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The first title-defending campaign of Los Angeles FC got off to a near-perfect start as the club lost just one out of their opening ten MLS games this season. At this juncture, they are still amongst the top contenders to go all the way this season. But a rough patch has affected them a lot lately. Across all competitions, Los Angeles FC have failed to win any of their last six matches, due to which they have been eliminated from two cup competitions.
Meanwhile, their opponents are experiencing a completely opposite feeling. Sporting Kansas City have lost just one out of their last five MLS games. After losing against St. Louis City SC last month, the club won two back-to-back games for the first time this season. The wins came against Portland Timbers and FC Dallas. Sporting Kansas City were held to a draw against Vancouver Whitecaps before the side returned to winning ways against Austin FC last weekend.
The clash between these two clubs will be mercurial. Even the odds are barely able to separate the two sides. If the defending champions regain their lost form, they can nab all three points. But if they falter, Sporting Kansas City will be there to capitalize on the situation.
Apart from the odds, even the history books are unable to separate these two sides and name an outright favorite. Including last month's reverse fixture, the two sides have clashed ten times in the MLS. The defending champions have won half of those games, while Sporting Kansas City have clinched all three points on four occasions.
Lately, Los Angeles FC have enjoyed a better run in this fixture. Last month, the draw at the BMO Stadium ensured that Los Angeles FC had not lost to Sporting Kansas City in four MLS encounters. Sporting Kansas City’s last win over Los Angeles FC came in the 2021 MLS season when they won 4-1 on hostile territory.
The hosts do not have much of a home advantage in this fixture because out of four MLS games that were played in their backyard, they have won two, and Los Angeles FC have won the other two. The last time these two teams clashed at the Children’s Mercy Park, the defending champions waltzed away with a comfortable 2-0 win.
Sporting Kansas City are coming into this game after dodging defeat in four of their last five games. The hosts have lost just one out of their last seven MLS games and are in top form. Now, they are setting themselves up to face the two teams from Los Angeles in quick succession.
After hosting a troubled Los Angeles FC side, Sporting Kansas City will visit struggling LA Galaxy four days later. Positive results in both these encounters will enable Sporting Kansas City to consolidate their position in the playoff qualification spots.
A hefty chunk of the season is still left, and a lot more position changes are expected till the final day, but two more positive results for Sporting Kansas City at this juncture will see them gain much-needed momentum.
Sporting Kansas City were either at the bottom of the table or hovering near it after the first ten games of the season. They scored nine goals in the first 12 games of the campaign, averaging less than a goal per game.
However, a turn of fortune recently has seen them score 11 goals in the last four games. Their goal-scoring average has jumped from 0.75 to 2.75 goals per match over the past couple of weeks, which has been quite promising for the club.
While scoring goals has not been an issue lately for Sporting Kansas City, their defense has allowed the opponent to score at least once. Due to this, the club has not kept a single clean sheet in the past six games. Their last shutout came in the middle of May against Minnesota United.
Overall, they have only kept four clean sheets in 18 games. To make matters worse, Sporting Kansas City could also be without defenders Andreu Fontas and Daniel Rosero as the duo suffers from a Hamstring niggle.
Considering all competitions, Los Angeles FC are on a six-game winless streak. Of those six games, only one ended in a draw, and the rest were all disappointing losses. It all started with the elimination from the US Open Cup that happened against rivals LA Galaxy.
The defending MLS champions were one step away from their maiden CONCACAF Champions League title, but they lost both legs of the final against Liga MX side Club Leon. Circumstances did not change in the MLS as they were held to a goalless draw against Atlanta United before suffering back-to-back defeats against Houston Dynamo FC.
In such poor form, facing a high-flying Sporting Kansas City side will be tricky, but Los Angeles FC will throw everything they have got to end an abysmal run.
Not only have the defending champions lost a flurry of games over the past few weeks, but they have also failed to score in almost all of them. In the last six games in all competitions, Los Angeles FC have scored just one goal.
That solitary strike came in the Champions League final first leg against Club Leon. In the MLS, the poor form continued last weekend as Los Angeles FC come into this game after scoring no goals in the last three MLS encounters.
After coming on as a half-time substitute in the last match against Houston Dynamo FC, Kwadwo Opoku was shown a red card for a cynical challenge. The winger, who has scored twice this season, will serve his suspension in the game against Sporting Kansas City.
Apart from that, the defending champions will be without midfielder Timothy Tillman who suffered a muscle injury during the Champions League final. Right-back Sergi Palencia is also out with a similar injury.
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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