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Sporting KC v Austin FC: Preview, Predictions and Roster Changes

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The hometown hero returns.

MLS: Austin FC at Los Angeles FC Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC v Austin FC

When: Sunday, May 9, 2021 at 6:30 PM CT

Where: Children’s Mercy Park

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

It’s the storyline you’ll hear all week (and every time he comes home). Former Sporting Kansas City draft pick and captain, Matt Besler, is returning to KC, but with another team. He is now a linchpin in the defense of expansion side Austin FC, who are off to a better start to 2021 than Besler’s former team.

Kansas City enter the Mother’s Day matchup with diminishing results over the last couple weeks. A win, then a draw, then a loss. But this is a return to a home field that has been quite the advantage historically. With a national television audience watching, Sporting KC will look to get things headed in the right direction.

But Matt Besler isn’t the only former Wizard that will be with Austin on Sunday. Head coach Josh Wolff and assistant coach Davy Arnaud are former KC players as well. Davy stopped by and talked to The Blue Testament’s Shades of Blue Soccer Show in preparation for the match.

Sporting better start to get things right as they will play three times in eight days, with a road trip to Houston jammed between home games against Austin and Vancouver.

Austin’s 2020 & 2021 Results

2020: N/A

2021: After losing their opener to Los Angeles FC, they’ve reeled off two straight wins to improve to 2-1-0. Austin will play their first eight games on the road, including twice coming to Children’s Mercy Park. Despite being an expansion team, they are set up for great success if they bring a strong record into a schedule that is backloaded with home games.

What’s Changed for Austin Since 2020?

Everything, basically. The team had only signed a few players before the 2020-21 offseason but have kicked their roster build into a required high gear.

OUT: The team did draft two players in the expansion draft who are already gone. They drafted Joe Corona but he spurned them and joined the Houston Dynamo and they drafted and traded defender Kamal Miller.

IN: The biggest names to watch are the two Designated Players. Winger, Cecilio Dominquez had previous stops at Club America (Mexico) and Independiente (Argentina) before coming to Texas. He is joined by fellow DP Tomas Pochettino who is tasked with being the creative number 10 in the midfield.

Otherwise, the team is loaded with experienced MLS veterans that are making them hard to break down. They spent big to acquire holding midfielder Alexander Ring (New York City FC) and he’s looked well worth the money. They also have the aforementioned Besler and spent big to trade for fullback Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes).

The offense has tons of MLS vets too, including the team’s leading scorer, Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution), Jon Gallagher (Atlanta United), Kekuta Manneh (so many teams) and former San Jose striker Danny Hoesen.

Injuries*

Sporting KC

OUT - Felipe Hernandez (knee)

QUESTIONABLE - Nicolas Isimat-Mirin (hamstring)

*This has been updated from the official injury report. Tim Melia and Graham Zusi are off the injury report. That doesn’t mean they’ll play, but it seems to indicate they could.

Austin

OUT - Aaron Schoenfeld (left knee), Ulises Segura (left knee), Ben Sweat (ACL)

QUESTIONABLE - None

Stats

Sporting KC

GOALS: Daniel Salloi, Gadi Kinda, Gianluca Busio, Alan Pulido (1)

ASSISTS: Khiry Shelton^, Daniel Salloi (1)

^Shelton lost an assist in the opener, apparently it took a slight deflection.

Austin

GOALS: Diego Fagundez, Cecilio Dominquez (2)

ASSISTS: Gallagher, Hoesen, Kolmanic, Reyes, Stroud (1)

Starting XI Predictions

Look for this once the official injury report is out.

Score Predictions

Robert already did the work and scouted Austin FC ahead of Sunday’s game. He comes away confident and predicts a win, but I’m turning into my old pessimistic self again. Sporting needs to win their home games (0-0-1 in 2021 so far). But their recent declining results are heading in the wrong direction.

Theoretically, another week of practice and chemistry building should lead to better results. But with the uncertain status of several players and an inability to get all the team’s best players on the field in their best spots, it’s hard to feel confident.

I’m bad at predicting results, but I’m confident that KC fans will be jealous of Alexander Ring’s performance in the midfield.

2-2 Draw

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

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