Going into this weekend’s matchup between Sporting KC and the Vancouver Whitecaps, one team sits second in the Western Conference and the other rests in sixth place on the edge of playoff contention. Few people would’ve blamed you if you thought Kansas City was the team near the top and the Whitecaps were the one looking on from fifth at the start of the season, but Vancouver has quietly turned into a major contender in the West. This game provides both teams with the opportunity to leap from the club ahead of them in the standings, but who will take the chance?
This match ends a five-game road trip for the Whitecaps, and the team will be revved up for their return to BC Place. Vancouver’s record at home has been less than stellar this season as they registered just four wins in eight matches, while losing three and drawing one. The goal differential hasn’t been very favorable either as the Whitecaps have gone just +2, giving up 11 goals while scoring 13. If they hope to become serious title contenders come the final weeks of the season, Vancouver will have to establish a dominant home presence.
One player that intrigues me on the Whitecaps is 20-year-old striker Kekuta Manneh. Despite his youth, Manneh has managed to become the team’s second leading scorer with four goals. Two of those strikes have come in the last three games. His pace and nose for the goal make the young striker a danger in the penalty area. If he can find a way to show this potential against Sporting, Vancouver have a great chance of jumping to the top of the conference.
The visitors, on the other hand, are coming off one of their biggest wins of the season, a 6-2 thumping of FC Dallas in the Open Cup. In their last 10 games, Sporting have only lost once, and have won seven in that span. This great run of form put an end to a horrendous start to the season where the team struggled to snag three points in any match. It took nine weeks for the team to win just its third game, but they’ve begun to re-establish themselves as one of the elite teams in the league as of late.
When your wife wins a World Cup title, I feel like it’s only natural to feel a little pressure to put in a good performance the next time you step on the field and that’s exactly what Dom Dwyer will be hoping for against Vancouver. The Kansas City striker’s spouse, Sydney Leroux, was part of the U.S. squad that captured the hearts and minds of the nation in their historic title run. Dwyer currently sits tied for the team lead in goals with nine, and is coming off of a dominant four-goal performance against Dallas in the team’s cup match. KC will be hoping that he can keep up this amazing form as they attempt to continue their push up the table.
Being a Midwestern native, I have a soft spot for Sporting. Despite their disappointing away record (1-3-3), I believe that Kansas City’s amazing run of form makes them a threat to defeat the Whitecaps, and climb into a playoff spot. Final score will be Sporing KC 2-1 Vancouver.