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

Just six games remain in Sporting Kansas City’s season before the playoffs begin.

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MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Sporting Kansas City William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC @ Vancouver Whitecaps

When: Sunday, October 17, 2021 at 9:00 PM CT (Kickoff 9:08)

Where: BC Place

How to Watch/Stream: Bally Sports KC (regionally) | Bally Sports Midwest (regionally) | Bally Sports App | ESPN+ (out of market or over VPN locally)
How to Listen: ESPN 94.5 FM | La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish)

The news around Kansas City sports has been bleak lately. The Kansas City Chiefs find themselves in the cellar of the AFC West with a 2-3 record. The Kansas City Royals season came to an end, missing the playoffs again having last gone in 2015 when they won the World Series.

Sporting Kansas City haven’t been quite so bleak. They are winners of two straight and four of their last five, but during the international break they got a spate of bad news. First, it was announced that midfielder Felipe Hernandez, who had missed significant time for “personal reasons,” had been suspended for the remainder of the 2021 season due to a sports betting controversy that included betting on two MLS games. Then shortly after that, it was announced that Alan Pulido had undergone knee surgery and would miss three to five weeks.

The team has to find a way to push those things to the side and perform in their final six games. The Supporters Shield is lost with the New England Revolution 15 points up on KC but the Western Conference is still there to be won, though it’s becoming bleak. Seattle maintains a five point lead as they took their game in hand and pounded out the Vancouver Whitecaps, Kansas City’s opponent this week. Only three of Seattle’s final six games are against playoff opposition (including SKC) while four of KC’s are against teams currently above the red line.

That makes a game like Sunday’s, even though it’s on the road, a must win. Sporting KC have historically done well against Vancouver, but they are a team fighting for their playoff lives as they currently sit in 8th place, just one point behind 7th place Minnesota United.

Vancouver’s Recent Form

Before the bad loss to Seattle, Vancouver had been performing admirably. They were without a loss in their prior four, including a draw against the third place Colorado Rapids.

If we stretch to 10 games, Vancouver’s record improves to 6-2-2 as they had won four of their previous five before the above stretch. Prior to this 10-game stretch, Vancouver only had three wins in their prior 18 games.

What’s changed for Vancouver since these teams last met?

The biggest change is the firing of head coach, and former Swope Park Rangers coach, Marc dos Santos. Ironically, the team had won two straight at the time of his firing. Vancouver’s director of methodology Vanni Sartini is the interim coach.

IN: The biggest addition has been Brian White, who was traded for from the New York Red Bulls. The striker had been somewhat inconsistent for RBNY scoring 15 goals over three seasons. Since joining Vancouver (in June!) he’s scored 10 (!!!) for the Caps. He was added for $400,000 in allocation money (with another $100,000 available in incentives). The team also made a move to stabilize their defense with the addition of center back Florian Jungwirth from the Quakes via trade (for another $200,000, but up to $300,000, in allocation money).

The Caps also added midfielders Ryan Gauld from SC Farense (Portugal’s second division) and Pedro Vite from Independiente del Valle (Ecuador). Plus defender Marcus Godinho via free transfer, who last played for FSV Zwickau in the German third division. Of these three, Gauld has had the most obvious impact with two goals and four assists already.

OUT: The biggest subtraction is former Designated Player left back, Ali Adnan, who mutually agreed to terminate his deal (you can’t have a DP fullback, it’s bad business in MLS). Plus, the Caps loaned out three players, defender Derek Cornelius to Panetolikos FC (Greece), forward Theo Bair to Hamarkameratene (Norway) and midfieilder Simon Colyn to Jong PSV, the reserve team for PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands.

For the moves prior to their first meeting in May, head back to that preview.

Injuries/Availability*

Sporting KC

OUT - Felipe Hernandez (suspension), Jaylin Lindsey (hamstring), Alan Pulido (knee surgery)

QUESTIONABLE - None

*This has been updated based on Peter Vermes’ Friday press conference.

Vancouver

OUT - Caio Alexandre (left foot, fifth metatarsal fracture), Erik Godoy (right foot)

QUESTIONABLE - Cristian Gutierrez (left quad strain), Ranko Veselinovic (right groin), Lucas Cavallini (left knee irritation)

Stats

Sporting KC

GOALS: Daniel Salloi (16), Johnny Russell (1), Alan Pulido (8), Gadi Kinda (5), Gianluca Busio, Jaylin Lindsey, Khiry Shelton, Cam Duke (2), Ilie Sanchez, Felipe Hernandez, Luis Martins, Jose Mauri (1)

ASSISTS: Johnny Russell, Daniel Salloi (7), Khiry Shelton (6), Graham Zusi (5), Gadi Kinda (4), Gianluca Busio, Alan Pulido (3), Luis Martins, Felipe Hernandez (2), Andreu Fontas, Jaylin Lindsey, Remi Walter, Roger Espinoza, Jose Mauri (1)

Vancouver

GOALS: Brian White (10), Cristian Dajome (8), Deiber Caicedo (4), Lucas Cavallini (3), Ryan Gauld, Andy Rose (2), five with one (1)

ASSISTS: Caicedo (6), Javain Brown, Dajome, Gauld (4), Cristian Guitierrez (3), Ryan Raposo, Russel Teibert (2), four with one

Starting XI Predictions

This will have it’s own story, as always.

Score Predictions

With the way that Vancouver have been scoring goals and the way that Sporting KC have found a way to leak goals, there has to be some concern. Particularly because Vancouver have been especially prolific at home. They’ve only lost one of their last six home games, to the surging Portland Timbers. They’ve scored 12 goals in the other five games with Brian White lighting the great white north on fire with 10 since joining in the summer.

However, all but one of those five wins are against teams currently outside of the playoffs (the RSL win being the exception). Head-to-head, SKC have an immense advantage. They are 11-3-4 against Vancouver all-time, including a 3-0 win earlier this season. In that game, Alan Pulido started and Khiry Shelton was at right wing. With Pulido hurt and Johnny Russell in fine form, it’ll be interesting to see if they can handle this much improved Vancouver side.

Regardless of the changes, SKC have to get three points to keep the Sounders within striking distance with their third and final meeting (outside of the playoffs) coming next weekend. I think Vancouver finishes better than they did last time out, but SKC still have enough in the tank to win on the road. My biggest concern is their mediocre record off a long break and it’s the only thing that gives me pause.

3-2 Sporting KC Win

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

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