Sporting Kansas City Vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Match Preview

Posted In Match Previews and Reviews - By Joey Samuel On Friday, June 17th, 2011 With 0 Comments

On the latest installment of FOX’s “Soccer Night in America,” two teams that seem to be going in the right direction meet in hopes of continuing their solid run of form. Kansas City, fresh off opening their beautiful new stadium with a scoreless draw with the Chicago Fire, earned a surprising yet valuable 4-1 win on the road against FC Dallas. San Jose is on a six-match unbeaten streak, and also earned an impressive road win last week, 4-2 over DC United.

Like many teams around the league, the two clubs are missing players due to international call-ups to the Gold Cup. Kansas City is missing Honduras’s Roger Espinoza, who is usually the team’s starting left back, as well as Shavar Thomas of Jamaica, who is a spot starter at center back. San Jose is without strikers Ryan Johnson, who has scored 2 goals in the tournament with Jamaica, and Chris Wondolowski, who started the United States’ last game against Guadeloupe.

Also, Kansas City could be without attacking midfielder Omar Bravo, who is listed as “questionable.” Defender Ike Opara is listed as “doubtful” for the Earthquakes.

Sporting started the season by winning their first game, but then earned one point from their next seven games as part of a 10-game road trip. They seemed to improve by drawing the last two games of the road trip before opening Livestrong Sporting Park with another draw. But last week’s 4-1 away win over Dallas was probably their best performance of the season. They now find themselves with 10 points from 12 games, but they have much room for improvement, as a staggering 16 of their remaining 22 games are at home.

San Jose also started the season on the wrong foot, earning just five points from their first seven games. Since then, they have won four and drawn two in their last six games, moving up to sixth in the Western Conference with 19 points from 13 games. Striker Steven Lenhart has been on fire, stepping up in a big way in Johnson’s and Wondolowski’s absences. He has four goals in the team’s past two games, including a hat trick in the 4-2 win over DC United.

Kansas City Player to Watch: Teal Bunbury. The American international striker was left out of the Gold Cup squad, and last week was also left out of Sporting’s starting lineup. He came off the bench in the 4-1 win over Dallas. It may have been a decision by coach Peter Vermes due to the fact that the team played two games in one week, or it may have been Vermes trying a new lineup. It remains to be seen, but the lineup that Vermes comes out with Friday night will be tell-tale. Bunbury is a wonderful talent that deserves to be starting on this team.

San Jose Player to Watch: Steven Lenhart. This one is almost too easy to pick. Lenhart has blossomed in the system San Jose have had to use without Johnson and Wondolowski. They will need Lenhart to continue putting the ball in the net it they are to get a result in this game.

Prediction: SKC win, 2-1. Sporting Kansas City get a second chance to win at their new stadium on national television, and they won’t blow it this time. San Jose’s six-game unbeaten run comes to an end.

About Joey Samuel - Joey Samuel is an editor of The Allocation Order. He is also an editor at The Brotherly Game, SB Nation's Philadelphia Union blog. Follow him on twitter @joeysamuel.

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