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

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RSL has almost nothing to play for which could be good for KC.

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MLS: Real Salt Lake at Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi (8) keeps the ball from Real Salt Lake midfielder Albert Rusnak (11) early in a match at Children’s Mercy Park.
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC v Real Salt Lake (#RSLvSKC)

When: Wednesday, July 22, 2020 at 8:00 AM CT

Where: ESPN Wide World of Sports in Walt Disney World

How to Watch/Stream: ESPN | ESPN Deportes | fuboTV
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish)

Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake face off in what could be Sporting’s last game of the tournament, depending on tie breakers and other results. Now, even if SKC lose, the odds are still decent that Sporting KC go through, but a win or a draw guarantees it. Salt Lake has essentially already punched their ticket and are just battling for seeding at this point. Five Thirty Eight gives RSL a greater than 99% chance to advance and SKC an 88% chance.

Let’s ignore seeding for a moment and remember these teams are bitter rivals. While Kansas City don’t have any formal rivals according to MLS and their Rivalry Week match-ups, RSL is as close as any. And Salt Lake has gotten the better of KC recently going 8-1-5 in their last 14 regular season meetings. Though the Colorado Rapids were in a similar boat and managed to crumble in the Orlando humidity.

As much as I’d like to think RSL will rest their starters, including their star Designated Player Albert Rusnak who is day-to-day with a hip injury, this game counts for the regular season, so they may still be pushing hard for it (if there will even be a regular season).

Interesting Stats

  • Despite recent floundering against Salt Lake, Sporting are 9-13-8 all-time, so it’s not as bad as the recent trend has made it look. Plus, no altitude this time out!
  • Kansas City are much better against RSL in tournament based competitions (US Open Cup, MLS Cup Playoffs) going 3-1-2 in their last six. Though technically, this is a regular season game.
  • RSL forward Corey Baird loves playing against Sporting as he’s scored four times across four appearances.

What’s Changed at Real Salt Lake Since 2019?

Lots of note worthy names are no longer with RSL. Possibly the most notable is goalkeeper Nick Rimando who retired. They also lost promising winger and known flopper Sebastian Saucedo who is now in Liga MX and longtime winger Joao Plata. Former Sporting KC midfielder Kelyn Rowe was out of contract and fullback Danilo Acosta had his option declined.

In the additions category the team traded for Zac MacMath from the Vancouver Whitecaps to hold down the keeper spot until future star GK, the youthful David Ochoa is ready (and healthy). Their two biggest additions are probably young Venezuelan winger Jeizon Ramírez who transferred from Deportivo Tachira (Venezuela) and veteran forward Gieseppi Rossi who has played for such clubs as Manchester United, Villarreal, Fiorentina, Genoa as well as featuring for the Italian National Team in his long career.

Injuries*

Sporting KC

OUT - Andreu Fontas (achilles surgery), Felipe Gutierrez (knee surgery)

QUESTIONABLE - Luis Martins (whatever caused him to leave the field Friday)

*This will be updated with the official injury report and already has been updated to reflect that Rusnak is out (though the story has not).

Salt Lake

OUT - Christopher Garcia (non soccer injury), David Ochoa (right thumb), Nedum Onuoha (Not in ORL), Albert Rusnak (hip)

QUESTIONABLE - None

Suspensions

Sporting KC - None

Salt Lake - None

Stats

Sporting KC

GOALS: Alan Pulido, Khiry Shelton (3), Gadi Kinda (2), Erik Hurtado, Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi (1)

ASSISTS: Pulido, Kinda, Luis Martins (2), Roberto Puncec, Gerso Fernandes, Johnny Russell, Shelton (1)

Salt Lake

GOALS: Damir Kreilach (2), Albert Rusnak (1)

ASSISTS: Corey Baird, Aaron Herrera (1)

Starting XI Predictions

Once again, I dedicated more words to who should start than the entire preview, so it’s got it’s own story. Go read it!

Score Predictions

Sporting KC just need to draw or win to move on. They theoretically could even move on with a loss (but let’s not back in). Salt Lake has nothing but seeding and pride to play for. It seems like SKC should easily be able to get a result, but that’s the kind of thinking that ends in a disappointing loss. I’ll say they find a way to get the point (at least).

What will be interesting is to see if SKC can break down RSL. They’ve allowed a single goal in four games this year (and have only scored three). It has the potential to be ugly and slow.

1-1 Draw

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

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