Sporting KC vs. Nashville SC
When: Saturday, April 9th, 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)
One step forward... then two steps back. Sporting Kansas City seemed to be figuring things out. The team was getting healthy, everyone who didn’t have surgery in the offseason was back, but then they go and lose to the Vancouver Whitecaps on the road. To be clear, unlike most of Twitter, I’m still not worried. Maybe I’m being naïve about this whole thing, but that goal by Vancouver was weird. It was a bit lucky. Plus the injured players just returned to practice this week for the first time together since preseason. It’ll get better.
Sporting’s finishing problems are real though and they have to shake them. This weekend may not be the best time to try and figure that out. Sporting KC are welcoming Nashville SC to town, who have one of the stingiest defenses in the league. This will be the second ever meeting between these clubs (SKC won 2-1 in the first meeting). Even though the team joined the league in 2020 and were supposed to always be in the Western Conference, COVID and other factors pushed them to the East.
And Nashville, in their two short seasons, have proven to be a team to contend with. They finished tied for second (technically third) behind the record setting New England Revolution and the Philadelphia Union in 2021. They weren’t bad in 2020’s shortened season either, making the playoffs both years of their existence.
A lot of credit for Nashville’s success goes to Mike Jacobs, who built the team after learning to ply his trade under Sporting KC’s Peter Vermes before he left to start this expansion team. Through five games, they’ve allowed five goals, which isn’t anything record breaking (it’s not even best in the league), but in 2021 they only allowed 33 goals and were tied for the best in the league with the Seattle Sounders. Scoring this weekend could be difficult.
Nashville’s Recent Form
Nashville are off to a slow start, so they have that in common with Sporting KC. They have just two wins and a draw through five, sitting a single point ahead of Kansas City in the standings (with a game in hand).
- February 27th @ Seattle Sounders — 1-0 Win
- March 5th @ Minnesota United — 1-1 Draw
- March 12th @ FC Dallas — 0-2 Loss
- March 19th @ Real Salt Lake — 1-2 Loss
- April 2nd @ Columbus Crew — 1-0 Win
As you can see, Nashville are on the road, so they have a bit more of an excuse. They beat a depleted Sounders team who were tired from CCL and frankly got lucky last weekend when Pedro Santos slipped and fell leaving Alex Muyl wide open for the game winner. They stay on the road until May 1st, when they open their new stadium.
What’s New for Nashville in 2022?
Nashville had an interesting offseason. They got rid of 12 players (including trading Daniel Rios just before the season started) but only added five guys.
OUT: Despite losing 12, there aren’t any big names. They sold Alistair Johnson to CF Montreal for a huge sum of GAM. That was a stunner because I didn’t know he was worth that much. They declined the transfer option on striker Jhonder Cadiz, who never quite lived up to the hype. Plus they parted ways with MLS veterans David Accam, Abu Danladi and former SKC man, Jalil Anibaba.
IN: A bunch of low-key, contributor type moves. They traded for forward Ethan Zubak from the LA Galaxy and signed free agent (and another former SKC player) Teal Bunbury. They added a backup goalkeeper in Bryan Meredith. But perhaps their biggest move, was the under the radar free agent signing of Sean Davis from the New York Red Bulls.
Imagine if that’s the offseason Sporting KC had. Fans would burn it to the ground.
QUESTIONABLE - Kortne Ford (ankle)
*This has been updated based on the official injury report just for KC.
#SportingKC Availability Report:— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) April 7, 2022
OUT - Gadi Kinda (knee), Alan Pulido (knee), Jose Mauri (unavailable)
QUESTIONABLE - None
Kortne Ford and Uri Rosell officially removed from the report. It's the best report of the season. #SKCvNSH
Gadi Kinda was out doing some work on the side today. Vermes said he's still in "offseason mode" and did not provide a timetable for his return. #SportingKC— Daniel Sperry (@sperrydaniel94) April 5, 2022
OUT - Teal Bunbury (right knee), Irakoze Donasiyano (left thigh), Robert Castellanos (right ankle surgery)
QUESTIONABLE - Unknown
No mid-week updates yet, but follow Ben Wright of Speedway Soccer, because he’s all over the Nashville beat.
Goals: Daniel Salloi, Roger Espinoza, Remi Walter, Johnny Russell (1)
Assists: Cam Duke, Felipe Hernandez (1)
Goals: Anibal Godoy, CJ Sapong, Muyl, Walker Zimmerman (1)
Assists: Hany Mukhtar (3), Randal Leal, Dax McCarty, Taylor Washington (1)
Starting XI Predictions
This will get it’s own story. Look for it closer to game day.
Honestly, I think Sporting KC are a better team than Nashville, but that doesn’t mean I think they’ll win. They’ve basically proven nothing this season by going 2-4-0. They are undefeated at home, where this game will take place, but neither of those wins have inspired confidence.
One thing they have pulled off in those wins are shut outs. I think they’ll need to keep that going to have a good shot Saturday because Nashville are very hard to break down. It could end in a 0-0 draw and more moans and groans. That said, 2021 SKC that were on fire could have ended in a 0-0 draw (or more likely failed to score and Nashville nicked one on the counter last year).
I believe Sporting KC are going to get it going. Remember though, teams pack it in at home against KC and Nashville have one of the league’s best defenses and back-to-back defender of the year Walker Zimmerman. The more words I write, the more I think SKC will give up a counter goal and lose this thing. Though I’ll be optimistic and say SKC get a draw Isn’t that sad that this passes for optimism right now?
Until Sporting KC find their form, I just can’t pick them to win.
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