When: Saturday, April 23rd, 2022 at 7:30 PM CT (Kickoff 7:38)
Where: Children’s Mercy Park
How to Watch/Stream: 38 the Spot | ESPN+ (out of market) | SportingKC.com & SKC App (in market) | Sporting One App on Roku, Apple TV and Fire TV
How to Listen: La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish)
I saw it written in the comments right here on The Blue Testament, and it seems hyperbolic, but it feels like a must-win in these next two home games. Sporting Kansas City are an abysmal 2-6-0 to start the 2022 MLS season. Six points through eight games. 12th place. Just six goals scored while conceding 14. Almost nothing feels like it’s going right. So these two games against the Columbus Crew and FC Dallas at home, feel pretty important.
Dallas are actually in 4th in the West but Columbus are down in 9th at 2-3-2. They have lost three straight and are just 0-1-2 on the road this season. These two teams haven’t met since 2019, the last time Sporting KC were spiraling. SKC won that game on a Felipe Gutierrez goal (wouldn’t it be good to have the 2018-19 version of that guy around). Regardless, that was a long time ago.
And this is less about the opponent than it is about Sporting getting right. The team can’t score. They seemingly make one or two critical errors a game (at least). However, they’ve shown signs of improvement. It took a world class goal to undo them on the road against LAFC, who are at the top of the West. Then again, their only two wins were less than convincing, but at least they came at home where they are 2-1-0, losing only to Nashville after some horrific set-piece defending.
If they can’t do it against Columbus at home, then over a quarter of the season will be gone and the team won’t have much to show for it.
Columbus’ Recent Form
I’m going to stick to league results, but the Crew also lost their mid-week US Open Cup game against Detroit City 2-1 in Michigan. They most certainly didn’t play their starters though, so expect them to be mostly rested and ready for Saturday.
- March 12th vs. Toronto FC — 2-1 Win
- March 20th @ New York Red Bulls — 1-1 Draw
- April 2nd vs. Nashville SC — 0-1 Loss
- April 9th @ Philadelphia Union — 0-1 Loss
- April 16th vs. Orlando City — 0-2 Loss
So while the Crew have lost three (kind of four) straight, it’s to some of the best competition they’ve faced. However, it was mostly at home, which is kind of weird.
What’s New for Columbus in 2022?
It’s hard to believe this team won MLS Cup in 2020 since they were soooo bad in 2021. They’ve made a lot of changes to try and remedy their problems, but like SKC, they aren’t flying quite yet.
OUT: Gone are MLS vets Harrison Afful, Waylon Francis and Bradley Wright-Phillips. They’ve also sent out Aboubacar Keita to the Colorado Rapids (who are collecting all the Aboubacars) via trade and lost wingback Milton Valenzuela to FC Lugano (Switzerland). An underrated move is trading away Gregg Berhalter’s son, Sebastian, to the Vancouver Whitecaps.
IN: With struggling wing play, the Crew added Yaw Yeboah, who you may have heard of as he moved through the Manchester City system in the mid 2010s. He comes most recently from from Wisla Krakow in Poland where he had 10 goals in 50 games. The team also went international on signing center back Milos Degenek out of Australia. Their other ‘big’ international move was signing James Igbekeme on loan from Real Zaragoza. Other than that it’s bringing back guys they cut, signing Homegrowns, draft picks and picking up some young guys from around the league with recognizable last names in Jake Morris and Will Sands.
QUESTIONABLE - Uri Rosell (thigh), Johnny Russell (calf)
*This has been updated based on the official injury report.
Russell on his injury versus LAFC: "It definitely hampered me."— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) April 22, 2022
"It's not just me, there are a few guys that have problems here or there... you have to get through it." #SportingKC
OUT - Kevin Molino (right knee), Luis Diaz (back)
QUESTIONABLE - Lucas Zelerayan (right knee)
#Crew96 midfielder Lucas Zelarayan hasn’t practiced all week. IT band soreness and swelling on his knee.— Thomas Costello (@1ThomasCostello) April 22, 2022
Likely out on Saturday.
-Head coach Caleb Porter
Goals: Remi Walter (2), Daniel Salloi, Roger Espinoza, Johnny Russell (1)
Assists: Cam Duke, Felipe Hernandez, Daniel Salloi, Ben Sweat (1)
Goals: Lucas Zelarayan (4), Derrick Etienne Jr. (2), four with one
Assists: Zelarayan, Etienne, Steven Moreira (2), two with one
Starting XI Predictions
This will get it’s own story. Look for it closer to game day.
Away from home the Crew are scoring 1.33 goals per game and allowing 1.67. They only have one shutout on the year and that was against the Vancouver Whitecaps in their season opener. Since then, they’ve failed to keep their opponent from scoring. That seems like a positive sign for Sporting who have struggled to score. The team actually give up most of their goals in either the first 15 or the last 15 (six of their nine allowed). Sporting are usually out on the front foot and knocking one in early could go a long way.
Even if the underlying numbers seem promising, I simply can’t pick this team to win until they prove to me they can do it. They’ve lost three straight (like Columbus) and frankly, picking a draw is probably optimistic considering the run of form. A draw is not good enough, but that’s the best I can muster to type out.
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