MLS Preview and Prediction: Montreal Impact vs Orlando City

Major League Soccer: Montreal Impact vs Orlando City

Stade Saputo – Saturday, August 5 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: Montreal 10/11 – Draw 5/2 – Orlando 14/5

Montreal Impact vs Orlando City: Preview

Montreal Impact host Orlando City in a key Eastern Conference battle on Saturday evening. Both sides come into the weekend outside the playoffs. But both know a win could fire them straight back into contention.

Montreal come into Week 22 in 10th place in the East. They are closer to DC in last place than they are to Columbus in 6th, highlighting how tough a year it’s been so far for the Canadian side.

The upside for the Impact right now is that they’ve played 20 games. That’s the fewest in the conference and means a win over Orlando on Saturday would leave them three points behind the Lions with two games in hand.

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But with just one with from their last four MLS outings, it’s tough to see where the Impact’s late season surge towards the playoffs is going to come from.

Orlando City are in a better position coming into the final three months of the season. They are just two points outside the playoffs coming into the weekend and have been boosted by the signing of Dom Dwyer from Sporting Kansas City.

Dwyer’s arrival has injected life back into the Lions’ season. The fans are optimistic and you’d expect them to kick on and make the playoffs for the first time this year. But they must find a way to win road games such as this one if they are to make it.

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Orlando are winless in their last three. They were desperately unlucky to concede away at Atlanta in stoppage time last weekend. That Hector Villalba goal stunned them but they must show character and respond with a win here.

With neither side in any kind of strong form, this is a really tough game to call. Both teams have potential match-winners at their disposal. And so this could come down to which stars shine brightest in what should be a hard-fought battle.

Montreal Impact vs Orlando City: Team News

Montreal Impact will still be without Ambroise Oyongo, while Victor Cabrera remains doubtful. New signing Samuel Piette should be in line to start after joining the club on Thursday.

Orlando City remain without Rafael Ramos. Kevin Alston is a doubt. Jason Kreis will likely start Dwyer alongside Larin once again as he tries to get the best out of two of Major League Soccer’s most talented strikers.

Montreal Impact vs Orlando City: Key Points

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

Orlando City’s last five: L/W/L/L/D

Key Stat: Differentials – Montreal Impact are five points worse off than they were at the same stage last season. Orlando City are four points better off than they were at the same point last year.

Key Player: Dom Dwyer – There’s no question that Dwyer will be at the centre of attention again here. The returning Orlando hero kept an incredible summer going with a goal for the MLS All-Stars against Real Madrid on Wednesday. He’ll be desperate to open his tally with the Lions in MLS. And you’d expect him to, given the fact the Impact have the East’s third-worst defensive record.

Montreal Impact vs Orlando City: Prediction

Montreal Impact 1-2 Orlando City – This is a really tough one the call. Both sides are in poor form. Both need a win to pick back up. But it’s unclear exactly where the magic spark is going to come from. Dwyer’s signing has left Orlando fans in a better mood than Montreal’s coming into the game. That could well be enough to separate the sides, as the visitors’ attack could be too much if they start to find form.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Sporting Kansas City vs DC United

Competition: Major League Soccer – Sporting Kansas City vs. DC United

Venue: Children’s Mercy Park – Friday, May 27 – 21:30 ET (02:30 BST)

Match Odds: Sporting KC 3/4 – Draw 5/2 – DC United 4/1

Match Preview

Sporting Kansas City welcome DC United to Children’s Mercy Park on Friday night as seventh in the West face off against seventh in the East.

Both sides have endured slow starts to the 2016 campaign and know that Friday night’s game offers a fantastic opportunity to take three points and start to climb their respective conferences.

Sporting KC have only won one of their last nine and are in real trouble. They fell 3-1 at home to Real Salt Lake last weekend and have now lost three of their last four.

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Peter Vermes and his players need to bounce back very quickly. The home fans will see Friday’s game as a winnable fixture and they will likely see nothing other than three points as success.

DC United have four less points than SKC at this stage but they have not lost back-to-back games all season and their biggest problem seems to be putting the ball in the net.

They lost 1-0 at Philadelphia last time out and have now failed to score in three of their last six. They have yet to win away from home and don’t look like a side ready to make a charge up the table.

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Both sides are really struggling but that should make for an entertaining game as neither can afford to take this game lightly.

This will be the 35th MLS meeting between the two established sides. DC are unbeaten in four-straight games against SKC and will hope to extend that run to five come the end of play on Friday.

Team News

Sporting KC will be without Roger Espinoza as he will serve a one-game suspension. Kevin Ellis remains out injured, while Seth Sinovic is a doubt and is unlikely to make the starting lineup.

DC will be without five players through injuries. Andrew Dykstra, Bill Hamid, Chris Korb, Collin Martin and Chris Rolfe are all sidelined and so Ben Olsen is without a couple of key men at a crucial time of the season.

Key Points

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

DC United’s last five: W/D/L/W/L

Key Stat: Road block – DC United are averaging just 0.55 goals per game away from home since the start of last season – the worst record in MLS.

Key Player: Dom Dwyer – Dwyer has scored two of SKC’s last three goals and looks to be the side’s only chance of success during this tough spell. If he is on form, the home side will likely leave with three points.

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Score Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 1-1 DC United – There is very little to choose between these out-of-form sides. Both are expected to go for all three points but with neither in good shape, they could well cancel each other out. A draw won’t really help either side, but that looks the most likely result.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Sporting Kansas City vs Colorado Rapids

Competition: Major League Soccer – Sporting Kansas City vs. Colorado Rapids

Venue: Sporting Park – Wednesday, April 13 – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)

Match Odds: Sporting KC 5/6 – Draw 12/5 – Colorado 7/2

Match Preview

Sporting Kansas City welcome Colorado Rapids to Sporting Park in an all-Western Conference clash on Wednesday evening. 

SKC are leading the way in the Supporters’ Shield standings after their impressive start to the season which has seen them lose just the once. They take on FC Dallas this coming weekend and will be hoping to continue their run of form by taking maximum points in this double gameweek.

Peter Vermes’ side come into this one off the back of their solid 2-0 away win over New York Red Bulls on Saturday and will be brimming with confidence. SKC have been solid at the back so far this season and opponents have struggled to breach their defence.

Last season’s meeting at Sporting Park saw Sporting Kansas City’s suffer their first home loss to Colorado since 2002, ending a 15-game unbeaten streak against the Rapids.

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Colorado have had a solid start to the 2016 regular season and are sitting sixth, in a playoff spot, in the Western Conference as a result.

Pablo Mastroeni’s side have won two, drawn one and lost two of their five fixtures so far. They come into this one off the back of their 1-0 loss away at Real Salt Lake last time out and will be hoping to bounce back immediately.

The Rapids won two of the three meetings between these sides last season, but as previously mentioned they have historically struggled away against SKC. If Mastroeni’s side can take a win from this game it will go a long way to showing Rapids fans they are capable of putting their away struggles against SKC to an end.

Colorado’s next fixture sees them take on New York Red Bulls at home. Rapids fans will be optimistic about taking two positive results out of this double gameweek and continue building towards a push for the playoffs.

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Team News

Sporting Kansas City could be without up to five players through injury. Justin Mapp, Matt Besler, Brad Davis and Soni Mustivar are all expected to miss out, while Paulo Nagamura is a doubt.

Colorado Rapids are also expecting to be without five through injury. Sean St.Ledger, John Berner, Kevin Doyle, Jared Watts and Marlon Hairston are all out. Jermaine Jones is serving the final game of his ban he picked up in last season’s playoffs and so his debut is not too far away.

Key Points

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

Colorado Rapids’ last five: L/W/D/W/L

Key Stat: Sporting Kansas City and Colorado Rapids have the joint best defensive records so far this season, with both sides only conceding three goals in their five outings respectively.

Key Player: Dom Dwyer – The SKC forward has got off a strong scoring start this campaign, with three in five. He netted in his side’s win last weekend and will be looking to cause the Rapids trouble in this midweek clash.

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Score Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 2-1 Colorado Rapids – Despite Colorado ending their winless run away against SKC they are likely to struggle here considering how strong the home side have been at the start of this season. As the saying goes, old habits die hard.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New York Red Bulls vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York Red Bulls vs. Sporting Kansas City 

Venue: Red Bull Arena – Saturday, April 9 – 19:00 EDT (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: New York Red Bulls 1/1 – Draw 5/2 – Sporting Kansas City 13/5

Match Preview

New York Red Bulls welcome Sporting Kansas City to Red Bull Arena on Saturday night with the hosts looking to end a sorry run of form which has seen them lose three of their first four matches of the new season.

They are yet to keep a clean sheet and all of their goals this season came in the 4-3 win over Houston Dynamo. Furthering their problems, Felipe will miss the game through suspension and star striker Bradley Wright-Phillips is yet to score this term.

However, the most worrying problems seem to be the lack of defensive options available as four first-team defenders are injured in some way and Karl Ouimette is the only fit central defender available to Jesse Marsch.

Jesse Marsch New York Red Bulls

Turning things around this weekend looks a tough ask for the Red Bulls, though the home support should give their chances a significant boost.

Sporting Kansas City on the other hand started the season with a 100% record until the 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake last weekend.

They have so far scored in every game and have quickly set themselves a good platform for success this season.

Their early-season form will need to carry on if SKC are to challenge at the top end of the Western Conference and they will fancy their chances of beating an injury-plagued Red Bulls team here.

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They have a huge upcoming month with three of their next four fixtures away from home. So this clash is the start of a tough run for the Kansas City squad.

These sides met just once last term, playing out a 1-1 draw in Kansas City. The Red Bulls won the most recent meeting at Red Bull Arena in the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs, before SKC were transferred back over to the Western Conference.

Team News

New York Red Bulls will be without three first team defenders as their defensive crisis continues to cause Jesse Marsch serious selection problems. Damien Perrinelle, Gideon Baah and Ronald Zubar are all still out, while Kemar Lawrence is a doubt with a knee injury picked up last week. Gonzalo Veron is also out and Felipe is suspended after being sent off against New England Revolution.

Sporting Kansas City are missing Justin Mapp and defensive star Matt Besler. Paulo Nagamura is a doubt with a calf strain.

Key Points

New York Red Bulls’ form: L/L/W/L

Sporting Kansas City’s form: W/W/W/L

Key Stat: Including postseason meetings, SKC have failed to beat the Red Bulls on the last six occasions. The Red Bulls have won four of those last six meetings.

Key Player: Dom Dwyer – English-born striker Dwyer is the lone attacker in SKC’s current system and the impressive start to the season has shown signs that he will have plenty of service this year. It’s only a matter of time before they start flying in regularly for Dwyer and he will be a threat here.

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Score Prediction

New York Red Bulls 2-2 Sporting Kansas City – After a good start from SKC and a poor start from Red Bulls, this clash is hard to call. We are expecting goals and quite an even battle. However, the Red Bulls’ defensive options are limited and SKC will set out to earn three points. A score draw looks likely, though this really could go either way.

13 lesser-known Englishmen to watch in MLS in 2016

By Jamie Dawe 

Over the past year, three legends of English football by the names of Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have decided to start to wind down their careers in California and New York respectively. Fellow Premier League stalwarts of old, such as Liam Ridgewell and Shaun Wright-Phillips have also made their moves to MLS in recent time. Most Premier League fans will be fully aware of these well-known and well publicised moves to the States, but many other Englishman have sailed across the Atlantic completely unnoticed. It’s about time that some of these players get the recognition they deserve. These players all have their own interesting stories to tell – one played for a national team that they were ineligible for, one broke the MLS record for the most goals in a season and one even won the FA Youth Cup in 2013!

So read on to find out some of the other English names you should be looking out for in 2016 and beyond…

Norwich’s Neymar – Dom Dwyer

Current Club: Sporting Kansas City

Joined MLS: 2012

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A youth career with Norwich City ended when he was told he would never physically recover enough from his third foot break to play professional football. He was subsequently spotted by US college scouts and given a full scholarship at Tyler Junior College in Texas. He moved to the University of South Florida in 2011 and was picked at No. 16 in the 2012 SuperDraft by SKC – where he has been ever since. A total of 61 goals in 103 career games – including 36 in MLS for SKC – shows his incredible striking ability. At 5ft 9ins he relies on power and speed to blast past his opponents rather than being a traditional No. 9. He created a formidable partnership with former Liverpool player Krisztian Nemeth last season but will need to lead the attack more independently in 2016 – something he should be capable of doing effectively.

The Former U21 Star – Jordan Stewart

Current Club: San Jose Earthquakes

Joined MLS: 2013

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The 34-year-old left-back has been in California ever since he left Coventry City in 2013. He has led a successful career, playing in the Premier League for Watford and Leicester as well as recording Championship and League 1 appearances with Bristol Rovers, Derby County, Sheffield United and Notts County. He also enjoyed a lone season at Greek Superleague side Skoda Xanthi. During his six seasons in the first team at Leicester, he achieved an appearance with the England U21 squad as well as four with the U18 group. He will be hoping for another solid campaign in San Jose this year.

The Other Brother – Bradley Wright-Phillips

Current Club: New York Red Bulls

Joined MLS: 2013

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Bradley Wright-Phillips joined MLS a full two years before his older brother Shaun. In his career leading up to the move stateside he played for Manchester City, Southampton, Charlton, Brentford and the side that I have devoted my life to, Plymouth Argyle. A grand total of 131 career goals with 51 for the Red Bulls (an MLS record-setting 27 goals in a single season included in that) prove that BWP is a true goalscorer and he has thrived since joining the league in 2013.

The Non-League Struggler – Luke Mulholland

Current Club: Real Salt Lake

Joined MLS: 2014

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Mullholland started his career with non-league side Lancaster City, who were on the verge of bankruptcy at the time. He managed to escape to college soccer in 2007 and made his professional debut in 2010 for the Wilmington Hammerheads in the USL. After a failed trial with New England Revolution in 2011, it took Mulholland three more years to fulfill his ambition of playing in MLS when he signed for RSL in 2014. He has become a key part of the team since and will hope to be an important player in 2016.

The Sunshine State Boys – Luke Boden, Seb Hines and Harrison Heath

Current Club: Orlando City SC

Joined MLS: 2015

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All three of these players were part of Orlando City’s inaugural season last term, however, they all took significantly different paths to reach the club. Luke Boden joined Orlando in 2011 when they were a USL side, after being released from his boyhood club Sheffield Wednesday. Since then, he has been an integral part of the OCSC set up and has played 112 games for the team in the two different divisions. Seb Hines moved to MLS from Middlesbrough, initially on loan a year ago, but made the deal permanent when his contract at the Riverside expired in July. Harrison Heath is the 19-year-old son of Lions boss Adrian Heath and was part of the FA Youth Cup winning Norwich City side in 2013, before moving to the US to link up with his father. Both Boden and Heath have US Green Cards – meaning they are seen as domestic players on MLS rosters.

The Accidental Jamaican – Tyrone Mears

Current Club: Seattle Sounders

Joined MLS: 2015

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At the peak of his career, former Bolton, Derby, Burnley and Marseille player Tyrone Mears was rumoured to be on the brink of an England call-up. However, an appearance for the Jamaican national side in 2009 meant he was committed to play for Jamaica until the end of time (except he was never eligible to play for Jamaica as he thought his estranged father was Jamaican, even though he turned out to be from Sierra Leone). Fast forward to 2016 and Mears is entering his second season with the Sounders as their starting right-back after coming off of a 28-appearance debut campaign last year. He will hope to help Seattle to success this year and beyond.

The New SuperDraft Signings – Jack Harrison, Ben Polk & Paul Clowes

Current Clubs: NYCFC, Portland Timbers and DC United

Joined MLS: 2016

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All three of these players were picked within the first two rounds of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft – at No. 1, 20 and 32 respectively. Harrison (pictured at top of article) spent his youth career with the Manchester United academy, whereas Clowes spent his youth career on the blue side of the city. Ben Polk has a British mother and lived in the UK between the ages of 10-19, training with Oxford United’s youth sides and playing for Banbury United in the seventh tier of English football at age 17. Now all three will hope to make a splash in MLS as they start their professional careers.

The Portuguese Shot-Stopper – Matt Jones

Current Club: Philadelphia Union

Joined MLS: 2016

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Stoke-on-Trent-born Matt Jones is only on loan to the Union from Portuguese side Belenenses, but he is British through and through. His youth career consisted of appearances for the youth sides of Port Vale and West Bromwich Albion, which lasted until he decided to play college soccer for Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. He spent one season in the fourth tier of US Soccer, after which he moved to Portugal to play for Second Division side Santa Clara. Since then, he has ventured around Portugal, playing for Madeira, Belenenses and Tondela as well as recording 29 league appearances for Santa Clara. At 6ft 3ins and at age 29, he has the command and experience of a true leader in goal and will hope for an opportunity to prove his worth in Philadelphia this year.

The Liverpudlian Lionel Messi – Rob Vincent

Current Club: DC United

Joined MLS: 2016

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After spending his formative years with Everton, Crewe Alexandra and Stockport County, Vincent took the opportunity to play college soccer in the States for the University of Charleston. After college, he moved to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the USL and has excelled over the past three seasons, finally being signed by DC United this winter. He plays in an attacking midfielder role and at 5ft 9ins and with 24 goals in 78 games – the only fair comparison is (obviously?!) to Lionel Messi! He is the most recent addition to this exclusive group of English stars plying their trade in the MLS and could make an impression with DC in 2016.

This group of English players make up the national contingent that are performing in the top divison of soccer in the US. However, there are many other English players in the leagues below MLS that are striving to reach the top.

Below is my MLS dream team of English-born players currently in MLS. Is there anyone you think deserved to be in this side that isn’t?

My best XI of Englishman playing in MLS in 2016. Via Lineupbuilder.com

My best XI of Englishman playing in MLS in 2016. Via Lineupbuilder.com

2016 MLS Season Preview: Sporting Kansas City

As the 2016 MLS season edges closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what Sporting Kansas City will be looking to achieve this season.

The 2015 season wasn’t the greatest for Sporting Kansas City. Despite finishing in a playoff place, they will feel disappointed that their season ended in the knockout round as they were knocked out by eventual MLS Cup winners Portland Timbers on penalties. They were flying along at the midpoint of the regular season and looked set to challenge for the Supporters’ Shield. But a distinctly average run through the latter stages cost them as they finished with two losses from their last three. They did manage to lift the 2015 US Open Cup and will be proud of that success but Sporting KC will expect to achieve more in MLS in 2016. We’re honestly not sure what SKC will bring this season but the loss of Krisztian Nemeth is sure to affect them upfront.

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Last season’s finish:

Western Conference – Position: 6th – P34 – W14 – D9 – L11

What needs to change this year?

Their first eleven shouldn’t change too drastically this year, which could benefit them massively over the course of the season. The addition of Brad Davis will help add valuable experience to the squad and will help them in clutch situations, though the loss of Nemeth is a blow. In terms of things that need addressing, their discipline has to improve. SKC picked up 71 yellow cards and nine red cards last term, making them the most ‘aggressive’ team in MLS. It’s also worth a mention that their away form will need to improve. With only four wins from their 17 road trips last term, they will need to pick up more points away from Sporting Park if they are to improve on last year’s finish. We will say, however, the limited changes to the first team should pay dividends and SKC fans should be optimistic for the coming season.

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Key changes to squad: 

Ins: Lawrence Olum – Defender, Alec Kann – Goalkeeper, Justin Mapp – Midfielder, Brad Davis – Midfielder, Daniel Salloi – Forward & Nuno Andre Coelho – Defender

Outs: Jalil Anibaba – Defender, Mikey Lopez – Midfielder, Krisztian Nemeth – Forward, Erik Palmer-Brown  Defender, Bernardo Anor Midfielder & Amobi Okugo  Midfielder

Key Player:

Dom Dwyer – Forward – English striker Dom Dwyer had, by his high standards, an average year in 2015, only scoring 12, which is a half-decent return. However, Dwyer managed 22 goals in 2014 so a drop by ten goals over a season will have disappointed the pacey forward. Being the senior striker now for SKC may take some getting used to and the previously mentioned loss of Krisztian Nemeth will only add to the reliance on Dwyer to score goals. This is a team that needs to be in the playoffs and Dwyer has a huge part to play once again this season.

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One to Watch: 

Daniel Salloi – Forward – Salloi moved to the US in 2014 as an exchange student and joined SKC’s Under-18 squad, scoring 21 goals in 28 games. The 19-year-old forward knows how to score frequently, the question is will he see enough minutes to prove his worth in MLS this year. He is SKC’s first Homegrown Player in nearly three years and has previously spent time in Hungary’s first division on an amateur contract with Ujpest FC. He has potential to be crucial but is unproven at this level. Time will tell how he fairs but he is an exciting prospect.

Predicted Finish:

Western Conference – 7th – The decline of Sporting Kansas City over the course of 2015 should not go unnoticed. They only won three of their last 12 games and might struggle as they enter 2016, with the loss of Nemeth a really significant one. If no replacement is brought in, SKC are likely to struggle to score enough and that could cost them a playoff spot. They just edged into the postseason last term but don’t look like they have improved enough to do any better this season and so a tough year could be in store.

What are you expecting from Sporting Kansas City in 2016?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Sporting Kansas City vs. Colorado Rapids

Competition: Major League Soccer – Sporting Kansas City vs. Colorado Rapids

Venue: Sporting Park – Wednesday, October 21 – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)

Match Odds: Sporting KC 8/15 – Draw 11/4 – Colorado Rapids 9/2

Match Preview

Sporting Kansas City host Colorado Rapids in their penultimate regular season fixtures on Wednesday night, with the home side looking to seal their spot in the MLS Playoffs.

This is a game that should have been played back in May but bad weather meant the match was postponed. Now Sporting Kansas City will look to use this fixture to seal a top six finish.

Sporting KC were excellent during the early months of the season but the US Open Cup winners have now only won one of their last four. That’s not great form at this time of year and they will need to improve their form quickly if they are to get near the 2015 MLS Cup.

Sporting Kansas City’s 2015 record: P32 – W13 – D9 – L10

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Three points on Wednesday night will seal a playoff berth and will make Sunday slightly less daunting for the 2013 MLS Cup winners.

Colorado will be looking to spoil the party in Kansas City. They have nothing but pride to play for now after missing out on the playoffs for a second straight season.

A run of four straight defeats sums up their problems this season. They never got going and have ultimately paid the price in a highly competitive Western Conference.

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Colorado Rapids’ 2015 record: P32 – W8 – D10 – L14

This will be the third regular season meeting between these two this term. The home side has won both of the previous two, with SKC winning 2-0 in June before Colorado won 2-1 in August – the Rapids haven’t won since.

Team News

Sporting KC will still be without Ike Opara and Roger Espinoza for Wednesday’s game but they are the only absentees as a strong lineup will take to the field for their final home game of the regular season.

Colorado Rapids have just one concern as Michael Harrington remains sidelined with a foot injury.

Key Points

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

Colorado Rapids’ last five: D/L/L/L/L

Key Stat: The home side has scored exactly two goals in each of the last seven meetings between these two sides, losing just once.

Key Player: Dom Dwyer – The English forward has not had as good a season as he did last year but he has scored in his last two home games and will look to fire Sporting KC into the playoffs in Wednesday’s clash.

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Score Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 2-1 Colorado Rapids – Sporting Kansas City have had a mixed season. They looked unstoppable during the earlier parts of the campaign but have not been as solid recently. However, a home win on Wednesday will fire them into the postseason – something the crowd should be able to witness.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Sporting Kansas City vs FC Dallas

Competition: Major League Soccer – Sporting Kansas City vs. FC Dallas

Venue: Sporting Park – Friday, September 18 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Sporting KC 5/4 – Draw 5/2 – Dallas 2/1

Match Preview

Sporting Kansas City host FC Dallas in a crucial Western Conference clash on Friday night with both sides looking to take a huge stride towards sealing an MLS Playoff place.

Sporting KC come into the game in abysmal form, despite looking so strong through most of the season. They are without a win in six and have lost four in their last five league outings.

It must be noted that they have played four-straight road games, however, and so an improved showing is expected when they return to home comforts on Friday. They fell 3-1 to Orlando City last weekend and will need to up their efforts.

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Their last league game at Sporting Park saw the team collapse to a shocking 5-0 defeat at the hands of San Jose and supporters will be desperately hoping a repeat performance to that night is not seen again.

Sporting Kansas City’s MLS record: P27 – W11 – D8 – L8

FC Dallas travel to Kansas City just one point behind Supporters’ Shield leaders Vancouver Whitecaps and have won their last three on the bounce, so spirits will be high in their camp.

A 2-1 home win over NYCFC last week saw them pick up three more points and a playoff spot looks to be all but guaranteed. A win in this one would seem them move to the top of the standings for 24 hours at least and that could act as enough motivation to see Dallas win a fourth game on the bounce.

FC Dallas’ MLS record: P27 – W14 – D5 – L8

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SKC are hanging on to fifth place in the Western Conference, but have seventh-placed San Jose just one point behind with just a few weeks of the regular season left to play.

This will be the fourth meeting between the two sides this season. The last clash saw SKC beat Dallas 6-2 at Sporting Park in the US Open Cup, while a 4-0 home win came before that in the league. Dallas won the game at Toyota Stadium 3-1.

Team News

Sporting Kansas City are still without Ike Opara and Roger Espinoza, while Amobi Okugo and Chance Myers remain doubts for this one.

FC Dallas have three concerns as Mauro Diaz, Dan Kennedy and Bakary Soumare are all doubtful.

Key Points

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

FC Dallas’ last five: L/L/W/W/W

Key Stat: There have been 16 goals in the three total games between the two sides so far this season in MLS and the US Open Cup combined. Feast.

Key Player: Dom Dwyer – The English forward always seems to perform better at Sporting Park and will look to spearhead the attack in fine style on Friday night, with SKC desperate for three points.

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Score Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 2-2 FC Dallas – Tough to see Sporting winning, despite returning home for the first time in three weeks. Dallas look very strong at the moment and should earn at least a point in what is a huge game for both clubs.

Sporting Kansas City rally back to beat Whitecaps in thrilling seven-goal contest

By Jason Kurylo of ‘Pucked In The Head

Sporting Kansas City scored twice in the final ten minutes and once more in stoppage time to defeat the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps 4-3 in a thrilling Western Conference matchup on Saturday night. Sporting KC remains undefeated on home soil this season, and now climbs into fourth place in the Supporters’ Shield standings, just two behind Vancouver.

As late as the 81st minute, it looked as if their remarkable 7-0-4 home record would receive its first black mark, as the visitors held a 3-1 lead on a brace from speedster Kekuta Manneh and a wonderful free kick from 30 yards out by captain Pedro Morales.

Manneh’s goals were textbook counters. The first saw him turnover the ball just inside his own half, then run straight at the KC defence for fifty yards before left-footing it past ‘keeper Tim Melia. The second involved a similar turnover by Steven Beitashour, who scooted up the right flank and delivered a delicious cross to Manneh in the six-yard box. As for Morales, he came on in the 65th minute and doled out a handful of wonderful passes before hitting that free kick with medical precision.

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For a five-minute stretch after the Argentine’s highlight strike, Kansas City looked absolutely defeated. They had held the edge in play most of the night, but they were down by two, and that had been the game plan for the Whitecaps. The visitors were content to bide their time, let Sporting KC run at them, and look for counterstrike opportunities. It’s a strategy that has garnered them the best road record in MLS this season, and on this day it worked for most of the match.

But then Sporting Kansas City decided to set a record by coming back from two goals down in the 80th minute to win for the first time in club history. They become just the second ever MLS side to do so after DC United did back in 2003.

Krisztian Nemeth launched a perfect cross that found Dom Dwyer all alone in the box. He headed the ball past David Ousted, no mistake. Six minutes later, Chance Myers found Paulo Nagamura with room at the lip of the 18-yard box — he pounded a low one-timer into the far corner, and it was a tie game to the delight of the home crowd.

Queue the dramatic come-from-behind music; the Brazilian wasn’t finished. Deep into stoppage time, Soni Mustivar put a long cross toward the Vancouver goal, and Nagamura scored his second in a matter of minutes to lift the roof off Sporting Park.

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After the match, Vancouver coach Carl Robinson was livid with referee Juan Guzman. In particular, he cited a collision that happened with about 20 minutes left in the match, when it was still 3-1 for the visitors. Pa Madou Kah and Dom Dwyer ran into each other away from the ball, and each was attended by team medical staff. Both teams had already used their three substitutions, however, so they both stayed on the pitch. Dwyer would score one of his team’s late goals. Robinson ranted post-game that his defender had suffered a broken jaw on that play, contributing to a significant drop in performance and, in turn, the Kansas City comeback.

On a positive note for the losers, Vancouver has set aside worries that they can’t score. They’ve netted 14 goals in the past four league matches, and suddenly boast the second-best offence in the Western Conference. Worrying, however, is the fact that, including the Canadian Championship game against the Montreal Impact last week, the Whitecaps have squandered three two-goal leads in two games.

As for Sporting Kansas City, they’re now unbeaten in three and boast the best points-per-game record in Major League Soccer.

Sporting KC’s next match is on Wednesday, August 19, when they host the woeful San Jose Earthquakes. Vancouver hopes to get back in the win column when FC Dallas visits on Saturday, August 22.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Real Salt Lake vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City

Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium – Friday, July 24 – 23:00 ET (Saturday, July 25 – 04:00 BST)

Match Odds: Real Salt Lake 13/8 – Draw 11/5 – Sporting Kansas City 6/4

Match Preview

Real Salt Lake entertain Sporting Kansas City in a Western Conference clash which should be full of action.

Salt Lake are undefeated in their last eight regular season home games and will feel this gives them a great chance in this one.

RSL come into this one off the back of their 2-0 home win against Houston Dynamo, which was their first win four outings.

Jeff Cassar’s side came out on top with a 2-1 win in the clash between the sides earlier in the season.

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Sporting Kansas City have been in great form recently, having lost just once in their last 11 outings. They come into the game after their 2-1 win over Montreal Impact, which was their third win on the bounce.

Peter Vermes will be pleased with his side as they sit in fourth place in the Western Conference, just two points behind leaders FC Dallas. If they can continue their recent run of form they will have a great chance of securing top spot, but this will not be a straight forward tie.

SKC will be aware that RSL will put them under pressure and given how tight the Western Conference is, neither side can afford to lose this one. They are separated by seven points but with RSL sitting outside the playoff places, they will make this a difficult game as they look to pile pressure on the sides above them.

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Team News

Real Salt Lake have three injury concerns. Jamison Olave is out while Jordan Allen and Luis Silva are doubtful for this tie. Luke Mulholland is one booking away from suspension.

Sporting Kansas City will be without Ike Opara. Jalil Anibaba, Bernardo Anor and Seth Sinovic are doubts. Dom Dwyer is one caution away from a suspension.

Key Points

Real Salt Lake last five in MLS: L/D/D/L/W

Sporting Kansas City’s last five in MLS: W/L/W/W/W

Key Stat: Sporting Kansas City have won five of their last six regular season games.

Key Player: Benny Feilhaber – The playmaker has netted six goals so far this season and we can expect his creativity to cause RSL problems.

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Score Prediction

Real Salt Lake 1-2 Sporting Kansas City – Sporting Kansas City to put an end to Real Salt Lakes home form.