Sporting KC Matchday 30
Who: Sporting Kansas City (9-12-8, 35 pts) vs Nashville (11-9-7, 40 pts)
When: Wednesday, Sept 20th, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. CT (7:39 kickoff)
Where: Children’s Mercy Park| Kansas City
Watch: Apple TV
English Radio | Sports Radio 810 WHB
Spanish Radio | La Grande 1340 AM
Sporting Kansas City hosts Nashville SC Wednesday evening at Children’s Mercy Park. The visitors are seventh in the Eastern Conference with 40 points in 27 games (11-9-7). Sporting KC sits just outside of the playoff line in tenth with 35 points in 29 games (9-12-8).
Nashville was playing well through their first 18 games, going 10-3-5, but their last nine have seen the Tennessee side slump with a 1-6-2 record. Winless in their last six, Nashville head coach Gary Smith will be looking to get them back on track in Kansas City.
The visitors have had a quality defense through most of the season boasting a league-low 27 goals allowed in 27 matches. Nashville has one of the best attackers in the league with star midfielder Hany Mukhtar. The German Designated Player is the reigning MLS MVP and MLS Golden Boot winner. Mukhtar is tied for the lead in goals with 14 and has also added eight assists.
While Nashville struggled over the last nine regular season games, they were Leagues Cup finalists in that time as well, losing to Inter Miami in penalties. Part of that Leagues Cup run was fueled by three goals from their new Designated Player Sam Surridge. The English striker was acquired over the summer from Premier League side Nottingham Forest.
Sporting KC is the inverse of Nashville. With a poor start to the season, going winless in their first ten matches, Sporting KC have nine wins with five draws and five defeats in their last nineteen matches. SKC also has a Golden Boot contender in Designate Player Alan Pulido. The Mexican striker came off a season-long injury in 2022 and missed the first few games for Kansas City. Pulido is just one behind the Golden Boot leaders with thirteen in just twenty-four games.
With just five matches remaining for Sporting KC, head coach Peter Vermes will be pushing his squad to get every point they can. “We said we wanted to have a good push coming out of the Leagues Cup and I would say three out of four games is pretty good for our group. It’s giving us an opportunity and we’ve got to keep fighting for it. Each game is not a game anymore, it’s halves. It’s half by half, we have ten halves left so we’ve got to take care of the first one,” Vermes told the media.
After Nashville, SKC hosts Houston on Saturday, their third game in a week. Sporting KC then goes on the road at St. Louis and Salt Lake before returning home for the final game versus Minnesota.
Coach thoughts on the opponent:
When asked about Nashville, Vermes responded, “They don’t really give anything away. Individually they have very good defenders, they’re good in the air, in the box. And the final piece is they have guys up front, especially Mukhtar, that can find the soft spots in the team on the counter.”
There is not a lot of history with the Tennessee side. This will be just the fourth meeting between the two sides with Sporting KC taking two wins. Nashville came out on top just once and it was in their last meeting with SKC.
Sporting Kansas City
DEF – Kortne Ford (Achilles Surgery)
DEF – Kayden Pierre (Hamstring Injury
DEF – Graham Zusi (Hamstring Injury)
Teal Bunbury (suspension)
Nick DePuy (Lower Body Injury) – SEI
Walker Zimmerman (Lower Body Injury)
Sam Surridge (Lower Body Injury)
Randall Leal (Illness)
Referee: Victor Rivas
Assistant ref: Kyle Atkins
Assistant ref: Noah Kenyawani
4th official: Armando Villarreal
VAR: Edvin Jurisevic
Rivas was the official for two Sporting KC games this season. SKC drew 0-0 on the road and received 2 yellow cards to Philly’s three in April. SKC won on the road 2-1 with three yellow cards to Seattle’s two. He was the referee once for Nashville when they won 3-1 at home over Columbus. The home side received three yellows compared to two for Columbus.