Welcome to your match thread for a midweek match-up between Orlando City (6-2-4, 22 points) and Sporting Kansas City (6-4-2, 20 points) at Children’s Mercy Park. It is the lone meeting of the two sides scheduled for 2020.
The Lions enter tonight in third place in the Eastern Conference, just five points behind Supporters Shield-leading Columbus. Sporting is second in the West, just one point behind Seattle, although the Sounders have a game in hand.
Orlando City is 2-2-1 in the all-time series, but 0-2-0 on the road. The most recent meeting resulted in a 1-0 Orlando City win at Exploria Stadium on Aug. 14 of last year. Tesho Akindele scored the only goal off a Carlos Ascues pass for the game’s only goal, although both teams squandered offensive opportunities in the match.
The most recent game in Kansas City was a 1-0 SKC victory at Children’s Mercy Park on Sept. 8, 2018. Felipe Gutierrez provided the only goal in Dom Dwyer’s return to Kansas City. It was a rough outing for Dwyer, who missed two golden opportunities to score.
Sporting is the first MLS team to come into Exploria Stadium (then known as Orlando City Stadium) and take any points in a 2-2 draw in 2017. Latif Blessing scored both SKC goals in the first non-win for the Lions in their new stadium. That non-win 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 for an apparent go-ahead goal. Cyle Larin and Kaká scored Orlando’s goals that counted.
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 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 unbeaten in their last six league games (4-0-2), which equals the team’s best such run in the MLS era. Orlando is just 1-2-1 in true road games in 2020, and 3-2-2 in all league games away from Exploria Stadium.
Sporting Kansas City lost its most recent match 3-2 at home to FC Dallas — Orlando’s next opponent this Sunday night — last Saturday. The Sporks have just one win in their last six games (1-3-2) after a 5-1-0 start to the season. One of the big reasons for the recent slide is the absence of record-breaking DP signing Alan Pulido, who has three goals and four assists in his eight starts this season. Pulido leads the team in assists and is fourth in goals, but hasn’t played in the last four matches. However, he is due for a return just as the Lions arrive in Kansas City, because of course he is.
Johnny Russell’s five goals pace Sporting, followed by Gadi Kinda and Khiry Shelton, with four apiece. Like the Lions, Sporting Kansas City has scored 23 goals in its 12 matches so far, but has given up 18 to Orlando’s 14. The big question is whether or not Sporting KC will rotate out some starters in preparation for a Western Conference battle with the Colorado Rapids this weekend. Don’t count on it.
As is usual with Peter Vermes’ Sporting Kansas City sides, it will be difficult to beat them on the road. They are generally well organized and generate plenty of shots, and Tim Melia gives them one of the league’s best shot stoppers in net.
“Kansas City is a dominant team who, during the years, has established a model or an idea of the game that is very typical or similar,” Oscar Pareja said in his press conference Monday. “It has an identity with Peter (Vermes) in a 4-3-3, and always being aggressive and trying to press, and all those things. So it’s one of the best teams in the West.”
The Lions are without Dwyer and Joao Moutinho, and Uri Rosell is also listed as out for this match with an undisclosed injury. Matheus Aias has arrived in Orlando but will not be available just yet. Our friends over at The Blue Testament tell us that Roger Espinoza is still out for Sporting Kansas City, with Felipe Gutierrez out for the season. Forward Daniel Salloi, goalkeeper Richard Sanchez, and defender Luis Martins are also listed as out with undisclosed injuries. Gianluca Busio will serve a suspension for yellow card accumulation.
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.
- This week's PawedCast features our talk with Thad Bell from The Blue Testament about what we can expect from SKC, as well as our key match-ups and predictions for the game and our preview of Sunday’s match against FC Dallas.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Ruan.
Midfielders: Benji Michel, Sebas Mendez, Junior Urso, Andres Perea.
Forwards: Nani, Tesho Akindele.
Bench: Brian Rowe, Alex De John, Kamal Miller, Mauricio Pereyra, Robinho, Joey DeZart, Chris Mueller, Jordan Bender, Daryl Dike.
Sporting Kansas City (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Tim Melia.
Defenders: Amadou Día, Matt Besler, Roberto Puncec,Graham Zusi.
Midfielders: Felipe Hernandez, Ilie Sanchez, Gadi Kinda.
Forwards: Gerso, Khiry Shelton, Johnny Russell.
Bench: John Pulskamp, Winston Reid, Andreu Fontas, Graham Smith, Jaylin Lindsey, Cameron Duke, Wan Kuzain, Alan Pulido, Erik Hurtado.
Ref: Victor Rivas.
AR1: Cameron Blanchard.
AR2: Matthew Nelson.
4th: Alejandro Mariscal.
VAR: Daniel Radford.
AVAR: Fabio Tovar.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park — Kansas City, KN.
TV: FOX Sports 1.
Radio: Real Radio 104.1 FM (English), Acción 97.9 FM (Spanish), 810 AM.
Streaming: FOX Sports GO.
Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City's official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).
Enjoy the match! Go City!