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MLS: Playoffs- Semifinals-Real Salt Lake at Sporting KC

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Sporting KC v Real Salt Lake: Preview, Predictions and How to Watch

One team is tied for the best record in the league, and if you are coming to this site, you know it’s not the team you are pulling for.

This is how I remember RSL versus SKC. Sporting getting pushed around. Hopefully not this time.
| Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC vs. Real Salt Lake

When: Saturday, March 26th, 2022 at 6:00 PM CT (Kickoff 6:08)

Where: Children’s Mercy Park

How to Watch/Stream: 38 the Spot | TUDN Twitter
How to Listen: ESPN 94.5 (English) | La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish)

Things haven’t been great for Sporting Kansas City in 2022. They are off to a 1-3-0 start, losing all three road games and allowing eight goals. The good news is they are coming back to Kansas City this weekend. The bad news is, they are playing their red hot rival, Real Salt Lake.

RSL have won three straight, against what are considered to be three playoff teams (Seattle, New England and Nashville). They were aided a bit by Seattle and the Revs having CCL games tiring them out a bit, but none-the-less they have 10 points through four games and are tied with LAFC and the Philadelphia Union for the best record in MLS. That, despite being essentially the same team that barely squeaked into the playoffs in 2021 off a missed handball on Decision Day (still not bitter, as you can tell).

This will be the first time these teams have met since RSL sent SKC home in the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs off two late goals when Sporting had a path to hosting MLS Cup all wrapped up.

This match will be played against the weird MLS backdrop of not taking off weekends that are international windows. The USMNT will be embroiled in the final three World Cup Qualifying matches (they may have qualified by the time you are reading this if it went really well), but MLS isn’t resting. Only six teams play this weekend and usually Sporting wouldn’t be too damaged playing during the break, but they are already down so many players to injury, if some players don’t return they’ll be eligible for a hardship call up from Sporting KC II (less than 16 field players).

Many injured players are practicing, so that’s at least a plus. And Sporting KC will need them because they are just 11-15-8 against RSL all-time in regular season league play and an abysmal 3-10-5 against RSL in their last 18 meetings, including 1-4-3 at home. It doesn’t strike confidence into your heart.

RSL’s Recent Form

Are RSL good? Probably not, but they are definitely hot and they always have Sporting’s number even when RSL are an awful team.

What’s New for Salt Lake in 2022?

My colleague, David Greenwald, already previewed Real Salt Lake, so I’ll encourage you to head over there and check that out (scroll down to the comments to see my bad takes on their moves). Since his preview, they’ve only added one more player, defender Jasper Loeffelsend, a 2022 SuperDraft pick.

Injuries/Availability*

Sporting KC

OUT - Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Gadi Kinda (knee surgery), Logan Ndenbe (Int. Duty - Belgium U21s), Marinos Tzionis (Int. Duty - Cyprus)

QUESTIONABLE - Khiry Shelton (calf), Daniel Salloi (calf), Johnny Russell (hamstring), Uri Rosell (hamstring)

*This has been updated based on the official injury report.

Salt Lake

OUT - Justen Glad (hamstring), David Ochoa (quad), Zack Farnsworth (left ankle), Nick Besler (nose), Bret Halsey (right ankle), Justin Meram (Int. Duty - Iraq)

QUESTIONABLE - Aaron Herrera (quad), Damir Kreilach (calf), Marcelo Silva (toe)

Beat writer Tom Hackett should be a good follow to stay up to date on these injuries.

Stats

Sporting KC

Goals: Daniel Salloi, Roger Espinoza, Remi Walter (1)

Assists: Cam Duke, Felipe Hernandez (1)

Salt Lake

Goals: Tate Schmitt, Bobby Wood (2), Sergio Cordova, Glad (1)

Assists: Pablo Ruiz (2), four with one (1)

Starting XI Predictions

This will get it’s own story. Look for it closer to game day. (Update: Here it is.)

Score Predictions

At this point, I just can’t pick Sporting Kansas City. Even when they were relatively healthy for the first two games, they were disjointed. Sure, they won the home game against the Houston Dynamo, but they look like they are really bad (they do have five points to KC’s three, so maybe I should re-evaluate who’s bad here).

For me, until it’s lifted, Sporting KC have been cursed. They lost all three meetings with RSL last year and recent form favors Salt Lake and is bad for KC. Add that to an unknown injury situation for Kansas City, and it looks grim. What’s stunning is how beat up RSL are and they are still winning games. I’ve made plenty of excuses for Kansas City, but this would be a really good time to turn things around. I’ll believe it when I see it.

2-1 RSL Win

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