.
It all feels kind of balanced. Let’s hope Sporting win by blowout but we’ll start cautiously with predictions.
What do you think? Predictions in the comments are welcome. How are you feeling about the season?
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