So... Sporting KC. As Johnny Russell said in a presser this week, ‘we know what those games are like’. Yes, we do.
And while RSL was not good enough in 2020 to really feel like Sporting KC taking the last match of the season 2-0 was unexpected, I don’t think we will ever be OK with 2013 ... but we digress. So, what to look for with Sporting KC. Remember, these two teams are historically well matched with a 14-14-10 record all time across all competitions.
Sporting KC is coming off a 1-1 match against Orlando. They will be coming into Rio Tinto Stadium, and they have six road wins all-time against us, and only two road losses. Now, Peter Vermes will have his squad ready to go, so let’s break down predicted lineup for Sporting KC.
Players we probably won’t see: Tim Melia, Graham Zusi (although he is working his way back to health), Brooks Thompson, Ilie Sanchez, and Nicolas Isimat-Mirin.
Who we might see (that didn’t start in the Orlando match): Johnny Russell, Alan Pulido
Who we never want to see: Roger Espinoza (although it is hard to gauge whether or not our hatred of him outweighs their hatred for the newly named head soccer coach of Utah Valley University.)
We will likely see: look for a similar lineup as they had for the Orlando match, with maybe one of the before mentioned players getting their first starts of the season.
Kansas City had an easy schedule last season, but they also topped the West...until a playoff to be forgotten. They got burned on transitions, and while they have an actually better team on paper this season, they are also missing some key players to injury.
Look for them to attack and grind down the RSL defense. Look for a 4-3-3 formation, and look for them to continue to try to get Busio to take the reigns out on the pitch. He is dynamic, and can play a 9 or (they hope) a 10. Look for a physical match (of course) and look for KC to be hungry to get all three points after only taking home one last week.