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Sporting KC v Vancouver Whitecaps: Preview, Predictions, Stats, Injuries and Roster Changes

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MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Vancouver Whitecaps FC
I just love this picture.
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC v Vancouver Whitecaps (#SKCvVAN)

When: Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 10:00 PM CT

Where: ESPN Wide World of Sports in Walt Disney World

How to Watch/Stream: FS1 | Fox Deportes | fuboTV
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish)

It wasn’t always pretty, but Sporting Kansas City advanced out of the group stage and did so as the winners of Group D. They went 2-1-0 with wins over the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake after a disappointing stoppage time loss to Minnesota United.

Their opponents, the Vancouver Whitecaps, had a bit of a rougher road to the Round of 16 of the MLS is Back Tournament after going 1-2-0 with losses to the San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders before pulling off a late win against the Chicago Fire to advance.

Both teams also enter Sunday on short rest. Sporting are in better shape having played very early on Wednesday and getting three full days worth of rest. The Caps on the other hand had a weather delay on Thursday morning and only two days rest heading into the game and they are decimated by injuries and absences.

Five of their players never traveled into the bubble including new Designated Player, striker Lucas Cavallini. They are also without Tosaint Ricketts, Andy Rose, Georges Mukumbilwa and Fredy Montero, several of which accounts for a good portion of their attacking players.

At the other end of the pitch the team is down to one healthy goalkeeper, third stringer Thomas Hoval. He is a Homegrown keeper who is just 21-years-old and made his MLS debut in relief of an injured Maxime Crepeau, who left the Sounders game with a fractured thumb. The Whitecaps backup keeper, Bryan Meredith, left the bubble due the sudden death of his mother.

For the game against the Fire, due to complications of being a Canadian club, the Caps couldn’t use pool goalkeeper Charlie Lyon as Sporting KC did and instead got an emergency loan from the Montreal Impact for 19-year-old Jonathan Sirois. That loan expired at the end of the game, but likely something similar will need to be done for this matchup. At one point, it was thought the Whitecaps may need to play with just one GK, with no backup on the bench.

Interesting Stats

  • Sporting KC are undefeated in their last five meetings with the Whitecaps going 4-0-1.
  • SKC are 10-3-4 all-time in MLS regular season meetings with Vancouver. This game does not count as a regular season game though.
  • Vancouver have not beaten KC since September 2017.

What’s Changed for the Whitecaps Since 2019?

Since the club’s first meeting in the season opener Vancouver have made zero roster moves. So instead, I’ll point you back to what I wrote in February.

OUT: No one you are going to miss from a Vancouver team that struggled through Marc 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 — oh how things have changed in the regular season).

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).

They also added winger David Milinkovic on loan from Hull City (England) and central defender Ranko Veselinovic from FK Vojvodina (Serbia).

Injuries*

Sporting KC

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

QUESTIONABLE - None

*This has been updated with the official injury report. No changes for Sporting but Leonard Owusu (hamstring) was removed for Vancouver and David Milinkovic (hamstring) was added.

Vancouver

OUT - Lucas Cavallini, Tosaint Ricketts, Andy Rose, Georges Mukumbilwa and Fredy Montero (didn’t travel to Orlando), Maxime Crepeau (fractured thumb), Janio Bikel (left adductor strain), Erik Godoy (right quadricep strain), Bryan Meredith (death in the family)

QUESTIONABLE - Jasser Khmiri (knee), David Milinkovic (hamstring)

Suspensions

Sporting KC - None

Vancouver - None

Stats

Sporting KC

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

ASSISTS: Pulido (4), Kinda, Luis Martins (2), Roberto Puncec, Gerso, Johnny Russell, Shelton (1)

Vancouver

GOALS: Cristian Dajome (2), Ali Adnan, Yordy Reyna, Jake Nerwinski, Tosaint Ricketts (1)

ASSISTS: David Milinkovic, Adnan (2), Ryan Raposo, Reyna, Inbeom Hwang (1)

Starting XI Predictions

Once again, a good discussion was already had, so go check that out for lineup predictions.

Score Predictions

SKC are expected to win this game. That’s just the kind of thing that has tripped them up before. They sometimes are accused of playing down to their opponents. But literally everything is in their favor. Vancouver have 11 players either injured or absent that we know of. They have short rest and relatively few subs available. And Sporting KC have had their number for years.

Something to keep in mind is that Vancouver are pretty decent on the counter. They kept strong attacking players Yordy Reyna and Cristian Dajome on the bench and brought them on late to hit Chicago on the counter and it worked. That’s really the place that KC are most susceptible to getting beaten. Sporting often push too many men up the field and aren’t the fastest team at getting back. If Vancouver can nick a goal, anything can happen. And remember, there is no extra time, so it goes straight to penalties if it is tied.

All that said, Kansas City have to find a way. I’ll predict the same score as in the opener for symmetry.

3-1 Sporting KC Win

What do you think? Predictions in the comments are welcome. The round of 16! Let’s chat about it.

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