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Sporting KC vs St. Louis City Preview (Game 2) – Playoff Preview

Sporting KC look to eliminate their rivals St. Louis City from the MLS Cup Playoffs and punch their ticket to the Conference Semifinal.



Credit: Thad Bell

Sporting KC vs St. Louis City SC

When: Sunday, November 5, 2023 at 4:00 PM CT

Where: Children’s Mercy Park

How to Watch/Stream: Apple MLS Season Pass
NOTE: Game one is free, two and three are behind the paywall

Sporting Kansas City is set to host St. Louis City in game two of the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs after travelling east on I-70 and dominating their rivals on the road.

After a bummer of a start to the regular season, Sporting find themselves one win away from eliminating the No. 1 seed in the West.

[Insert Paul Rudd “Who would have thought? Not me?” meme here]

There is nothing better than beating your rival, especially if that means eliminating them from the tournament. I’ll keep the gritty details out of it, but the fan wars on X is making the upcoming match even spicier.

Personally, I love it. A real rivalry is good for both parties and the league as a whole.

SKC will have to be at their best to win back-to-back against STL and move on to the Conference Semifinal Round.

Let’s break up this preview between good news and bad news.

Good News:

Sporting are one win away from advancing to the next round, eliminating their newest rivals and ending their Cinderella first season in MLS.

They also have two tries to do it. (Which also means you are guaranteed at least one more match preview from KC Soccer Journal).

SKC are 3-1-1 in their last five matches with the one draw ending in a win in penalties over the San Jose Earthquakes. STL are 2-0-3 in that same stretch, though one of those wins was a 4-1 victory over KC at CITYPARK. Regardless, all three losses in that span have come consecutively, putting STL in the midst of a three-game losing streak.

Alan Pulido played facilitator in game one. The Mexican notched two assists in the 4-1 win. He is on a three-game scoreless streak, so look for him to be active in front of goal, ready to pounce on any chance he can. Remember, in the regular season victory at home, Pulido scored both goals in the 2-1 victory.

Jake Davis and Logan Ndenbe are developing and solidifying their starting roles at their respective positions. Gadi Kinda is on fire and Remi Walter is as consistent as ever.

Bad News:

St. Louis is not happy and have the capacity and talent to bounce back if Peter Vermes and his squad are not at the ready to defend home turf.

Bradley Carnell will absolutely come in with a fresh gameplan and will look to force turnovers in the middle of the field and punish SKC with counterattacks. Don’t be surprised to see Gioacchini and Joao Klauss in the starting lineup. It’s all or nothing for St. Louis, so expect an inspired and attack-minded gameplan from the visitors.

The other bit of bad news for SKC is virtually not change to the injury report.

Kansas City obviously played well last game without captain Johnny Russell, but we would all be lying if we said we wouldn’t prefer him on the field.

Erik Thommy, Pulido and Davis played last week, so it’s probably a safe bet to say they will touch the field again.

Referee Assignments:

REF: Ismail Elfath
AR1: Micheal Barwegen
AR2: Lyes Arfa
4TH: Guido Gonzales Jr
VAR: Michael Radchuk
AVAR: Jonathan Johnson


I, like many others, have gone through the roller coaster of takes and emotions brought on by this whirlwind of a season. From questions about the front office and the coaching staff at the start of the season, to debating whether the tactics the team uses are too “2013” to win in today’s game.

That being said, credit is due when credit is due. I did not expect the clinic put on by Vermes and SKC in match one. If that can be replicated, there is a solid chance that we wave goodbye to St. Louis as they pull out of CMP Sunday evening.

Beating the same team over-and-over again is hard. SKC and STL have played each other four times and have split the series with two wins apiece. Granted, KC has the only road win in the series.

Don’t worry. I am not going to be the Debbie Downer as we ride high after the previous victory. I just think we need to be prepared for everything and develop a solid gameplan to get past Roman Burki and hold Klauss to making little-to-no impact again.

Sporting still have nothing to lose here and can afford to play with much more freedom as the pressure is mounting for STL. Our experience will help in a game like this.

All that being said… SKC are going to win a tight one: 3-2.

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