Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night match-up between Orlando City (7-16-3, 24 points) and Sporting Kansas City (13-7-6, 45 points) at Children’s Mercy Park. It’s the only scheduled meeting in this cross-conference series for 2018.
The Lions are deadlocked with Chicago for last place in the Eastern Conference as we enter the weekend, although they hold the wins tiebreaker by one. Sporting is third in the West.
Orlando City is 1-1-1 in the all-time series (0-1-0 on the road). The last meeting resulted in a 2-2 draw at Orlando City Stadium in 2017. Latif Blessing scored both SKC goals in the first non-win for the Lions in their new stadium, although that happened because the assistant referee ruled that Will Johnson’s corner kick service curled over the end line in the air before Jose Aja had headed it home. Cyle Larin and Kaká scored Orlando’s goals.
In 2016, the Lions went into Children’s Mercy Park and gave up an incredible 34 shots en route to a 2-1 loss in Kansas City. With that many shots, it was a minor miracle to escape without a more lopsided score line. At the time, Sporting put up the third-most shots ever in a regular season MLS game and the most since 1998. David Mateos nodded in off Jimmy Medranda for an own goal to get the Lions on the board with an improbable lead. Joe Bendik made 10 saves but conceded goals to Dom Dwyer (74’) and Jacob Peterson (79’) five minutes apart, as SKC came from behind to win.
The Lions captured the first meeting, 3-1 at home on Sept. 13, 2015. That win snapped a seven-game winless skid at the time and kicked off a club record five-game winning streak. Adrian Winter started the party with a third-minute goal and added another in the 72nd to seal it. After Krisztian Nemeth had equalized in the 59th, Bryan Rochez put Orlando back on top for good with his first MLS goal in the 66th minute.
The Lions are winless in their last seven games (0-5-2), have just one victory in the last 17 games (1-14-2), and are just 2-10-0 on the road in 2018 — after a 2-1-0 start. Orlando City’s last road win came April 29 at Colorado and the club has lost nine straight away from home ever since. Yes, it’s been bad.
Sporting Kansas City lost at Seattle a week ago to snap a four-game winning streak. SKC is 8-2-3 at home in 2018, including the team’s last two at Children’s Mercy Park.
One of the biggest story lines is Dwyer’s first match at Kansas City since being traded to Orlando last season. It’s also a homecoming of sorts for Uri Rosell, who started his MLS career with Sporting back in 2012, spending just over two seasons with the club. The two current Lions helped SKC win MLS Cup in 2013. Dywer has four goals in his last five outings entering this trip to his old stomping grounds.
The Lions have to watch for fullback Graham Zusi sneaking up into the play to join the attack and pull the strings from out wide. The center backs will have to deal with Nemeth, who recently returned to SKC via trade from the New England Revolution, as well as Gerso Fernandes and Yohan Croizet. The central midfield will need to keep an eye on Ilie Sanchez, who has four goals and three assists on the season.
Orlando City will be without Yoshimar Yotún, Amro Tarek, and Mohamed El-Munir, who are all with their national teams. Chris Schuler (groin) is out and Lamine Sané (quad) is listed as day-to-day). In addition to those missing in this game, Dwyer and Sacha Kljestan are both sitting on a suspension if they pick up another yellow.
Diego Rubio, Johnny Russell, and Daniel Salloi will miss the match for Sporting Kansas City on international duty, while Ike Opara is on yellow card suspension. Look for Peter Vermes to play new SKC defender Andreu Fontas in this game. Jimmy Medranda (knee) Christian Lobato (quad) and Kharlton Belmar (knee) are out. Khiry Shelton (knee) is nearing a return to fitness.
Mandatory Match #Content
- Our Intelligence Report has more information about Sporting with the help from Cody Bradley of SB Nation’s Kansas City blog, The Blue Testament.
- Our Ben Miller discusses Dwyer’s return to Kansas City as an opposing player for the first time.
- This week's PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions, plus a discussion of the game with The Blue Testament’s Thad Bell.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Joe Bendik.
Defenders: Jonathan Spector, Carlos Ascues, Shane O’Neill, Scott Sutter.
Defensive Midfielders: Uri Rosell, Will Johnson.
Attacking Midfielders: Cristian Higuita, Sacha Kljestan, Chris Mueller.
Forward: Dom Dwyer.
Bench: Earl Edwards Jr., Lamine Sané, RJ Allen, Dillon Powers, Pierre Da Silva, Josué Colmán, Stefano Pinho.
Sporting Kansas City (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Tim Melia.
Defenders: Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Andreu Fontas, Graham Zusi.
Midfielders: Felipe Gutiérrez, Ilie Sanchez, Roger Espinoza.
Forwards: Yohan Croizet, Krisztián Németh, Gerso Fernandes.
Bench: Eric Dick, Graham Smith, Colton Storm, Wan Kuzain, Brad Evans, Gianluca Busio, Khiry Shelton.
Ref: Alan Kelly.
AR1: Matthew Nelson.
AR2: Brian Dunn.
4th: Hilario Grajeda.
VAR: Ricardo Salazar.
How to Watch
Match Time: 8:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park — Kansas City, KS.
TV: TV 27 (local only).
Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (English), La Nueva 990 (Spanish), SiriusXM FC.
Streaming: ESPN+, YouTube TV.
Match Thread Rules
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Enjoy the match! Go City!