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Sporting KC v Chicago Fire: Preview, Predictions, Stats and Roster Changes

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The third and final eastern conference opponent of the year (not counting MLS Cup of course).

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MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Chicago Fire Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC v Chicago Fire

When: Saturday, September 11, 2021 at 7:00 PM CT (Kickoff 7:08)

Where: Children’s Mercy Park

How to Watch/Stream: Bally Sports KC Plus (regionally) | Bally Sports Midwest Plus (regionally) | Bally Sports App | ESPN+ (out of market or over VPN locally)
How to Listen: Sports Radio 810 WHB | La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish)

Saturday will be a return home after a disastrous trip to the California coast to take on Los Angeles FC by Sporting Kansas City. SKC will be looking to bounce back from a brutal 4-0 loss with their third and final came against an Eastern Conference foe in 2021 (unless they make the MLS Cup Final, of course).

Kansas City will have to have short memories after losing badly to a greatly depleted LAFC side who were missing 14 (but kind of 15) players. The result caused them to fall to third in the Western Conference standing, a point behind the Colorado Rapids (who still have two games in hand) and two points behind the first place Seattle Sounders.

Sporting Kansas City enter the match on their worst four game stretch of the season (0-1-3). Before this run, they didn’t have more than two games in a row that were losses or draws without finding a win and they haven’t lost back-to-back games all year.

The Fire on the other hand are on a rollercoaster. They’ve won three of five, their best stretch all year, but they’ve lost the two during that stretch that weren’t wins. Feast or famine. Before these most recent five games, they just had three wins in their prior 17 games. They are currently 11th in the East and seven points out of a playoff spot.

Saturday marks the beginning of a three game home stand where KC will be desperate to pick up a win (plus they play four of the next five at home). With only 11 games to go, this will be critical towards ending the summer swoon and entering the playoffs in good shape. SKC haven’t won at home since June 26th against LAFC.

Chicago’s Recent Form

As mentioned, Chicago are on their best run of the year with nine points in their last five games. Of course they’d be ‘hot’ as they come to Kansas City.

Two wins are against the 12th place Red Bulls and they’ve lost two of three on the road. So all signs aren’t so ominous for SKC.

What’s changed for Chicago since 2020?

The Chicago Fire haven’t made a ton of moves since the end of the 2020 season. They’ve only added five players and subtracted seven. That’s the best way to make a bad team better, right? Stand pat?

IN: All five additions to the Fire are transfers, despite them being in a massive city where they should be loaded with Homegrown talent. They’ve brought in forwards Chinonso Offor (transfer from Rigas), Stanislav Ivanov (transfer from Levski Sofia) and Jhon Jader Duran (transfer from Envigado FC that doesn’t kick in until 2022). They also added defender Jhon Espinoza from S.D. Aucas and midfielder Federico Navarro from Talleres.

Of those additions, only Navarro has over 1,000 minutes (1,161 in 16 appearances). After that, it’s all the way down to Espinoza as the next most minutes of their additions (279 minutes). Needless to say, they haven’t had an enormous impact.

OUT: The biggest subtractions are United States midfielder Djordje Mihailovic who was traded to CF Montreal for a hefty sum and former SKC forward CJ Sapong who is having a career resurgence with Nashville SC. The team also traded Brandt Bronico to future expansion side Charlotte FC and sold Przemyslaw Frankowski to RC Lens.

Injuries/Availability*

Sporting KC

OUT - Felipe Hernandez (personal reasons), Jaylin Lindsey (hamstring), Roger Espionza (red card)

QUESTIONABLE - None

*This has been updated by the official injury report. It’s previously been updated by removing Daniel Salloi and Gadi Kinda from the “questionable” designation as sources within the team confirmed they aren’t subject to quarantine and will be available to play this weekend. Jaylin Lindsey also confirmed he’s still a “couple of weeks” away.

Chicago

OUT - Kenneth Kronholm (right knee)

QUESTIONABLE - Ignacio Aliseda (left shin), Francisco Calvo (right thigh), Brian Gutierrez (right ankle)

Stats

Sporting KC

GOALS: Daniel Salloi (12), Alan Pulido (8), Gadi Kinda, Johnny Russell (4), Gianluca Busio, Jaylin Lindsey (2), Ilie Sanchez, Felipe Hernandez, Khiry Shelton, Cam Duke, Luis Martins (1)

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

Chicago

GOALS: Luka Stojanovic (7), Ignacio Aliseda, Robert Beric (3), Przemyslaw Frankowski, Boris Sekulic (2), five with one (1)

ASSISTS: Alvaro Medran (5), Sekulic (4), Frankowski, Fabian Herbers (3), Stojanovic (2), six with one (1)

Starting XI Predictions

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

Score Predictions

I don’t know what to write in this space anymore. Who are Sporting KC? This is their worst stretch of the season and they’ve only lost one in their last four (they just don’t have any wins). Lots of teams would be happy if this was their worst stretch, but expectations are high for Kansas City.

If you look at recent form, Kansas City are earning draws at home and Chicago is losing on the road. However, even in MLS, where parity is high, when the third place team faces the 11th place team, you expect the higher ranked to team win. Especially at home.

In the post-game press conference Ilie Sanchez legitimately sounded embarrassed by the team’s performance. “We don’t accept this happening and I guarantee we will change this,” he said. I believe him. Kansas City will find a way.

2-0 Sporting KC Win

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

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