Sporting KC v Orlando City
When: Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 6:30 PM CT
Where: Children’s Mercy Park
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish)
Sporting Kansas City are reeling. They have won just one time in their last six outings and this past Saturday, when it appeared they were on the cusp of a remarkable comeback after being down 2-0, a late Graham Zusi giveaway in the box led to FC Dallas netting the game winner (their third in a row).
KC welcome Orlando City to town and they are as hot as an Orlando summer. They sit third in the Eastern Conference on 22 points (two more points than SKC who are somehow still second in the West). Orlando enter having gone unbeaten in six, including four victories, against weaker competition (who would have thought two games against Atlanta United would count as weak competition?) than Sporting though.
It’s not exactly critical that Sporting win this match (more on that in a second), but they have really struggled at home in 2020. They are (2-2-1) at home this season, making CMP less of a fortress than it usually is. Despite KC being in second, just five points separate them from 10th place.
Despite all that, FiveThirtyEight.com is giving them an 85 percent chance of making the playoffs. That is partially because of where they stand and their points per game so far, and partially because eight of the 12 Western Conference teams make the playoffs. Reel off a few wins and they’ll run away with this thing. Easier said than done.
- Sporting KC are a perfect 2-0-0 against Orlando at Children’s Mercy Park.
- “Sporting has outshot Orlando 50-15 in the previous two meetings at Children’s Mercy Park.” (By the Numbers)
- Despite the 35 shot advantage the aggregate score in those two games was 3-1 in favor of KC. By no means a wipeout.
- Orlando City have allowed 10 of their 14 goals in the second half. They are particularly susceptible right after the half, where they have allowed 29 percent of their goals.
- Sporting are also particularly weak right after the half allowing 28 percent of their goals in the first 15 minutes. They’ve allowed another 28 percent in the final 15 minutes.
What’s Changed for Orlando Since 2019?
IN: Orlando has made several big moves that looked relatively low key at the time. The biggest is probably goalkeeper Pedro Gallese (on a free transfer) who has made a huge impact between the sticks. The team also added CB Antonio Carlos who has been a staple on the back line via loan from Palmeiras (Brazil). Another key addition is midfielder Junior Urso via transfer from Corinthians (Brazil).
Perhaps one of the low-key biggest additions was through the 2020 MLS SuperDraft. Striker Daryl Dike was taken fifth overall and has recently taken over as the starting CF and put in three goals and three assists in just 499 minutes. He joins fellow SuperDraft pick Chris Mueller who was a 2018 first round pick (sixth overall). Mueller leads the team in goals (7) and assists (5).
Orlando added several other players, including some younger players on loan who haven’t had quite as big of an impact yet, but have real potential.
OUT: The team simply let a lot of players walk and it seems to have worked out well for them. The biggest name was a disappointment in Florida — midfielder Sacha Kljestan. The team also declined contract options on long-time midfielder Will Johnson and Cristian Higuita. Orlando have really made over the roster, specifically since new coach Oscar Pareja arrived and they look much better for it.
QUESTIONABLE - Winston Reid (unknown)
*Updated 9/22/2020 to include Martins being out and 9/23/2020 with official injury report.
According to game notes, as of Monday, the following players were not medically cleared to play:— Thad (@TheBackpost) September 22, 2020
• GK - Richard Sanchez
• DEF - Luis Martins
• MID - Roger Espinoza
• MID - Felipe Gutierrez
• FWD - Daniel Salloi#SportingKC
Vermes on Pulido's injury at the press conference: "a little bit of a strain, it was more of a nerve in his hamstring. It escalated to a bit of a strain. We didn't want to push it to where it would become a pull or tear. We've been a little bit more cautious." #SportingKC— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) September 18, 2020
QUESTIONABLE - None
For Orlando, according to game notes, as of Monday, the following players were not medically cleared to play:— Thad (@TheBackpost) September 22, 2020
Dom Dwyer, João Moutinho, Uri Rosell
Sporting KC - Gianluca Busio [yellow card accumulation] (Gadi Kinda suspended next yellow card, Ilie Sanchez out with two more yellows)
Orlando - None
GOALS: Johnny Russell (5), Gadi Kinda, Khiry Shelton (4), Alan Pulido (3), Erik Hurtado (2), Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi, Gerso Fernandes, Gianluca Busio (1)
ASSISTS: Pulido (4), Kinda, Luis Martins, Gerso (2), Busio, Roberto Puncec, Johnny Russell, Shelton, Jaylin Lindsey, Felipe Hernandez, Graham Zusi (1)
GOALS: Chris Mueller (7), Nani (4), Daryl Dike, Benji Michel (3), Mauricio Pereyra, Junior Urso (2), Tesho Akindele (1)
ASSISTS: Mueller (5), Pereyra (4), Dike, Nani (3), Andres Perea, Joao Moutinho, Urso (2), three with one (1)
Sporting KC - D / D / L / W / L (5 points)
Orlando - W / D / D / W / W (11 points)
Starting XI Predictions
This will come closer to the game. Peter Vermes has a press conference on Tuesday. Look for a separate story with those predictions.
When you are the home team, you should have a pretty big advantage. Even without fans, the lack of travel on a short week should be helpful. That simply hasn’t been the case as pointed out above. Plus, Sporting haven’t shown they can hold it together defensively and put in goals in the same games. One win in six after winning five of their first six is quite the drop off.
If Alan Pulido returns — which Vermes seemed to indicate will happen — then this could be a different team. But he was slumping before KC was. He scored a consolation goal against the Philadelphia Union during MLS is Back but failed to assist or score in the three games he appeared in before disappearing with his hamstring issues.
Maybe the team will turn it around Wednesday, but it’s hard to pick them to win with Orlando knocking in so many goals and the SKC defense being so leaky. Johnny Russell tried to carry this team to victory on Saturday but it was given away late. If he stays hot, you never know, but with Orlando hanging four on the Chicago Fire, it doesn’t give much hope. One slimmer of hope comes in that Chicago squandered a ton of chances in that game. If SKC capitalizes, they should win. That’s a big IF lately.
2-1 Orlando City Win
What do you think? Predictions in the comments are welcome. Let’s chat about it.
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