Sporting KC vs. LA Galaxy: Storylines and What to Watch For

KANSAS CITY, KS - JULY 19: Soony Saad #22 of Sporting KC breaks away from Marcelo Sarvas #8 of Los Angeles Galaxy early in the second half on July 19, 2014 at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

Sporting KC begin their final five match stretch this weekend with a marquee matchup against the LA Galaxy. They’ll play three of their final five matches on the road, all in cities that require a good amount of travel. Before they start this stretch, they need to take care of the Galaxy at home. There will be plenty of storylines to watch out for this weekend involving them. We’ll take a look at those, and take a look at match predictions as well.

Sporting KC vs. LA Galaxy: Storylines and What to Watch For

Storylines

Landon’s Return

Of course, Landon Donovan’s return is the biggest storyline right now. The face of US Soccer for so many years, his presence commands attention. Will he play? Probably not more than fifteen minutes, if at all. At 34, and nearly two years removed from competitive soccer, Donovan likely won’t be much of an impact on the field. He will be a big storyline regardless.

Sporting KC’s Playoff Fight

The slight advantage in playing on Sunday, especially during the postseason stretch, is that you know what you need to get. Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes, and Seattle Sounders all play on Saturday. The most concerning games will be with the Timbers and Earthquakes. San Jose goes to Colorado, while Portland goes to Philadelphia. With those results set in stone on Saturday night, Sporting Kansas City will have a clearer picture of what is a “good result” on Sunday. Sporting KC fans will be hoping for Colorado and Philadelphia wins this weekend.

What To Watch For

Sporting’s Left Back Option

Last week, Peter Vermes started Matt Besler at left back. Not only did he chose a natural center-back to play fullback, he put Brad Davis in front of him on the left wing. Davis age was showing as he failed to pick up the overlapping runners three key times. Two of those chances ended up in the back of the net. Add on Besler’s sellouts for the ball and coming away empty handed, the whole left side of the field got torn up by the lowly Houston Dynamo. Choosing a traditional left back is the better option. Vermes has three of those options: Seth Sinovic, Ever Alvarado, and Jimmy Medranda. Medranda as the left back would be the smartest and safest choices.

Left Side vs. Gio

Gio Dos Santos has been in scintillating form recently for the Galaxy, and with how bad the left side was in last weeks game, it will be a key area for both teams. Having good defensive players on that left side, that can read the overlaps and the cutting inside will be needed. With Graham Zusi out due to a calf strain, Davis most likely will get the run out on Sunday.

Predictions

Lineup

Assuming Vermes learned from his mistake against Houston, they should play a traditional fullback at left-back. The bigger question is who to play at left wing. Brad Davis is a little inept on defense this year, mainly due his declining physical ability to play both ways. Jacob Peterson is almost guaranteed to play at right wing as he’s been having a great year. The question is whether or not Sporting have the ability to replace Davis at wing with a competent player. Connor Hallisey looked pretty bad on Tuesday night against Vancouver, so Vermes will most likely keep Davis on the left. Here’s the look:

Match Result Prediction:

The Galaxy have been flying lately, but they’re also a completely different team on the road. Vice-versa, Sporting KC are tough to deal with at home. Sporting are also a much better team than Orlando City, who the Galaxy destroyed 4-2. Sporting KC will ride the hometown energy and get a 2-1 win on Sunday.

Sunday’s match against the Galaxy kicks off at 1pm local time (11amPT/2pmET) on FOX.

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