Manager: Peter Vermes
Formation: 4-3-3 Attacking
Since becoming a permanent member of Sporting KC in 2015, Tim Melia has made over 110 appearances for the club and led them to two US Open titles (2015, 2017) while earning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Honors in 2017. This season he has given up six goals so far in five matches, but it’s so early in the season it is difficult to tell if that is a decent start or not. The San Jose Earthquakes offense is going to have to work hard to get on the board.
Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Andreu Fontas, Graham Suzi
Again this is one of the most common ways Sporting lines up at the back not necessarily how I think they will line up on Saturday as Vermes also likes to use Botond Barath in the back. This group wants to play high up on the pitch, somewhere around the edge of the middle third which the Quakes can take advantage of with the speed and skill of Cristian Espinoza. If they can disrupt Sporting’s buildup, they can turn it into quick opportunities for their offense. To do that they are going to find a way to neutralize Graham Suzi and if the Quakes lineup stays similar to that of the last couple of weeks that task will fall to Shea Salinas and Marcos Lopez. Suzi is second in assists all-time at Sporting Kansas City but has yet to notch one this season, he surely will be looking to change that at Avaya Stadium this Saturday.
Felipe Gutierrez, Ilie Sanchez, Roger Espinoza
With seven yellow cards and one red so far under their belt, this is easily the bruising part of the Sporting lineup. Looking at various statistics and results from other matches this season their other job is to find Zusi or Sinovic coming up the wings so they can go on to feed their powerful forwards. Also, this breakdown would not be complete without mentioning 16-year-old Gianluca Busio who has scored three goals in Sporting’s last three matches and looks ready to explode onto the MLS scene.
Gerso, Krisztian Nemeth, Johnny Russell
This group is the most dangerous part of the Sporting KC lineup just ask the Montreal Impact what they are capable of. In the 7-1 shellacking handed down by KC on March 30, this group accounted for 5 goals and 3 assists. In one match! Nemeth and Russell are at four goals apiece for the season, and although Gerso has yet to get a goal himself, he has two assists to add to the offensive numbers. There is a reason this team is second to LAFC in the number of goals scored so far this season, well actually there are three, and they have their sights set on a team that has allowed 16 goals in six matches. If the Quakes defense that has allowed at least three goals in three separate matches this season shows up this Saturday it could be a long afternoon in San Jose. And though the match will be played on 4/20 no amount of legal weed will help calm the nerves of a fanbase that is begging for a string of good matches to cheer about.