2018 Key Transfers: Sporting Kansas City

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Sporting Kansas City and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

Sporting Kansas City will class the 2017 campaign as a successful one. Yes, they failed to get beyond the Knockout Round for the fourth-straight year. But they did win the US Open Cup in September and also boasted the league’s best defence, conceding just 29 in 34 games. The aim this year will be to remain tight at the back but improve the attack. They had the third-worst offence in 2017 and will hope their busy offseason work can help them in front of goal…

Key Signings

Khiry Shelton: Shelton joins Sporting KC from New York City FC, where he had been since being drafted with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. He was mainly used as an impact player off the bench for NYCFC – a role he might have to accept at SKC too. But in 54 appearances, he managed six goals and 10 assists. He’s still only 24 and will hope a change of scenery can spark his MLS career into life.

Johnny Russell: Scottish attacker Russell made the move from English Championship side Derby County to Sporting Kansas City for an estimated £250,000. His contract was due to expire in the summer after five seasons with the Rams and he decided to make the move to MLS in time for the new season. He should be fresh, having only started 13 games during Derby’s 2017/18 league campaign. Expect the 27-year-old to slot in on the wing for SKC this season in a key role.

Brad Evans: MLS veteran Evans joins from Seattle, where he spent the past nine seasons, winning the MLS Cup in 2016. He is unlikely to find his way into the starting XI on a regular basis but he is a great option for depth in a number of positions. Plus, his experience will prove invaluable in the dressing room over the course of the season.

Yohan Croizet: Sporting KC have brought in the 26-year-old Croizet as a Designated Player ahead of the 2018 season, in the hope he can fill the void left by Benny Feilhaber’s departure. The Frenchman joins from Belgian side KV Mechelen, where he scored five goals and assisted seven in 54 games. He is expected to be a key man for SKC in 2018 and fans will hope he can settle quickly into the league.

Felipe Gutierrez: Another Designated Player signing expected to add a real spark to Sporting KC’s attack is Felipe Gutierrez. The 27-year-old Chilean midfielder joins after leaving Real Betis and could prove to be one of the signings of the season. He has 35 Chile caps to his name and is incredibly experienced, having played well over 200 games for four clubs in four different nations. He should adapt quickly to MLS and will either shine in the No. 10 role, or as a box-to-box midfielder, if Croizet is preferred in the No. 10 position.

Notable Departures

Benny Feilhaber: Sporting Kansas City waved goodbye to a real fan favourite, sending Feilhaber to expansion side LAFC in return for $400,000 in allocation money. SKC fans were quick to panic following the 33-year-old’s departure but he was in the final year of his contract and so cashing in now makes sense. He registered 29 goals and 41 assists in five seasons with Sporting KC, also winning MLS Cup in 2013. No doubt, he will be missed on and off the field.

Latif Blessing: Following Feilhaber to LAFC is 21-year-old attacker Latif Blessing, who was also something of a fan favourite in 2017. He only spent one season with SKC, but did score three goals and add one assist in what was a promising campaign for someone so young. The Ghanaian was selected in the second round of the 2017 Expansion Draft after being left unprotected by Sporting KC.

Erik Palmer-Brown: U.S. Under-20 international Palmer-Brown completed a move to Manchester City this winter. He wasn’t a regular in the SKC team but he is a player with huge potential, hence why Man City have decided to make a move for him. The youngster has since be loaned out to Belgian First Division A club KV Kortrijk until the summer. The centre-back played a total of 20 games in his four seasons with SKC, while he spent 2016 on loan at FC Porto.

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2018 Key Transfers: LAFC

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we will be running through the main ins and outs for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at the league’s newest side, Los Angeles FC and their key signings ahead of their inaugural MLS campaign in 2018…

Los Angeles FC are entering the league as the 23rd franchise competing for glory in MLS in 2018. Led by the experienced Bob Bradley, many are expecting LAFC to make their mark in the West as they try and become the first expansion franchise to life the MLS Cup since Chicago did it in 1998. Oh, and Chicago were coached by Bob Bradley then too. Realistically, the expectation will be to make the playoffs at the first time of asking and establish a play style. The club have been busy building the squad from scratch. Two Designated Players have been signed, some big trades have been made and the club got two of the first three SuperDraft picks after trading DC for the third spot. Below we have highlighted the standout signings that we expect to make the biggest impact with LAFC in 2018.

Carlos Vela: LAFC brought in Vela from Real Sociedad as their first ever Designated Player. The Mexican star had been with Sociedad since 2011, where he scored over 50 goals in seven years for the La Liga side. Before that, he was with Arsenal, where he struggled to make a proper impact. But after 12 years in Europe, Vela has now made the move to LAFC, where he will be much closer to his friends and family. Reports in Spain suggested the transfer offer for Vela was around €5 million, and he will be expected to be the expansion franchise’s star man in 2018.

Walker Zimmerman: LAFC made a strong move to sign 24-year-old centre-back Zimmerman from FC Dallas in early December. The expansion franchise sent $500,000 in allocation money and the #1 allocation ranking to Dallas for the defender. He has played 89 regular season games over the past five seasons and knows the league well. He missed time last season with a knee injury but is back and ready to help LAFC make their make in their debut campaign. Laurent Ciman: Alongside Zimmerman will be veteran Belgium international defender Ciman. He arrived from Montreal after LAFC sent Expansion Draft picks Jukka Raitala and Raheem Edwards to the Canadian side. Ciman was apparently left shocked at the trade as he knew nothing about it until he was already an LAFC player. But the 2015 MLS Defender of the Year is now looking forward to working with Zimmerman to become the best central defence partnership in the league.

 

Diego Rossi: Rossi was signed as LAFC’s second Designated Player and is expected to play as an inverted winger in the left side of the attack. He is a highly regarded Uruguayan youngster who was brought in for a reported $4 million from Penarol of Uruguay’s Primera Division. At just 19, Rossi has a lot of potential and is the second youngest DP in MLS history, after Fabian Castillo who joined Dallas aged 18.

Benny Feilhaber: At 33, Feilhaber is unlikely to be able to offer what he did in 2015 when he was an MVP finalist. But he should still be a valuable and vital player for LAFC following his move from Sporting KC. The midfielder played 180 times for SKC, scoring 33 goals and picking up 56 assists. Lots Angeles FC sent $400,000 in allocation money for his services. He will likely end up playing as the team’s number 10, finding gaps in behind the opposition defence for the likes of Rossi and Vela to run into.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Sporting Kansas City vs Philadelphia Union

Competition: Major League Soccer – Sporting KC vs. Philadelphia Union
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park – Thursday, July 6 – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)
Match Odds: Sporting KC 4/7 – Draw 14/5 – Philadelphia 9/2

Preview

Sporting Kansas City welcome Philadelphia Union to Children’s Mercy Park for their lone meeting of the season on Thursday night. The hosts will look to go into the Gold Cup break with another victory to leave them clear at the top of the Western Conference.

SKC had to settle for a home draw with Portland on Saturday. Many will still feel that was a positive result given the key absentees on international duty.

Peter Vermes knows his team are in a strong position at the midway point of the campaign. He will fully expect his team to continue to set the pace at the top of the West for the remainder of the season.

Sporting Kansas City’s impressive home form makes them strong favourites for Thursday’s game. They haven’t lost at home in MLS for over a year. Defensively, they’ve only shipped four goals in nine games at Children’s Mercy Park this term.

Philadelphia arrive off the back of Saturday’s 3-0 win over New England. That victory put them back into a position to challenge for a playoff spot in the East.

However, they still have a lot to work on if they are to be playing postseason soccer this year. Inconsistency has prevented them from building any form, although things have been steadily building since May.

Jim Curtin would love to head back to Philly with at least a point from Thursday’s clash. They’ve only won one of their last eight away games in all competitions. But their record in Kansas City isn’t all that bad.

In eight trips to SKC, the Union have lost four, won two and drawn two. Impressively, they’ve scored on their last five visits, winning as many as they’ve lost in that time.

Team News

Sporting KC will once again be without key trio Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and Dom Dwyer. All three are with the USMNT for the Gold Cup. Roger Espinoza will miss out as a result of yellow card accumulation.

Maurice Edu, Fabian Herbers and Warren Creavalle all remain out for the Union. Brian Carroll and Richie Marquez are listed as doubts. Alejandro Bedoya is away with the USMNT, while Andre Blake is due to meet up with the Jamaica squad so John McCarthy will take over in goal.

Sporting Kansas City vs Philadelphia Union: Key Points

Sporting KC’s form: W/D/D/W/D

Philadelphia Union’s form: L/L/L/W/W

Key Stat: Sporting Kansas City are unbeaten at home in MLS for over 13 months. They have gone 18 league games without defeat, winning 13 of those games.

Key Player: Benny Feilhaber – The SKC midfielder made a speedy return from a potentially worrying ankle injury at the weekend. He will now look to lead the hosts to victory with so many key players away with the USMNT.

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Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 1-1 Philadelphia Union – Sporting KC would likely prove too strong for Philadelphia if they were at full strength. But the absences of Besler, Zusi and Dwyer significantly weaken them. The Union will fancy their chances of leaving with a point and that’s how we see it going. Score draw.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Sporting Kansas City vs Montreal Impact

Competition: Major League Soccer – Sporting Kansas City vs. Montreal Impact 
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park – Saturday, June 10 – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST)
Match Odds: Sporting Kansas City 1/2 – Draw 3/1 – Montreal Impact 5/1

Match Preview

It’s the international break, but there is still an important MLS match to be played at Children’s Mercy Park as Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City welcome Montreal Impact.

Sporting Kansas City are on fire at home, winning each of their last six on their own turf and drawing their only other home game this season. To add to an already impressive run, they have only conceded twice in those seven games.

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Montreal on the other hand have been less than impressive away from home, only mustering six points from a possible 18. Their one win coming most recently in a 1-0 win over the struggling DC United.

To add more insult, Montreal haven’t won away at SKC since June 2013. A record they will be desperate to end on Saturday night. However, with three wins from their last four, things are on the way up for the Canadian franchise as they look to shorten the gap to the playoff places in the East.

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With a host of big names missing this clash due to the international break, the playing field may be more level than usual and unlikely match winners may have to come to the fore as a result.

Team News

Sporting Kansas City are missing several key players for Montreal’s’ visit, with Diego Rubin and Kevin Ellis both out through injury. Matt Besler, Roger Espinoza, Tyler Pasher and Graham Zusi are away on international duty.

Montreal are missing Andres Romero and Matteo Mancosu through injury. Hernan Bernardello, Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla and Louis Beland-Goyette are all listed as doubtful. Patrice Bernier, Laurent Ciman, Maxime Crépeau, Blerim Dzemaili, Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Wandrille Lefevre and Ambroise Oyongo are all away on international duty, so Montreal’s squad depth will be tested.

Key Points

Sporting KC’s last five: D/W/L/L/W

Montreal Impact’s last five: L/W/L/W/W

Key Stat: Sporting Kansas City have won their last six matches at home.

Key Player: Benny Feilhaber – Midfield maestro Feilhaber is an integral part of this SKC team and will need to produce a stellar display as many key players are away on international duty. He will feel he should be away with the USMNT and so a strong response to yet another snub can be expected.

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Score Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 2-0 Montreal Impact – With a lot of players missing for both sides we expect a lot of fringe players to prove a few points but ultimately SKC seem to be too good at home to drop points against an inconsistent Montreal side.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Sporting Kansas City vs Houston Dynamo

Competition: Major League Soccer – Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo

Venue: Children’s Mercy Park – Friday, September 9 – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST)

Match Odds: Sporting KC 4/7 – Draw 14/5 – Houston 9/2

Match Preview

Sporting Kansas City welcome Western Conference rivals Houston Dynamo to Children’s Mercy Park on Friday night.

SKC are sitting comfortably above the red line in 5th, six points clear of 7th place and given their quality they should easily claim a playoff spot now.

Peter Vermes will make sure his side are focused as we head to the tail end of the season and he will not be expecting any slip ups.

Kansas City come into this one having lost 2-0 away to Philadelphia. They’ll be looking forward to getting back onto home soil, where they have picked up 18 points from the last 18 available.

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Houston Dynamo are sitting bottom of the West coming into this tie, ten points outside the playoff places, while it is still mathematically possible for them to make up the difference it would be astonishing to see.

Interim coach Wade Barrett will be looking to oversee a strong finish to the campaign and Houston certainly have the players to cause damage to their rivals.

The Dynamo won 2-0 in the earlier meeting between the sides this season at BBVA Compass Stadium, they’ll be itching to repeat that scoreline here.

MLS: New York Red Bulls vs. Houston Dynamo Bruin

Team News

Sporting Kansas City are expecting to be without six as Justin Mapp, Tim Melia, Chance Myers, Seth Sinovic, Nuno Coelho and Lawrence Olum are all out.

Houston Dynamo have five injury concerns ahead of this tie as Tyler Deric is out, while Will Bruin, DaMarcus Beasley, Agus and Andrew Wenger are all doubts.

Key Points

Sporting Kansas City’s last five: W/L/D/W/L

Houston Dynamo’s last five: L/D/W/D/L

Key Stat: Fortress – Sporting Kansas City have won their last six MLS home outings.

Key Player: Benny Feilhaber – SKC’s main man has netted 12 goals this season. His ability to both create and score will be a huge concern for the Houston backline.

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Score Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 2-1 Houston Dynamo – Sporting Kansas City to take all three points against a Houston Dynamo side who will come up just short. Many will predict an easy win for SKC considering Houston’s recent form but there is no such thing as an easy tie.

MLS Fantasy Focus: Make the most of the DGW ahead of Round 10

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

The headlines from Round 9 have all been about Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain’s mid-game row. Their exchange of words over a penalty that would have secured Kamara his hat trick – but was eventually taken by Higuain – is a story that has travelled around the world. It marred an incredible eight-goal game, but in this week’s Fantasy Focus, we promise to focus on the football being played, not the spats off the ball!

Round 9 Review 

The Good:

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The MAPFRE Stadium, home to Columbus Crew, undoubtedly provided us with the game of the weekend, where an incredible eight goals were scored in the 4-4 draw between the Crew and Montreal Impact. It had been a disappointing start to the season for Columbus, but two goals from both Kei Kamara ($11.1) and Federico Higuaín ($10.5) put Columbus 4-1 up with just over 30 minutes to play. Remarkably, the Impact came back from the dead to salvage a point thanks to Ignacio Piatti ($10.6), Didier Drogba ($11.8) and a last minute goal from Dominic Oduro ($7.6). We have once again entered the familiar territory of Piatti gaining the most points of any player this week – with an astounding 18! While Montreal may top the Eastern Conference, Colorado Rapids are the shock leaders of the Supporters’ Shield standings, following a 1-0 home victory against an equally impressive Real Salt Lake. Jermaine Jones ($8.2) netted the goal that was the difference between the two sides to earn his side three crucial points and further cement his place as one of the league’s top players even after his unceremonious exit from New England. Robbie Keane ($11.7) may have been sidelined with injuries for most of this campaign, but the Irishman netted a brace in the Galaxy’s fifth win of the campaign, picking up 13 points in his 59 minutes on the field. Furthermore, it couldn’t possibly be a good weekend without Seattle’s Jordan Morris ($8.3) getting a mention. The forward has now scored in four straight matches as Seattle won their fourth-straight home game against San Jose on Saturday.

The Bad:

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The only red card of the weekend was collected by Orlando’s Cristian Higuita ($6.7), who was sent off late on in his side’s 1-1 draw with New York Red Bulls. OCSC are now on a run of five games without a win and with star turns Kaka ($10.8) and Cyle Larin ($9.2) in their side – it is fair to expect more from the men in purple. Meanwhile, Dallas failed to score and lost for the third consecutive outing. It has to be worrying the Texans with forward Maximiliano Urruti ($8.5) needing to regain the form that got him three goals in the opening four MLS games. Portland Timbers’ winless away run continued after defeat at Vancouver, while Sporting Kansas City also suffered a defeat away to Houston Dynamo. SKC are now winless in six after winning four of their opening five. Designated Players Benny Feilhaber ($10.9) and Graham Zusi ($10.1) will be expected to produce their finest form in the coming weeks, starting with this week’s DGW.

Round 10 Preview

Double Gameweek Must-Haves:

Jermaine Jones ($8.2):

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The Rapids are in tremendous form and it was sparked by Jermaine Jones’ entrance to the team. Fresh from his contract dispute with the Revs and his six-match ban for making repeated physical contact with referee Mark Geiger, the fire is very much within Jones’ play. Thrust into a more attacking role, he’s playing as well as he ever has – even at the age of 34.

Andrew Wenger ($7.2):

Houston have finally returned to some sort of form with a win over SKC and Wenger was instrumental in achieving the victory. Fixtures against San Jose and Real Salt Lake aren’t easy – but they’re certainly not the most difficult cards to be dealt at this point in the season. I would be shocked if Wenger didn’t pick up 10 points across the two games this week. If you don’t fancy Wenger, teammate Alex ($6.1) is bound to pick up a solid number of points at a cheap price.

Fanendo Adi ($10.3):

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The pinpoint in the Timbers’ MLS Cup winning attack, Adi is in fine form and with Diego Valeri ($10.5) pulling the strings behind him, he looks set to keep firing in goal after goal. He may be whisked away for international duty with Nigeria in Round 12, but he will be back in a flash – unlike other forward options like Giles Barnes ($8.5) and Chris Wondolowski ($10.7), who will exiting the league for the Copa America Centenario.

Maynor Figueroa ($6.7):

This is a risky one. Dallas may’ve lost three on the trot, but the former Wigan defender has performed solidly throughout and is still garnering plenty of bonus points. If Dallas were to keep a clean sheet in either of their two home games this week against the Sounders or the Timbers, it would be a shame to miss out on almost certain double figures. It’s also hard to ignore that Dallas are the only side to play both their games at home this week and Figueroa represents a solid pick.

Which players will you transfer in for Round 10’s DGW?

STATS: Will Brad Davis be a success at Sporting Kansas City?

When the Houston Dynamo announced they had agreed to trade Brad Davis to Sporting Kansas City last week in return for two draft picks, it’s safe to say that plenty of eyebrows were raised.

Davis has spent the last ten seasons with the Dynamo, becoming the club’s all-time leader in games, starts and assists, so his departure will certainly leave a void.

He will undoubtedly strengthen Sporting Kansas City’s squad, even at the age of 34, and will hope to put his previous clashes with the SKC fanbase behind him as he prepares for his 14th consecutive campaign in the league.

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Getting the Sporting KC fans to sing his name will be one of Davis’ first challenges and he will only be able to do that with positive performances on the field.

The 17-time capped USMNT midfielder has registered 122 assists in MLS over the past 13 years – the third-highest total by any player in league history – and is now just 14 behind Landon Donovan’s all-time mark of 136.

He registered ten assists over the course of a mixed 2015 campaign with Houston, making double figures for the seventh time in ten years, and proved he still has a lot to offer in MLS.

Table: Brad Davis' MLS Regular Season statistics with the Houston Dynamo over the past five years (via MLSSoccer.com)

Table: Brad Davis’ MLS Regular Season statistics with the Houston Dynamo over the past five years (via MLSSoccer.com)

As the table above shows, Davis has been a consistently good performer over the past five years. He has scored four goals in four of his last five campaigns and has averaged more than 45 shots per season.

His position has changed over the past couple of years as his legs have lost a yard or two of pace, with Owen Coyle deploying him in an attacking midfield role instead of in his traditional spot out wide, but his production hasn’t dipped.

It will be intriguing to see how Peter Vermes uses him in Kansas City. Davis is unlikely to slot back into a winger role for 25+ games, while slotting in behind Dom Dwyer is also unlikely given Benny Feilhaber’s dominant 2015 campaign in that position.

Table: Benny Feilhaber and Brad Davis' 2015 MLS Regular Season Stats compared. (Stats via WhoScored.com)

Table: Benny Feilhaber and Brad Davis’ 2015 MLS Regular Season Stats compared. (Stats via WhoScored.com)

As a result of Feilhaber’s fine performances last term, Davis may face a battle to cement a regular starting place in Vermes’ side.

There is a chance that Davis will become a prestigious option off the bench for SKC, with his versatility in the final third a major plus for the 2013 MLS Cup winners, but it is difficult to envisage him being given anywhere near the amount of minutes he has received at Houston over the past decade.

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Regardless of how much of a chance he is given, Davis will strengthen SKC’s roster for the 2016 campaign and he brings wealths of MLS experience with him.

But being able to measure his success will depend on the number of starts he is given. Getting a first MLS Cup Playoff appearance for three years is something Davis will expect to get with a Sporting side that has made the postseason for five straight seasons, while a third ever MLS Cup title for Davis is definitely not out of reach.

Do you think Brad Davis will be a success with Sporting Kansas City? 

MLS Playoff Preview and Prediction: Portland Timbers vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: MLS Playoffs Knockout Round – Portland Timbers vs. Sporting Kansas City 

Venue: Providence Park – Thursday, October 29 – 22:00 ET (02:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Portland Timbers 5/6 – Draw  5/2 – Sporting Kansas City 100/30

Match Preview

Portland Timbers face Sporting Kansas City in the Western Conference knockout round on Thursday night in the final game from the opening round of MLS Cup Playoff games.

Separated by just two points in the regular season, Portland come into the game with the worrying stat that they haven’t scored in all three matches with SKC this season hanging over them.

Remarkably, Portland’s home form has been worse than their away form this year. So an away win for SKC is definitely not out of the question.

Portland Timbers’ 2015 MLS Record: P34 – W15 – D8 – L11

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

This will be just Portland’s second MLS Playoff campaign. They made it to the Western Conference finals in 2013 as Sporting Kansas City went on to lift the MLS Cup.

Sporting Kansas City managed to win the last meeting between the sides on October 4 so they have the advantage in that respect.

They come into this game off the back of a 2-1 win over LA Galaxy on Sunday and will hope that a poor second half of the season can be put behind them now they’ve made the playoffs.

Sporting Kansas City’s 2015 MLS Record in MLS: P34 – W14 – D9 – L11

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With just three wins from their last twelve, they are fortunate to have made the postseason and can be thankful for their very good start to the season.

These sides met three times during the regular season, with just one goal being scored over the 270 minutes as two 0-0 draws were followed by a 1-0 SKC win in Portland at the start of October.

Team News

Portland Timbers are without Ben Zemanski who is still recovering from an ACL injury, while Will Johnson is still a doubt with a leg injury.

Sporting Kansas City have four injury concerns. Ike Opara, Roger Espinoza, Seth Sinovic and Amadou Dia are all set to miss out as Peter Vermes may go with an unchanged team to the one that won on Sunday.

Key Points

Portland Timbers’ last five: W/L/W/W/W

Sporting Kansas City’s last five: D/W/L/L/W

Key Stat: Portland Timbers haven’t beaten Sporting KC in any of the last four games between the two sides. There has only been a total two goals in those matches.

Key Player: Benny Feilhaber – The USMNT midfielder has been the outstanding player in this SKC squad this season and if they are to progress he will need to play a huge part.

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Score Prediction

Portland Timbers 2-1 Sporting Kansas City – With the better form, Portland are favourites for this one. Although in a one-off playoff game, anything can happen. Sporting Kansas City will be in good spirits after Sunday’s win over the Galaxy but we’re edging more towards Portland than Kansas City here.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Sporting Kansas City vs Seattle Sounders

Competition: Major League Soccer – Sporting Kansas City vs. Seattle Sounders 

Venue: Sporting Park – Sunday, September 27 – 15:00 ET (20:00 BST)

Match Odds: Sporting Kansas City 13/10 – Draw 12/5 – Seattle Sounders 2/1

Match Preview

Saturday night sees fourth play fifth in the Western Conference as Sporting Kansas City host the Seattle Sounders at Sporting Park. Sporting KC come into the game in a dismal run of form with just one win in seven.

They have been imperious at home, however, managing to only lose once as they remain strong contenders for the MLS Cup, so long as they can hold on to their playoff spot.

It’s interesting to note that SKC boasted the best points-per-game record in MLS earlier in the season and looked to be on course for the Supporters’ Shield title this year.

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They may not be battling at the top end now with four weeks to go but a US Open Cup final is in store and they will be planning for a successful playoff run too.

Sporting Kansas City’s record in MLS: P29 – W12 – D8 – L9

Seattle have had a whirlwind season that has been hindered by injuries. Star men Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins are seemingly back to full fitness and ready for the playoffs now. Their absences have cost Seattle dearly but with them both in the side, the Sounders are a real force.

At one point it looked like the Sounders wouldn’t make the playoffs but they remain three points behind the Western Conference leading Vancouver Whitecaps and are putting some solid form together now.

They remain a strong outfit in MLS and should be a force to fear in the playoffs, providing their key men can stay fit.

Seattle Sounders’ record in MLS: P30 – W14 – D3 – L13 

Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers

Team News

Sporting Kansas City are still missing Ike Opara with a ruptured achilles tendon, while Roger Espinoza is also out with an ankle fracture. Amobi Okugo and Tim Melia are both doubtful.

Seattle Sounders are without three players through injury. Roman Torres, Andres Correa and Andy Craven are all set to play no part through respective injuries.

Key Points

Sporting Kansas City’s last five: L/D/L/W/L

Seattle Sounders’ last five: L/W/W/D/W

Key Stat: Seattle have failed to score in the two previous meetings between the two sides so far this year.

Key Player: Benny Feilhaber – Easily the most influential player on the pitch in terms of his vast experience and eye for goal this season. As well as ten goals, he also has ten assists. It’s been an impressive season for Feilhaber and we expect him to be key on Saturday.

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Score Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 1-1 Seattle Sounders – Should be an entertaining game providing a lot of attacking play as both sides tend to not be afraid to get forward. A low scoring draw is what we’ve gone for.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City

Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium – Wednesday, September 23 – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)

Match Odds: Houston Dynamo 7/5 – Draw 5/2 – Sporting Kansas City 9/5

Match Preview

Houston Dynamo face Sporting Kansas City in a midweek clash which should be worth a watch. The two sides are playing out their third and final regular season tie against each other in the Western Conference.

Dynamo come into this one off the back of their 2-0 loss away against Philadelphia Union, their second defeat on the bounce.

They sit ninth in the Western Conference, six points outside the playoff places, so there is still a chance for them to make the cut, but they would need to win all their remaining games to realistically stand any chance.

Houston drew the earlier meeting between the two at BBVA Compass Stadium but will be hoping to take all three points in this one.

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Sporting Kansas City are sitting comfortably in fifth on 44 points and could potentially top the Western Conference if they were to win both their games in hand, so they have a lot to play for.

They come into the tie off the back of their solid 3-1 home win against FC Dallas which was their first win in five outings and they will be hoping that poor run of form doesn’t cost them.

Both the previous meetings in the season between the sides have ended in a draw. The previously mentioned draw at BBVA Compass Stadium was the eight goal thriller, as the sides shared the points in that stunning 4-4 draw back in April.

SKC will fancy their chances of winning this one and they will take confidence from the fact that their opponents have three out of their last five home games.

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Team News

Houston Dynamo coach Owen Coyle has a few injury concerns. Jermaine Taylor remains out, while DeMarcus Beasley, Alex, Kofi Sarkodie and Luis Garrido are questionable. Raul Rodriguez is suspended following his accusation of yellow cards, while Ricardo Clark and Sheanon Williams are one away from suspension.

Sporting Kansas City are without Ike Opara and Roger Espinoza. Amobi Okugo and Tim Melia are doubts. Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber and Matt Besler and all one away from suspension.

Key Points

Houston Dynamo’s last five: D/L/W/L/L

Sporting Kansas City’s last five: L/L/D/L/W

Key Stat: Sporting Kansas City are unbeaten in ten of their last 11 games against Houston Dynamo in all competitions.

Key Player: Benny Feilhaber – The Sporting KC playmaker has netted ten goals in 27 appearances this season. He has been pivotal to his side, as he has created 61 chances and notched an astonishing ten assists too.

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Score Prediction

Houston Dynamo 1-2 Sporting Kansas City – SKC to take all three points in a tight tie and continue their solid run of performances against their opponents.