Sporting KC @ LAFC
When: Wednesday, May 17, 2023 at 9:30 PM CT (9:39 kickoff)
Where: BMO Stadium
How to Watch/Stream: Apple MLS Season Pass
Sporting Kansas City are back on the road after their first successful home game of the year and they are going into another brutal week of road games. They head to the West Coast for a late kickoff against LAFC before coming back to the heartland to face new rival St. Louis City SC. LA are in second place (first in the west on points per game), despite a packed schedule of CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) games and St. Louis are in third despite a recent slump.
More on St. Louis later in the week, but Sporting KC’s attention has to be firmly set on the defending MLS Cup Champions. Former Sporting KC midfielder, Ilie Sanchez, will host SKC in a game that means a lot more to KC than to LA.
LAFC are entering a rough stretch of games that include hosting Sporting KC and the San Jose Earthquakes this week, followed by a mid-week US Open Cup game against their cross-city rival, the LA Galaxy (USOC), before they hit the road to Mexico for the first leg of the CCL Final against Leon (Liga MX) in the middle of the next week.
Entering this match with Sporting KC, LA are playing pretty fantastic. They have a great record in 2023 and they have won three straight over Sporting in league play. At home, they are even better. They have won 13 of 14 home matches in league play, dating all the way back to early 2022.
LAFC’s Recent Form
- April 8 vs. Austin FC – 3-0 Win
- April 11 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps – 3-0 Win (CCL)
- April 16 @ LA Galaxy – 3-2 Win
- April 22nd @ Nashville SC – 1-1 Draw
- April 26 @ Philadelphia Union – 1-1 Draw (CCL)
- May 2 vs. Philly – 3-0 Win (CCL)
- May 6 @ San Jose Earthquakes – 1-2 Loss
- May 9 @ Monterey Bay FC – 2-2 Draw (5-4 PK win – USOC)
- May 13 @ Real Salt Lake – 3-0 Win
To get the last five league games, I had to go back nine game overall. LAFC have been very busy in CCL and the US Open Cup. Despite that, they lost just one of those games (with six games being on the road). That’s against their Saturday opponent, so let’s hoping they prioritize that game over Sporting KC.
What’s new for LAFC in 2023?
Despite talk of big sales, LAFC have remained fairly steady as they prioritize winning CCL, though there is some turnover.
IN: Perhaps the biggest signing of the offseason is USMNT centerback Aaron Long, who joined from Red Bull New York on a free agent move. The team also invested heavily in U-22 prospect Stipe Biuk as well as adding midfielder Timothy Tillman, who has been so good he’s pushed Jose Cifuentes for starting minutes.
Los Angeles made additional acquisitions in midfielder Mateusz Bogusz from Leeds United, goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic from Everton and defender Denil Moldonado from Motagua.
OUT: Gareth Bale is the biggest name on the list. He retired in the offseason (though outside of MLS Cup heroics, he never contributed too much last year). The biggest contributor that is gone is striker Cristian Arango who was sold to Pachuca (Mexico) in the offseason for a healthy transfer fee.
Former SKC man Latif Blessing is also gone, as he was traded to the New England Revolution. They also lost promising international midfielder Sebastian Mendez who was out of contract after the season.
Outside of that, several guys are either out of contract or had options declined, including Sebastien Ibeagha, Franco Escobar and Eddie Segura.
Official #SportingKC Injury/Availability Report:
QUESTIONABLE – Leibold (hamstring)
OUT – Melia (quad injury), Shelton (adductor), Pierre (hamstring), Ford (Achilles), Agada (tibia surgery)#LAFCvSKC
— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) May 16, 2023
Tim Melia is a new addition to the injury report after subbing out early against Minnesota United. Tim Leibold looks like he’s also getting closer to a return, which he needs to do to justify his salary.
Leibold is back in full training, but they're doing a little fitness buildup with him since he's been out as long as he has.
— Daniel Sperry (@sperrydaniel94) May 16, 2023
As of this writing, LAFC’s official injury report isn’t yet out, but news came out that Kellyn Acosta is injured and out of Wednesday’s game.
— Justin Ruderman (@JustinRuderman_) May 16, 2023
Here is the rest of the report, as of the weekend:
OUT: Maxime Crepeau (left leg), Tony Leone (right leg), Giorgio Chiellini (lower extremity), Jesus Murillo (lower extremity)
QUESTIONABLE: Julian Gaines (lower extremity)
Goals: Daniel Salloi (2), Willy Agada, Johnny Russell, Erik Thommy, Alan Pulido, Dany Rosero, Gadi Kinda (1)
Assists: Daniel Salloi (3), Erik Thommy (2), Gadi Kinda, Alan Pulido, Johnny Russell, Remi Walter (1)
Goals: Denis Bouanga (9), Carlos Vela (3), Kwadwo Opoku, Timothy Tillman (2), four with one (1)
Assists: Vela (5), Bouanga, Jose Cifuentes (2), three with one (1)
Usually, I do an entire article focused on the lineup, but these double game weeks are brutal. What I will say is I think Sporting KC will go for it. They phoned it in the US Open Cup because it was three games in seven days and that middle game was an undervalued competition (that they arguably should have advanced in). They are so behind in the league, I bet they make minimal rotations and all in this week.
I could see them starting a few backups with the “starters” on the bench reach to replace them as well. But it won’t be a lineup full of backups like it was in Houston.
It’ll be interesting to see if Los Angeles looks at them as the last place team that they are and think they can squeak by. They probably can, but Sporting KC are actually hot right now off back-to-back league wins. The win over the Seattle Sounders on the road was really big. The 3-0 shellacking of Minnesota United was nice too, because it showed confidence. If this team gets rolling, anything is possible.
Don’t rule out a win, but a draw on the road would be acceptable. LA probably gets the job done, but momentum is absolutely a real thing.
PREDICTION: 3-2 SKC Loss