In Pictures: Timbers, SKC play out goalless draw in first leg of Western Conference Championship

Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City are as they were coming into Sunday’s Western Conference Championship series. They battled to a 0-0 draw in the first-leg at Providence Park, meaning there’s all to play for in what should be a thrilling second-leg on Thursday.

Portland had the best chances on the night, hitting the post and seeing a goal ruled out for offside following a VAR decision. They were also denied by Tim Melia time and time again, with the SKC goalkeeper making six saves on the night.

Sporting KC had a couple of chances of their own, mostly breaking on the counter wherever possible. Johnny Russell had a good sight of goal just after half-time. While Daniel Salloi had a great chance to win it in stoppage time, only for Liam Ridgewell to put his body on the line to block.

Check out exclusive photos from Sunday’s first leg below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer, Denise McCooey.

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Dempsey says farewell as Sounders get big win over Sporting KC

Clint Dempsey was barely off the field after his retirement ceremony when Sporting Kansas City took the lead at CenturyLink Field but Seattle Sounders FC would come back to score three unanswered to make it eightstraight wins, the most in a single season in the post-shootout era.

Sporting capitalised on Seattle’s inability to clear their box as Diego Rubio scored in just the second minute of the match. Brad Smith tried to clear the ball but was just beat to it by Gerso Fernandes and the bouncing ball sat up perfectly for Rubio who smashed it into the bottom left corner.

Smith would make up for missing the clearance just ten minutes later as Sounders equalized in impressive fashion thanks to a perfect cross from Smith that found Raul Ruidiaz for the easiest of tap-ins from just a few feet out.

 

It was a sloppy first ten minutes for Sounders and while the equalizer did help to tighten up their passing, Kansas City continued to get dangerous looks at goal and forced Seattle to scramble defensively multiple times in the first half.

While Seattle has struggled mightily at times this season, they have consistently done well in defense when forced to scramble.

The first half came close to having some added intrigue as Nico Lodeiro was brought down just outside of the box in stoppage time by Ike Opara and was shouting for a straight red for denying him and obvious goal scoring opportunity after intercepting a pass. While he looked to be in on goal alone at the time, referee Baldomero Toledo decided that centre-back Matt Besler was close enough for it to not be worthy of a straight red and issued a yellow card instead.

Ruidiaz stepped up to take the free kick but hit it poorly right at the wall for the final play of the first half.

While it’s safe to say the first half was less than impressive from Seattle, the second half was a near complete change of form for Sounders as they swarmed Sporting and took the lead in the 52nd minute and would double it in the 56th.

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First was a stroke of good fortune for the Rave Green as Harry Shipp’s cross from inside the box banked off of the back of Graham Zusi and over the fingertips of Tim Melia making it three straight matches that Seattle has been the beneficiary of an own goal.

Then minutes later a cross from Smith hit the arm of Opara inside the box prompting Toledo to award the penalty kick. Lodeiro stepped up to the spot and froze Melia with his shot to put Seattle up 3-1.

Now down two goals with more than 30 minutes to play, Kansas City began to fight their way back into the match, owning the possession stats for the rest of the match as Sounders began playing more defensively.

Seattle was looking like they would defend fairly comfortably for the rest of the match until an 81st minute red card to Chad Marshall was issued after going to VAR.

Even with the man advantage though Sporting failed to break down the stalwart Seattle defense and it would ultimately be the Sounders match to win as they eclipsed Kansas City’s 2012 winning streak of seven matches. They still have one match to go though before they’ll match the nine straight won by Sporting over two seasons, 2012-2013, and will have to do so on the road against Vancouver where a win or draw will clinch the Cascadia Cup for Seattle.

Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew

Children’s Mercy Park – Sunday, May 27th 2018 – 18:00 ET (23:00 BST)

UK TV Coverage – Live on Sky Sports Football

Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew: Preview

Sporting Kansas City welcome Columbus Crew to Children’s Mercy Park in Sunday’s lone MLS fixture. They are both in great form and so both will be looking to mark their superiority with another three points here.

The hosts come into the weekend at the top of the Western Conference. They will stay their regardless of results this weekend but will be hoping to add another three points to their tally of 24 points from 12 games.

Peter Vermes’ men have lost just one of their last 11 games and are unbeaten in three coming into Sunday’s contest. They are a really tough outfit to break down at home and so the Crew have their work cut out if they are to take points back to Columbus.

However, the visitors couldn’t arrive in much better confidence. They have rolled off three-straight wins and sit just one point behind Atlanta United at the top of the East heading into the weekend’s fixtures.

The Crew haven’t conceded a goal in any of their last four games and are currently unbeaten in six. They will be looking to frustrate SKC on Sunday, before hitting them on the break whenever possible. New York City FC executed that strategy to perfection on the opening weekend and remain the only side to have won in Kansas City this season.

The worry for Columbus is that they have now managed to take anything away from Sporting KC since 2012. They’ve lost each of their last four MLS games at SKC, conceding 11 goals in the process. Their lone meeting last season ended in a 1-1 draw at MAPFRE Stadium.

Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew: Team News

Sporting KC

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Jimmy Medranda (undisclosed injury).

🚑 Out: Felipe Gutierrez (sports hernia surgery), Colton Storm (ankle sprain).

Columbus Crew

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: None.

🚑 Out: Pedro Santos (right thigh injury).

Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew: Key Stats

Sporting KC’s MLS form: W/L/W/W/D

Columbus Crew’s MLS form: W/D/W/W/W

Key stat: There has never been a 0-0 draw between these sides in 20 years of clashes. Their last five meetings have had an average of 3.8 goals per game.

Sporting Kansas City vs Columbus Crew: Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 1-1 Columbus Crew: This is a really tricky one to call. Sporting Kansas City are in good form and are a real force at home. They sit top of the West for a reason and will be relishing the challenge of an in-form Crew side. But the form Columbus are in means it’s hard to see them losing. They have been solid defensively and should create problems for Sporting KC here. Score draw.

Sounders get first point and first goals in 2-2 draw at Sporting Kansas City

Seattle Sounders (0-3-1, 1 pt) registered their first point and goals of the 2018 campaign on Sunday in a 2-2 draw with Sporting Kansas City (4-1-2, 14 pts) at Children’s Mercy Park. A late first-half equaliser from Will Bruin gave Seattle their first goal of the year and Cristian Roldan would give the visitors their first lead of the MLS season. Graham Zusi would bring the home side back level just five minutes later though and neither side would manage another breakthrough.

It was somewhat of a surprise to see Alex Roldan in the starting lineup just in front of Jordan McCrary but the rookie midfielder looked very good against the Western Conference leaders. The younger Roldan looked confident on the ball and helped to setup the attack that lead to Seattle’s second goal. Hopefully for Seattle this is not just a flash in the pan but a sign of things to come for the Seattle University alum.

Sounders fans were also treated to the return of Osvaldo Alonso from injury, coming on as a substitute in the 68th minute. With Alonso on the field for Handwalla Bwana, coach Brian Schmetzer pushed Cristian Roldan into an attacking position and brought Nicolas Lodeiro out wide which allowed Roldan to play more aggressively and ultimately lead to scoring the second goal. With Alonso on the field Seattle’s midfield looked more disciplined and structured defensively, something that was badly missing in their home loss to Montreal.

It was not such a great night for Nouhou who seemed to be a step slow all night, directly leading to both Sporting goals. The first goal came from a penalty kick conceded by a poor challenge from Nouhou while the second was due to him not getting back to stop Zusi.

The play starts with Nouhou making a long attacking run into space before hitting an ill-advised high shot from about 25 yards out. As Sporting restarted play, Nouhou doesn’t get back into position in time and leaves Zusi open on the wing. Even once Zusi receives the pass and is dribbling into the box, Nouhou doesn’t get back to mark his man and allows Zusi to walk in one-on-one against Frei and tie the match.

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Sporting controlled possession for the majority of the match and forced Stefan Frei into making six saves compared to Tim Melia’s one but made defensive mistakes to let Seattle on the board against the run of play. While Seattle does well to keep the play alive after Bruin’s first chance clanked off the crossbar, Jimmy Medranda gets caught watching the ball on the second chance and allows Bruin to score on a tap in.

Although Seattle was unable to hold on to the lead, the second goal showed the Sounders’ potential in attack. Alex Roldan out plays Zusi on a long clearance to get to the ball and then makes a perfectly weighted outside-of-the-foot pass around a defender to Bruin. With a defender on him, Bruin has the wherewithal to pull the ball back and find Christian Roldan at the top of the box for a shot. Roldan is able to hit the ball with power while also placing it in the far corner, past the stretching arm of Melia.

Seattle is going to want to see more possessions like this next weekend when they host Minnesota United FC (2-4-0, 6 pts) on Sunday at 1 PM as they look to record their first win of the season.

Sporting Kansas City vs Seattle Sounders | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Sporting Kansas City vs Seattle Sounders

Children’s Mercy Park – Sunday, April 15 2018 – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST)

UK TV Coverage: Live on Sky Sports Football

Sporting Kansas City vs Seattle Sounders: Preview

Sporting Kansas City take on winless and goalless Seattle Sounders on Sunday afternoon, with the home side looking to stretch their unbeaten run to six.

The hosts have bounced back from an opening weekend home defeat by going unbeaten through the last five. They seem to have fixed their early defensive problems too, keeping a clean-sheet in back-to-back games coming into Week 7.

Tim Melia made a club-record 10 saves in last week’s 2-0 win at LA Galaxy to keep SKC at the top of the Western Conference. They need to start allowing fewer shots per game but the fact is, they’ll be expecting to pick up three more points against Seattle.

The Sounders’ season couldn’t have gone much worse so far. They’ve only played three games as a result of CONCACAF Champions League commitments but have yet to score a goal, let alone pick up a point. Oh, and they’ve picked up three red cards. Brian Schmetzer’s team have been decimated by injuries but they have enough quality to bounce back from this slump.

Seattle know they can turn their season around. They seem to pick up pace in the summer every year before charging into the playoffs. But they need to start getting some points on the board now to make sure they don’t have a ridiculous mountain to climb.

This will be the 17th regular season clash between the two sides. Seattle hold the advantage, having won eight of the previous 16 games, with SKC picking up five wins. They met twice last season, with the home side coming away victorious both times. It’s been five years since Seattle won away at Sporting KC.

Sporting Kansas City vs Seattle Sounders: Team News

Sporting Kansas City

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Felipe Gutierrez (undisclosed).

🚑 Out: None.

Seattle Sounders

❌ Suspensions: Kelvin Leerdam & Clint Dempsey.

❓ Doubts: Henry Wingo (left thumb surgery).

🚑 Out: Jordan Morris (torn ACL), Osvaldo Alonso (quad), Victor Rodriguez (right knee sprain), Kim Kee-Hee (right calf strain).

Sporting Kansas City vs Seattle Sounders: Key Stats

Sporting KC’s MLS form: W/W/D/W/W

Seattle Sounders’ MLS form: L/L/L

Key stat: Seattle Sounders have failed to score in each of their last four regular season road games – the longest run in club history.

Sporting Kansas City vs Seattle Sounders: Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 2-0 Seattle Sounders: It’s difficult to see the Sounders’ shocking start to the season picking up in Kansas City this weekend. The hosts are in fine form and are flying high at the top of the West. Seattle aren’t helped by the suspensions either and facing Tim Melia means it’s unlikely they will even find their first goal of the season here. Home win.

MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 6 – Tim Melia comes up big in record-setting performance

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

There was only going to be one winner of Week 6’s MLSGB Defensive Player of the Week so it will come as no surprise to see Tim Melia as our standout defensive performer of the weekend. The Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper put in a record-setting performance in the 2-0 road win at LA Galaxy. Melia made a staggering ten saves to earn a valuable shutout and help SKC to three more big points.

The 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year made six saves from shots made from outside the box, saving all four of the Galaxy’s efforts from inside the area too. He also completed 35 of his 42 passes.

Sporting Kansas City were the league’s best defence last season by some margin. But there were early concerns this campaign after they conceded nine goals in their first four games. However, Melia has now kept back-to-back clean sheets as the SKC defence begins to look solid once more.

A look at the ten shots Tim Melia saved in the 2-0 win over LA Galaxy (Stats via @StatsZone)

The graphic above shows just how impressive Melia’s goalkeeping was. LA Galaxy peppered his goal with ten attempts for a variety of positions but the 31-year-old stopper would not be beaten.

The one concern for SKC will be the fact they are allowing their opponents so many shots at goal. Melia is currently facing an average of 13 shots per game from opponents, and while not all of those will be on target, he will hope his defenders can start closing down attacks sooner.

Don’t miss: MLS Attacking Player of the Week – Week 6

Sporting KC’s win sees them stretch their lead at the top of the Western Conference to three points. They have made a good start to the season and now prepare for their Week 7 home clash with Seattle Sounders.

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.

MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs: Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City

BBVA Compass Stadium – Thursday, October 26 – 21:30 ET (02:30 BST)

Match Odds: Houston 23/20 – Draw 9/4 – Sporting KC 23/10

Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City: Preview

Houston Dynamo take on Sporting Kansas City for the third time in two weeks on Thursday night. But this time, it’s in the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. This has all the makings of a classic Knockout Round clash, but only one side can make it through to the Western Conference semifinals.

The Dynamo leapfrogged SKC on Decision Day and earned home-field advantage for Thursday’s game as a result. They come into the playoffs in good form and are favourites to advance.

Houston have improved drastically from a year ago. They are unbeaten in six games – drawing at SKC and beating them 2-1 at home in that time – and only lost once at home during the regular season.

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They rounded off the regular season with a 3-0 home win over Chicago Fire. That result sets them up perfectly, but they did lose two players to injury. AJ DeLaGarza has been ruled out the playoffs but Romell Quioto could return for Thursday’s game, but his status isn’t yet known.

Sporting Kansas City will have to try and get the job done without Tim Melia. The goalkeeper has probably been their best player this season but hasn’t played in almost a month as a result of a hamstring injury.

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The visitors don’t have any kind of promising form to take into this game. They haven’t won in five and only picked up two roads wins all season. Peter Vermes’ men need to put in one hell of a performance if they’re to make the Conference Semifinals.

As mentioned, this will be the third meeting between the two sides in two weeks. Sporting KC won at Houston in the US Open Cup back in June on the way to their win in the competition. But they failed to win either of the two regular season clashes.

Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City: Team News

Houston will hope Romell Quioto is passed fit to play after leaving Sunday’s game with an injury. AJ DeLaGarza will miss the playoffs after tearing his ACL. George Malki and Memo Rodriguez remain sidelined, while Philippe Senderos is listed as ‘questionable’.

Sporting KC will be without Tim Melia once again. That means Andrew Dykstra will start in goal. Cameron Porter is the only other injury absence for the visitors

Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City: Key Points

Houston Dynamo’s last five: D/W/W/D/W

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

Key Stat: Houston are unbeaten in eight regular season games against Sporting KC. They’ve won four and drawn four of those games, outscoring them 16-10.

Key Player: Romell Quioto – Houston will be desperate for the Honduran attacker to be fit. They’ve averaged 0.4 more points-per-game with him, than without him. If he plays, they’ll be the threat they have been so often this season.

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Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City: Prediction

Houston Dynamo 2-0 Sporting Kansas City – Form might not matter as much as usual during knockout football. But in the case of Thursday’s game, it’s hard to see how Sporting Kansas City can turn their fortunes around. They haven’t looked good in recent weeks. They’ve failed to beat Houston home or away. And they are struggling for goals. The Dynamo are strong at home and are riding high. They should make it through to the Conference Semifinals without too much trouble.

2017 US Open Cup Final Preview: Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls

2017 US Open Cup Final: Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls

Children’s Mercy Park – Wednesday, September 20 – 21:00 ET (02:00 BST)

Match Odds: Sporting KC 10/11 – Draw 23/10 – NY Red Bulls 3/1

Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls: 2017 US Open Cup Final Preview

It’s here. The 2017 US Open Cup Final will take place at Children’s Mercy Park as Sporting Kansas City take on the New York Red Bulls.

Three-time winners SKC will be looking to win their third Open Cup title in six years, while the Red Bulls are bidding to win the trophy for the first time. This is their first Open Cup final since 2003, where they lost 1-0 to the Chicago Fire.

Sporting KC’s route to the final has been fairly straightforward. They kept clean sheets in their first three games, beating Minnesota, Houston and FC Dallas. Their semi-final clash at San Jose was a little more tricky, but they advanced on penalties after a 1-1 draw in normal time.

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The Red Bulls came close to being eliminated by this year’s surprise package in the semi-final. FC Cincinnati were 2-0 up with 15 minutes to go but a late comeback, followed by a Bradley Wright-Phillips winner in extra-time earned the Red Bulls their ticket to the final.

Wins over New York City FC, Philadelphia Union and the New England Revolution preceded that semi-final victory. The Red Bulls know they are the underdogs for Wednesday night’s game. But as we all know, anything can happen in a final.

Neither side comes into the game in great form. SKC have only won two of their last five, while the Red Bulls are winless in five, having drawing four on the spin.

Their lone regular season meeting this season ended in a 2-0 win for Sporting KC at Children’s Mercy Park. A repeat result here would see SKC pick up their fourth US Open Cup title. Victory would also make Sporting KC the only MLS club with four major trophies since 2012. They are currently tied with Seattle on three over the past six seasons.

Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls: 2017 US Open Cup Final Team News

Peter Vermes named a strong starting lineup for the 3-1 win over New England at the weekend. Soni Mustivar and Cameron Porter are ruled out through injury. Daniel Salloi is listed as questionable with a hip injury.

New York Red Bulls boss Jesse Marsch is expected to set up with five at the back as he looks to make it difficult for SKC. Ryan Meara will keep his place in goal for the final, after playing every game in the competition so far this season. Gideon Baah, Mike Grella and Daniel Royer remain injured. While former Sporting Kansas City defender Aurelien Collin is also still out with an ongoing foot problem. Marsch rested a host of first-team regulars on Sunday night, so the Red Bulls should be fresh on Wednesday.

Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls: 2017 US Open Cup Final: Key Points

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

New York Red Bulls’ last five: L/D/D/D/D

Key Stat: Sporting Kansas City have never lost a US Open Cup final, winning on all three previous trips to the main event. They won both of their last two titles on penalties.

Key Player: Bradley Wright-Phillips – The Red Bulls forward has scored three goals in four games in the US Open Cup this season. He will be tasked with trying to break down an SKC defence that has been the best in MLS this season. He proved to be the match winner in the semi-final clash with FC Cincinnati and will be looking to do the same here.

Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls: 2017 US Open Cup Final Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 1-1* New York Red Bulls – Sporting Kansas City’s past two US Open Cup final wins have come on penalties. We think with this one being finely poised, a shootout may well be necessary again to determine the 2017 champion. The Red Bulls have a long-standing history of failing in knockout competitions. But they have an experienced group that should be able to get the job done. If it does go to penalties, it really is a lottery. But we think the Red Bulls would just edge it in a shootout. Expect it to be close. Expect it to be hard-fought. But most of all: Expect the unexpected.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New York City FC vs Sporting Kansas City

Major League Soccer: New York City FC vs Sporting Kansas City

Yankee Stadium – Wednesday, September 6 – 19:30 ET (00:30 )

Match Odds: New York City FC 19/20 – Draw 5/2 – Sporting Kansas City 13/5

New York City FC vs Sporting Kansas City: Preview

New York City FC welcome Sporting Kansas City to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night in what is a key game for both sides. International absences mean both teams will be without key players but that shouldn’t prevent what should be an intriguing battle.

Both sides are well on course for the playoffs. Sporting Kansas City are third in the West but have games in hand over Portland and Seattle. They are in a strong position to win the conference and just need to continue their form over the final couple of months of the regular season.

New York City are second in the East, nine points behind league leaders Toronto. They are unlikely to catch the Reds but this is their game in hand, so a win would cut the gap to six points.

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NYCFC is unbeaten in four matches, winning three and drawing one in that time. They haven’t failed to score at home all season and have only lost once at Yankee Stadium in 2017. In fact, that defeat to Orlando back in April was their only home loss in the last 14 months of regular season play.

This is the first of two games at Yankee Stadium in three days for New York City. They face Portland on Saturday and know that they will have all but guaranteed their postseason berth with back-to-back wins.

But Sporting Kansas City have only lost five times all season – only Toronto have lost fewer – and arrive in good form. Peter Vermes’ men have only lost one of their last 11 MLS games. However, that did come in their latest road trip at Seattle a few weeks ago.

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SKC have been consistent all season, without really setting the world alight. They will be looking to frustrate NYCFC on Wednesday ahead of Sunday’s trip to Columbus. A win on Wednesday would send them top of the West. A draw would leave them just one point off the summit.

Sporting KC also have the US Open Cup Final to look ahead to. They take on the New York Red Bulls at Children’s Mercy Park on September 20 with the chance to with the competition for the second time in three seasons.

This will be the only regular season meeting between the two teams. NYCFC claimed a 1-0 win in a preseason friendly back in February. However, SKC have won both previous MLS clashes, winning 1-0 at Yankee Stadium in 2015 before claiming a 3-1 home win last year.

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New York City FC vs Sporting Kansas City: Team News

NYCFC will be without Rodney Wallace as the midfielder will serve a one-game suspension as a result of yellow card accumulation. Although Wallace is with the Costa Rican team anyway, and would not have been available for Wednesday’s match. David Villa will miss out as he is away with the Spanish team, who face Liechtenstein on Tuesday. Alex Ring (Finland) and Yangel Herrera (Venezuela) are also unavailable as a result of international duty. On top of that, Ronald Matarrita, Miguel Camargo, Maxime Chanot, Ethan White and Mikey Lopez are injured.

Sporting Kansas City are without key duo Matt Besler and Graham Zusi, who have both been away with the USA. James Musa is with the New Zealand team, while Soony Saad has been away with Lebanon. Cameron Porter remains sidelined for the season with a serious ankle injury.

New York City FC vs Sporting Kansas City: Key Points

NYCFC’s last five: L/W/W/W/D

Sporting KC’s last five: D/W/D/L/W

Key Stat: Sporting KC have the league’s leading defence in 2017, having conceded just 19 goals in 25 games so far.

Key Player: Tim Melia – The SKC goalkeeper has played every minute of MLS action this season and has shone in between the sticks. He has kept 10 clean sheets and has made the sixth-most saves in MLS this term with 74. New York City haven’t failed to score at home all season but if anyone is likely to stop them, it’s Melia given his form.

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New York City FC vs Sporting Kansas City: Prediction

New York City FC 1-1 Sporting KC – Both sides have key players missing for Wednesday’s game. Squad depth will be tested and both will fancy their chances of taking all three points. However, NYCFC are a real force at home and Sporting Kansas City are tough to break down. That should lead to a low-scoring draw.