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Sporting KC v LAFC: Preview, Predictions, Stats and Roster Changes

It’s the third game in eight days, LAFC have Carlos Vela back and are coming off their own big win, what gives on Saturday?

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Los Angeles FC
Sporting KC defender Graham Zusi (8) and LAFC forward Diego Rossi (9) battle for the ball in the second half at Banc of California Stadium.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC v LAFC

When: Saturday, June 26, 2021 at 4:30 PM CT (Kickoff 4:38)

Where: Children’s Mercy Park

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

Sporting Kansas City will wrap up a three game stretch over eight days with a chance to, once again, prove they are for real. They lost to, now fifth place, Portland this past weekend in a close road game before dominating the (then third place) Colorado Rapids back at home on Wednesday. The opponent will be Los Angeles Football Club, who actually enter the game with the worst record of any of these four teams. They are just outside the playoffs in the eighth spot.

SKC and LAFC haven’t met since 2019 after the COVID-19 altered 2020 season. Sporting didn’t play LAFC, Portland or Seattle last year, which many used that “softer schedule” to call into question Sporting’s first place finish in the West. The teams are 2-2-0 against each other all-time, with SKC taking both games in 2018 and LAFC getting both in 2019. A lot has changed since these teams last met.

LAFC’s Recent Form

Los Angeles are up and down over their last five, going 2-2-1, bringing their season record to 3-3-3, the definition of up and down.

LA haven’t been on the road in five weeks. In fact, of their nine games this season, only three have been road games where they are 0-2-1.

What’s changed for LAFC since 2020?

After an inconsistent 2020 season that mostly didn’t include Carlos Vela, LAFC looked to bounce back in 2021 and made a few moves to bolster their chances.

IN: The team traded for forward Corey Baird from Real Salt Lake for a healthy sum of allocation money. The team also traded for Portland Timbers fullback Marco Farfan and signed fullback/right side player, Kim Moon-Hwan from Busan IPark (South Korea). LAFC also made some more low key moves bringing in forward Cal Jennings from Indy Eleven (USL), GK Tomas Romero by acquiring his Homegrown rights from the Philadelphia Union and by adding MLS draft pick Alvaro Quezada.

OUT: The biggest “out” is the loan of winger Brian Rodriguez to UD Almeria, but he’s technically available to LAFC after the loan expired (though he’s still away with Uruguay for Copa America). The team declined options for four others, including striker Bradley Wright-Phillips, let a couple other contracts expire (Mohamed El-Munir, Dejan Jakovic), terminated the contract of GK Kenneth Vermeer and the loan of former SKC II player, Mark Segbers, expired.

Injuries/Availability*

Sporting KC

OUT - Remi Walter (knee)

QUESTIONABLE - Gadi Kinda (foot), Graham Zusi (hamstring), Luis Martins (hamstring)

*This has been updated with the official injury report.

LAFC

OUT - Kwadwo Opoku (left knee), Diego Palacios (international duty), Brian Rodriguez (international duty)

QUESTIONABLE - Tristan Blackmon (left quad)

Stats

Sporting KC

GOALS: Daniel Salloi (6), Alan Pulido (5), Gadi Kinda (3), Gianluca Busio, Jaylin Lindsey (2), Ilie Sanchez, Felipe Hernandez (1)

ASSISTS: Khiry Shelton, Daniel Salloi, Johnny Russell (3), Luis Martins, Gadi Kinda, Gianluca Busio, Alan Pulido, Andreu Fontas, Felipe Hernandez, Jaylin Lindsey (1)

LAFC

GOALS: Corey Baird, Diego Rossi (3), Jose Cifuentes (2), three with one (1)

ASSISTS: Carlos Vela (3), Edward Atuesta, Baird, Latif Blessing (2), four with one (1)

Starting XI Predictions

Look for this closer to the game, as usual, in it’s own story.

Score Predictions

After missing about a month of the season with what was maybe an injury, or maybe something else, LAFC has had Carlos Vela back for their last four games and they’ve gone 2-1-1 in that stretch, but it was all at home. Can Vela hit the road and keep up his recent form? He was subbed off early in the last two games but he also has a goal and two assists in those games, including a goal and an assist last night against FC Dallas.

So goes Vela, so goes Los Angeles FC.

Sporting aren’t playing too bad themselves. They sat Alan Pulido (their Vela??) for the first 45 minutes against the Rapids on Wednesday but it didn’t matter as Daniel Salloi had himself a first half brace. Salloi has moved into third in the league in goals scored (6) behind only Chicharito and Raul Ruidiaz who both have eight (he’s tied with them both on goals plus assist with nine).

SKC improved to 4-0-2 at home but presumably they’ll need a little more squad rotation playing so many games so close together. Plus this game is in a National TV slot in the late afternoon on what is expected to be a wet and humid Saturday.

When you see SKC play like they did on Wednesday, it feels like they can beat anyone. Even in their last two losses to Houston and Portland, it felt like they were as good if not better than their opponents (even their xG and xG against are trending in the right direction). It seems they should win, but pessimism is working for me, so I’ll keep hoping I’ll predict these results incorrectly and it works out for the best.

2-2 Draw

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

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