Sporting KC @ Austin FC
When: Wednesday, November 3, 2021 at 8:00 PM CT (Kickoff 8:08)
Where: Q2 Stadium
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)
Sporting Kansas City enter Wednesday’s match already qualified for the playoffs and locked into one of the top three positions in the West. However, they are now in a three-way tie with the Seattle Sounders and Colorado Rapids for first (Update: Seattle just leveled with LA Galaxy in the 50th minute to go up by a point). Three teams, all on 58 points with two to play (the Sounders are playing as I write this). SKC are technically in first as they are a win ahead of Colorado (the first tiebreaker) and have a one goal advantage in goal differential on Seattle (the second tiebreaker) and an eight goal advantage on the Rapids.
They have to be lamenting the fact that they lost on the road to Minnesota United in a critical game Sunday afternoon. That loss propelled Minnesota into fifth and stole a chance to use their ‘game in hand’ to widen their extremely thin lead. What makes it more painful is they lost, in my opinion, primarily because they were tired. You can lose while resting some guys and then they could be fresh for a critical set of games against Austin FC and Real Salt Lake on the weekend on Decision Day. Instead, they either keep pushing through on tired legs in Austin or give some guys a rest and hope they can beat one of the worst teams in the league.
It wasn’t all bad news on Sunday for Kansas City as they saw the return of Daniel Salloi and Jose Mauri from injury. Salloi is still in the Golden Boot race despite missing a couple games and is just two goals behind NYCFC’s Taty Castellanos. He probably won’t pull it off and the playoffs are more important, but it’s a race worth watching. Everyone around Salloi in the Golden Boot race takes penalty kicks instead of him. So if he doesn’t win it, I’ll put down a mental asterisk even if no one else will.
Austin’s Recent Form
Would you be surprised to hear that Austin are literally in their best form of the year? Of course they are when they are about to face Sporting KC. Now, that’s not saying much. They are dead last in the Western Conference but they’ve won three of seven (which is still not great), but it’s their most points of any stretch of the season (better if you drop off that Dallas loss last weekend).
- October 2nd vs. Real Salt Lake - 2-1 Win
- October 16th @ Minnesota United - 0-1 Loss
- October 20th @ San Jose Earthquakes - 0-4 Loss
- October 24th vs. Houston Dynamo - 2-1 Win
- October 30th @ FC Dallas - 1-2 Loss
Worth noting, Austin are much better at home than they are on the road. They are 6-8-2, which is bad, but they are stronger in that home stadium. That crowd is wild and Austin only have two wins away from home, so it’s just a bit tougher for KC heading into Q2.
Austin and KC last played in June and the Trees (I assume that’s what we call them with that logo) have made some moves to try to improve their roster since then.
IN: The biggest addition is Designated Player forward, Sebastian Driussi who was signed from Zenit St. Petersburg (Russia). He is joined by forward Moussa Djitte from Grenoble Foot 38 (French 2nd division), as well as forward McKinze Gaines and Homegrown midfielder Owen Wolff who is the son of head coach Josh Wolff.
QUESTIONABLE - None
Suspended Next Yellow - Roger Espinoza
*This has been updated based on the official injury report.
OUT - Ulises Segura (left knee), Aaron Schoenfeld (left knee), Ben Sweat (ACL), Danny Hoesen (left hip), Matt Besler (concussion), Rodney Redes (left knee), Jhohan Romana (left hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE - None
GOALS: Daniel Salloi (16), Johnny Russell (14), Alan Pulido (8), Gadi Kinda (5), Khiry Shelton (3),
Gianluca Busio, Jaylin Lindsey, Cam Duke (2), Ilie Sanchez, Felipe Hernandez, Luis Martins, Jose Mauri, Remi Walter (1)
ASSISTS: Daniel Salloi, Johnny Russell (8), Khiry Shelton, Gadi Kinda (6), Graham Zusi (5),
Gianluca Busio, Alan Pulido, Luis Martins (3), Felipe Hernandez, Roger Espinoza (2), Andreu Fontas, Jaylin Lindsey, Remi Walter, Jose Mauri (1)
GOALS: Cecilio Dominguez, Diego Fagundez (7), Sebastian Driussi, Alex Ring (4), Jon Gallagher (3), Tomas Pochettino (2), four with one (1)
ASSISTS: Driussi (5), Dominguez (4), Fagundez, Zan Kolmanic, Nick Lima, Ring, Jared Stroud (3), Julio Cascante, Hector Jimenez, Pochettino (2), five with one (1)
Starting XI Predictions
This will have it’s own story, as always.
If Sporting want to win the West, this is a must-win game. With the race being so tight, no points can be dropped. Austin is a bad team and Kansas City should be able to win, however, with the complete and utter lack of rest and heavily congested schedule, it’s possible they just don’t have it in their legs.
Peter Vermes said Daniel Salloi shouldn’t have an issue going 90 minutes as he hasn’t lost his fitness, so that’ll be critical to get some fresh legs out there. Theoretically, Isimat-Mirin will be ready to go again too and it’s hard to believe he doesn’t clean up at least one of those goals against Minnesota if he didn’t need rest.
I don’t think it’ll be pretty, but I have to think Sporting KC find a way to get it done. Even if they don’t, they are still going to be really dangerous in the playoffs, but having a bye and lessening the playoff congestion just a bit could go a long way. Plus it’s one less chance to get eliminated. You just need to win three times in the playoffs to win the whole thing if you get a bye.
2-1 Sporting KC Win
What do you think? Predictions in the comments are welcome. Let’s chat about it.
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