Sporting Kansas City vs. New York Red Bulls
2017 MLS Regular Season
Children’s Mercy Park – Kansas City, Kansas
Wednesday, May 3 | 8:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
It hasn’t been sexy, but Sporting Kansas City keeps getting it done. SKC has endured their share of offensive struggles in 2017, but their backline has been the best in the league, allowing just three goals in their opening eight matches – good for a miniscule 0.38 goals against average. That stinginess has pushed them up the table, with Sporting sitting in second in the West and fourth in MLS with 15 points after easily dispatching Real Salt Lake 3-0 on Saturday.
One of the three teams they trail? That’d be the New York Red Bulls. Jesse Marsch’s crew have overcome some early struggles to rise into second in the Eastern Conference, winning their last three matches – all home games against East foes, including a 2-1 win against Chicago on Saturday – to improve to 5-3-1 on the year. Their resurgence has been powered by a return to the 4-2-3-1 formation, which should matchup interestingly with Sporting’s 4-3-3 at Children’s Mercy Park on Wednesday night.
Sporting Kansas City
After a sluggish offensive start took some of the shine off of their outstanding defensive performances, Sporting’s attack finally looks like it’s woken up. After being shutout in three of their first four matches, Sporting have scored seven in their last four, including three on Saturday against RSL.
Forward Dom Dwyer is starting to click into gear, too – he found the back of the net on Saturday to pick up his third goal in his last four matches. Perhaps even more importantly, offseason signing Gerso Fernandes looks like he may be finding his feet. The Portuguese Designated Player scored Sporting’s third against RSL – he has the potential to give defenders fits and draw attention away from Dwyer, who’s been left isolated up top too often in the past few years.
“The way Dom works up there, it's always going to open up some spaces, and now he has got some guys to work around him,” SKC’s Benny Feilhaber said after Saturday’s match. “Gerso is a guy that is flying all over the place and he gives that little bit of fear in the defense to have to drop. He can get in behind. I think the offense is coming along but as always, there is room for improvement and I think we can get better."
- Suspensions: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: Diego Rubio (Torn ACL)
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): GK: Tim Melia - Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Ilie, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber - Gerso, Dom Dwyer, Jimmy Medranda
Notes: Graham Zusi’s assist last Saturday was just his second in his last 15 regular season MLS appearances.
New York Red Bulls
Aside from MLS-leading Orlando City SC, New York are the hottest team in the league, winning their last three matches to climb into second in the Eastern Conference. Similar to Kansas City, defense has led the way during the Red Bulls’ winning streak, with New York allowing just one goal – a well-taken strike on Saturday by the Fire’s Nemanja Nikolic – in their last three games and only conceding twice in their last four.
The attack has been keyed by a rotating cast of characters, with star striker Bradley Wright-Phillips and second-year winger Alex Muyl pacing the club with two goals each in their last three games. While they’re hot, the Red Bulls will be at a disadvantage on the road on Wednesday – Kansas City are 10-0-3 in their last 13 regular season matches at Children’s Mercy Park, and they won’t have to pile travel on top of their already short turnaround.
- Suspensions: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: Gideon Baah (broken leg), Mike Grella (knee injury), Aurelien Collin (abdominal strain); QUESTIONABLE: Sal Zizzo (calf strain)
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): GK: Luis Robles - Connor Lade, Damien Perrinelle, Aaron Long, Kemar Lawrence - Tyler Adams, Felipe - Alex Muyl, Sacha Kljestan, Daniel Royer - Bradley Wright-Phillips
Notes:Counting the playoffs, Bradley Wright-Phillips has scored six goals against Sporting Kansas City. All six came in the 2014 season.
- Overall: Series tied 20-20-13
- At Sporting Kansas City: SKC lead 14-9-5
- Referee: Allen Chapman
- Assistant Referees: Danny Thornberry, Nick Uranga
- 4th Referee: Edvin Jurisevic