Competition: Major League Soccer – Sporting Kansas City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park – Saturday, March 12 – 20:30 ET (01:30 GMT)
Match Odds: Sporting Kansas City 19/20 – Draw 12/5 – Vancouver Whitecaps 3/1
SKC picked up an excellent 1-0 away win against the Seattle Sounders in their opening game last weekend thanks to an unlikely debut goal from centre-back Nuno Coelho.
Although the Sounders were reduced to ten men after 41 minutes, Peter Vermes will still be delighted to see his side pick up an extremely valuable three points at a ground where few teams tend to win in MLS.
It should mean that SKC will be heading into this game full of confidence, and will be looking to win their first two games of an MLS season for the first time since 2012.
Vancouver Whitecaps provided one of the most entertaining games of the opening weekend, although they will be disappointed to be on the wrong end of a five-goal thriller as they lost 3-2 at home to Montreal Impact.
Goals from defenders Jordan Harvey and Kendall Watson couldn’t prevent a disappointing defeat, and the Whitecaps players have to quickly dust themselves down in preparation for a tough away game.
Carl Robinson’s side have won just one of their last nine games in MLS (D3, L5), carrying over results from 2015, so he will be hoping they can find some form, starting here.
Sporting Kansas City won both games against Vancouver Whitecaps in 2015, with the most recent clash ending 4-3 in a pulsating contest at Sporting Park in August – the other victory was a narrow 1-0 success at BC Place in July.
Sporting Kansas City have a whole host of injury concerns. They are likely to be without defenders Ike Opara (thigh) and Seth Sinovic (neck), while midfielders Justin Mapp (toe), Brad Davis (groin), Benny Feilhaber (abdomen) and Paulo Nagamura (leg) are also expected to miss out.
Vancouver Whitecaps won’t be able to call upon the injured Christian Dean (foot) and Russell Teibert (calf). Octavio Rivero was the club’s top goalscorer in 2015 and will be looking to open his account for 2016. He managed six shots, with four on-target last weekend, but to no avail.
Sporting Kansas City’s MLS form: W
Vancouver Whitecaps’ MLS form: L
Key Stat: Vancouver Whitecaps have never won away at Sporting Kansas City (D1, L2).
Key Player: Dom Dwyer – SKC will be desperate for their striker to start firing on all cylinders this year. He was the leading goalscorer at the club last season with 12 goals, but you feel that any true success this year could hinge on what Dwyer can produce for his side. They’ll be hopeful he can contribute a number of goals closer to the 22 he scored in 2014. The first home game of the new season may provide the perfect platform.
Sporting Kansas City 2-2 Vancouver Whitecaps – SKC have never lost a game at home to the Whitecaps and will be full of confidence after their opening day win. But Vancouver have a potent attacking force and will believe they can take at least a point from this one. Whatever the outcome, this should be an entertaining clash.