Sporting Kansas City vs FC Cincinnati
When: Sunday, July 23 at 6:30pm CT
Where: TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
How to Watch: Apple TV
Sporting Kansas City open their Leagues Cup campaign with their first ever trip to TQL Stadium to take on FC Cincinnati who lead the Supporters Shield race in regular season play.
Regular Season Record: 15-2-6
Last 5: (2-2-1)
Saturday, June 24 @ DC United – 3-0 Loss
Saturday, July 1 vs New England Revolution – 2-2 Draw
Saturday, July 8 @ Charlotte FC – 2-2 Draw
Wednesday, July 12 @ New York Red Bulls – 2-1 Win
Saturday, July 15 vs Nashville SC – 3-1 Win
Regular Season Record: 6-8-11
Last 5: (1-2-2)
Saturday, June 24 vs Chicago Fire – 1-0 Loss
Saturday, July 1 vs Vancouver Whitecaps – 3-0 Win
Saturday, July 8 @ Houston Dynamo – 2-2 Draw
Wednesday, July 12 vs Real Salt Lake – 2-2 Draw
Saturday, July 15 at Austin FC – 2-1 Loss
Two days after the eyes of the entire futbol world were tuned in to the Leagues Cup match between Inter Miami and Cruz Azul, Sporting Kansas City opens their Leagues Cup campaign against MLS-opponent FC Cincinnati.
Cincy is experiencing their best regular season season to date as they sit atop the Eastern Conference and simultaneously lead the Supporters Shield. They are lead by MVP-candidate Luciano Acosta who is tied for the second-leading goal-scorer in regular season play with 12 goals.
Offensively, FC Cincinnati are tied for fifth in the league in scoring with 39 goals. Coupled with only allowing the third lowest amount of goals this season (25), it ties the club for the second-best goal differential (14), behind only St. Louis City (16).
Sporting KC on the other hand have struggled to put together a complete run of form in any stretch of games in the regular season. The club sits at the middle of the pack in goals scored (31), but still have a negative goal differential at -5.
The resurgence of Mexican striker Alan Pulido has him tied for fifth in leading-scorer race with 10, nine of which coming since the start of June.
Defensively, SKC will need to stop the high-powered Cincinnati offense, while also working to break down the stout defense.
Though the two previous meetings between these two clubs have ended in a victory for KC and a draw, the stage is different this time.
KC and Cincy are partnered with Liga MX front-runners Chivas Guadalajara in the Central 3 group of the Leagues Cup, meaning in the next two matchdays, Sporting will face off against the top teams in the MLS and Liga MX. A tall task, but one the club could take advantage of.
The matchup with Chivas is much juicer, given the storylines surrounding the aforementioned Pulido, but before they can even think about that, as Bill Belichick said, “We’re on to Cincinnati.”
Sporting has a chance to show off their capacity to handle an international tournament on top of the already grueling regular season. Though the season has not gone the way the club or fans have hoped for so far, a great showing in this tournament could be the fire needed to end the season on a high and solidify a playoff spot that sits just within reach.
Personally, my hope is that Peter Vermes puts out his best XI to play against both FC Cincinnati and, especially, Chivas.
There is potential for a turning point, and this could be that moment. I, like many others, continue to be weary of the defensive side of the ball. These two matches against two top teams is where the defensive line can truly show their capabilities (or flaws).