Sporting Kansas City vs. San Jose Earthquakes
2017 MLS Regular Season
Children's Mercy Park - Kansas City, Kan.
Saturday, March 18 - 8:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS Live, FOX Sports KC
Dom Kinnear's old team might be getting all the love right now, with the Houston Dynamo off to a 2-0-0 start and scoring goals in bunches, but his current side is also enjoying early-season success after years of frustration. The San Jose Earthquakes have also taken six points from their first two games -- and showed off some of that old Goonies magic their last time out, to boot.
Sporting Kansas City, meanwhile, have seen nothing but clean sheets so far this year -- on both sides of the scoreboard. Sporting haven't conceded a regular-season goal since Oct. 1 -- a shutout string of four matches going into Saturday's meeting at Children's Mercy Park -- but they also haven't scored in their last three outings across all competitions, after last season ended with a controversial 1-0 defeat to Seattle in the Western Conference Knockout Round.
The last team to concede against Sporting? The 'Quakes, with Kansas City taking the 2016 regular-season finale, 2-0.
Sporting Kansas City
If you like high-possession, high-pressing soccer, Sporting KC are your guys. They can string together passes in and out of traffic, harass opponents in the attacking and middle thirds -- everything but score so far, really.
To be fair, some of that has to do with how the opposition tends to play them: withstand the pressure, hold shape and look for the counter. Kansas City have failed to finish some really good looks, though, including last weekend when they drew FC Dallas 0-0 despite visiting manager Oscar Pareja's decision to rest key starters -- including center back Walker Zimmerman -- ahead of a CONCACAF Champions League semifinals game.
Sporting, understandably -- and rightfully, given their tendency last year to bleed cheap goals -- are emphasizing their defensive stinginess and Tim Melia's 0.00 GAA. The fans are starting to get restless, though, and a second straight goal-less home outing would not sit well with the Cauldron.
- Suspended: none
- Int'l duty: none
- Injury report: OUT - F Diego Rubio (ACL); QUESTIONABLE - D Saad Abdul-Salaam (thigh strain), F Cameron Iwasa (hamstring strain), D Erik Palmer-Brown (ankle sprain)
Projected Starting Lineup (4-3-3): Tim Melia – Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Ike Opara, Graham Zusi – Roger Espinoza, Ilie, Benny Feilhaber – Gerso, Dom Dwyer, Jimmy Medranda.
Note: Following their 0-0 draw with FC Dallas last weekend, Kansas City are now unbeaten in their last 10 regular season games at homes, with six clean sheets (7W-3D).
San Jose Earthquakes
Okay, so the match-winner came in the 79th minute and not second-half stoppage time, and the Earthquakes did get a boost when Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted drew a straight red card in the 23rd minute. Still, trailing 2-0 after just 17 minutes and then coming back for a 3-2 victory on Saturday did bring back memories of the days when you couldn't count San Jose out until the final whistle.
Anibal Godoy has been a victory-delivery machine in the early going, scoring both of he Earthquakes' decisive goals this year, and his strike from distance to complete the comeback on Sunday was a thing of beauty. Throw in homegrown defender Nick Lima opening his account in just his second MLS match, and the Earthquakes -- who scored a league-low 32 goals in 2016 -- look like offensive threats out of the gate.
The downside? They gave up two quick goals their last time out -- and if Sporting can bag one on Saturday, that might be all the home side needs.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – Quincy Amarikwa (knee surgery); Marvell Wynne (heart abnormality); Marc Pelosi (left knee injury)
Projected starting XI (4-4-2): David Bingham (GK) — Nick Lima, Florian Jungwirth, Victor Bernardez, Shaun Francis — Tommy Thompson, Anibal Godoy, Fatai Alashe, Simon Dawkins – Marco Urena, Chris Wondolowski
Note: San Jose have only won once in their last 19 regular season away games, dating back to September 2015 (11L-7D). The Earthquakes have failed to score in six of their last 13 road games.
The Earthquakes hold a narrow edge in the series, with 24 victories to Sporting KC's 23, and there have been seven draws.
- Overall: SJ lead 24-23-7
- At Kansas City: SKC lead 18-8-1
- Referee: Jair Marrufo
- Assistant Referee (Near Side): Eduardo Mariscal
- Assistant Referee (Far Side): Jeffrey Greeson
- Fourth official: Chris Penso