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MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Los Angeles FC

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Sporting KC v LAFC: Preview, Predictions and How to Watch

Los Angeles FC are in first and Sporting KC... aren’t. This should be interesting.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC @ LAFC

When: Sunday, April 17th, 2022 at 3:00 PM CT (Kickoff 3:08)

MLS’ site says 3:08 kickoff, despite it being on ESPN. Let’s hope that’s accurate.

Where: Banc of California Stadium

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

Talk about two teams going in different directions. In 2021, Sporting KC were an uncalled handball away from first place and had an easy path to homefield advantage (that they blew) throughout the MLS Cup Playoffs. Los Angeles FC were sitting at home not even taking part.

So far in 2022, LAFC are on top of the Western Conference with 13 points through six games and 14 goals to their names. Sporting KC have played seven games but have only six points and five goals. Plus, they are all the way down in 12th. Obviously it’s early, but there are signs to be concerned about.

But standings and form, don’t always mean something. In September of 2022, when SKC were on top of the world and Los Angeles were struggling, KC went to LA and lost 4-0. It wasn’t helped by a Roger Espinoza red card in the 58th minute, but they didn’t look great in that game. Maybe KC can sneak into LA and flip the script. They are the all-time winningest road team in that stadium with a whopping 2-2-0 record. In fact, someone always wins between these clubs and it’s never ended in a draw, with SKC 4-3-0 in the seven meetings in club history.

LAFC’s Recent Form

The Black and Gold LA team are an impressive 4-1-1 to start the year, though they did lose a wild one in the El Trafico matchup last weekend.

So, at least they are in a slump?? Not really though. They should have scored and probably beaten the Galaxy. There is just something about that rivalry where Carson holds an advantage over LA.

What’s New for LAFC in 2022?

I’ll let my colleague David Greenwald do the heavy lifting here. He previewed LAFC before the season, and his predictions seems to be spot on. Since he wrote that story, just a single move has happened. The team transferred out defender Kim Moon-Hwan to Jeonbuk Hyundai (South Korea).

Injuries/Availability*

Sporting KC

OUT - Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Gadi Kinda (knee surgery)

QUESTIONABLE - Uri Rosell (thigh)

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

LAFC

OUT - Eddie Segura (right knee), Erik Dueñas (left knee)

QUESTIONABLE - None

Stats

Sporting KC

Goals: Remi Walter (2), Daniel Salloi, Roger Espinoza, Johnny Russell (1)

Assists: Cam Duke, Felipe Hernandez, Daniel Salloi, Ben Sweat (1)

LAFC

Goals: Carlos Vela (4), Ryan Hollingshead, Kwadwo Opoku (2), six with one

Assists: Jose Cifuentes, Vela (2), four with one

Starting XI Predictions

This will get it’s own story. Look for it closer to game day.

Score Predictions

I and my fellow The Blue Testament contributors (not all of them though), seem to be about the only people thinking Sporting Kansas City still have a chance in 2022. I won’t lie, nothing looks good on the surface. The team can’t score, they are giving up costly goals and they can’t stay healthy. Looking back at the start of 2022 and it’s easy to see Gadi Kinda is more important to this team than maybe anyone gave him credit for (particularly me).

But the season is still very long and there are plenty of games to go. Bad teams make the playoffs in MLS all the time and mediocre teams go on runs that sometimes end in MLS Cup. This isn’t Europe where a start like this will doom your season and the coach would have already been fired (and I’m glad it’s not on both of those accounts). While this is tough to watch right now, the players seem committed to turning it around.

Then again, it could be 2019 all over again. The team tried to run it back that year after a solid season and it feel apart. All the tell-tale signs are there. Injuries. Regression. Unmet expectations. But I for one, am still holding out.

However, when it comes to predictions, until the team show me something, I can’t pick them to win, or frankly even tie, games. LAFC has nearly outscored KC three to one on the year (in one less game). At the same time, they’ve allowed about half as many goals. They have Carlos Vela, who appears to be healthy and contributing like he did when he was the league MVP and Golden Boot winner.

Plus he’s surrounded by talented guys that step up game after game. And there are two former Sporting KC guys on the team (Latif Blessing and Ilie Sanchez), so they’ll probably both be good for a goal each against KC based on how 2022 has gone so far.

2-1 LAFC Win

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