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MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Los Angeles FC

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

Our old friend Ilie Sanchez brings his first place Los Angeles FC back to Kansas City.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sporting KC vs LAFC

When: Sunday, July 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)

Sporting Kansas City are in a precarious position. The climb is very steep. Their chances of making the MLS Cup Playoffs becomes smaller and smaller each week. They basically need to win nine of the last 12 games. This from a team that has five wins in 22 tries so far. The door isn’t completely shut but it’s flying towards Kansas City’s collective faces.

So let’s focus elsewhere. LAFC and former Sporting KC midfielder Ilie Sanchez are coming to town for the first time in 2022 this weekend. Ilie was released after the season, and Peter Vermes basically confirmed it came down to money.

Now let’s talk about Ilie. I’ve contended all year, and I would still contend, he doesn’t fix this team. I think there is no doubt he’d be the best defensive midfielder on Sporting. However, his flaws would still be exposed on this team. So even though he’s an all-star with Los Angeles, he wouldn’t be here, though maybe KC pick up a few extra points.

Ilie was awesome. He’s missed, but I’m still okay with the move to release him. I think most of us thought Jose Mauri was going to be the guy, but that blew up big time and for that PV has to own it as he built the roster. In Uri Rosell’s defense, I don’t think he was ever meant to be more than the backup. And Remi Walter is still very serviceable in that role, and even started over Ilie there at times in 2021 because he wasn’t exactly crushing it his last season in KC when he wasn’t forced to play CB.

Moving on...

LAFC’s Recent Form

LAFC are very good. To find a second loss (not counting the US Open Cup) in their recent stretch takes us all the way back to May 18th versus Austin FC, who they are fiercely battling for first in the West.

What’s new for the LAFC for 2022?

This is the first meeting between these clubs, so look no further than our season preview for LAFC (who David was rightfully high on) to see most of their offseason moves. Even since that story was written, they’ve made some key signings.

IN: Since the above article, LAFC have added four more players. Most notably (and controversially) is Gareth Bale. The Wales international is somehow playing on a Targeted Allocation Money deal (meaning he makes no more than $1.6125 million after making like $35m last year). Also signing on a TAM deal is veteran Italian center back Giorgio Chiellini on a free transfer. The team also traded for Orlando City midfielder Sebastian Mendez this week.

OUT: Since the above article (which you should read for a deeper look at this rebuild), LAFC have moved just three players off the squad. Fullback Kim Moon-Hwan was transferred to Jeonbuk Hyundai in South Korea. Doneil Henry was waived and just this week they loaned out midfielder Francisco Ginella to Nacional (Uruguay).

Injuries/Availability*

Sporting KC

OUT - Alan Pulido (knee surgery), Gadi Kinda (SEI - knee surgery), Ozzie Cisneros (hamstring), Roger Espinoza (red card), Kortne Ford (suspension)

QUESTIONABLE - Graham Zusi (quad), Tim Melia (shoulder)

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

LAFC

OUT - Julian Gaines (pelvis), Danny Musovski (left leg)

QUESTIONABLE - Brian Rodriguez (right leg)

Discipline Watch for Sporting KC

Suspended Next Yellow Card: Johnny Russell, Roger Espinoza

Stats

Sporting KC

Goals: Johnny Russell (6), Daniel Salloi (4), Remi Walter (3), Roger Espinoza (2), Marinos Tzionis, Felipe Hernandez, Graham Zusi (1)

Assists: Felipe Hernandez, Cam Duke (3), Daniel Salloi, Ben Sweat, Uri Rosell, Roger Espinoza, Remi Walter, Khiry Shelton, Kayden Pierre (1)

LAFC

Goals: Cristian Arango (8), Jose Cifuentes, Carlos Vela (6), Ryan Hollingshead, Kwadwo Opoku (4), Danny Musovski, Brian Rodriguez, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (2), six with one (1)

Assists: Vela (8), Cifuentes (4), Diego Palacios, Rodriguez (3), Kellyn Acosta, Arango, Latif Blessing, Jesus Murillo (2), five with one (1)

Starting XI Predictions

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

Predictions

Man, LAFC are so good. Just looking at their stats above shows how stacked they are. They have international stars, MLS level stars, super promising young players and crazy depth. It’s no wonder they are tops in the Western Conference right now.

And they come into Kansas City, who have lost three straight at home (in league play) and are dead last. First versus the worst. It’s the kind of game that SKC could trap LAFC. But there is nothing about the Sporting KC attack as of late, other than unsustainable goals from distance, that says they can win this game.

I hope I’m wrong about this result.

Either way, they should honestly be looking to next Wednesday’s semifinal US Open Cup game at the Sacramento Republic, as it’s the only hope to salvage their season at this point. Two wins for a trophy. The regular season is effectively over.

3-1 LAFC Win

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