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The MLS break started with a disappointing three-game winless run for Sporting Kansas City. However, after the resumption of the league season, the club has been in superb form, winning three out of four games.
In the first MLS game after the break, Sporting KC beat San Jose Earthquakes 3-0. The club secured a second successive victory after beating Western Conference leaders St. Louis City SC 2-1. The team failed to notch three wins in a row as they faced a narrow defeat against Inter Miami but bounced back in the last match with a 1-0 win against Minnesota United.
Nashville SC will be back in action after almost three weeks and will be aiming to end their six-game winless streak in the MLS. After losing the 2023 Leagues Cup final, the club has played just three league games and has failed to win all three.
They were on the receiving end of a 4-0 thrashing against Atlanta United before securing two back-to-back draws against Inter Miami and Charlotte FC. Nashville SC were among the top three teams in the Eastern Conference at one point this season, but they are now seventh and are only five points clear of the last playoff qualification spot.
It seems like Nashville SC will have to wait a little longer to end their winless run because Sporting KC have been clinical after the break. Hovering right outside the playoff qualification spot, the resurgent hosts will be looking to enter the playoffs this season and are favorites to clinch all three points.
There is not a lot of history between these two clubs as they have only met each other thrice in the MLS. Sporting KC have won on two occasions and Nashville SC have nabbed a win as there have been no draws in this fixture yet.
The two clubs met in the MLS Is Back tournament of 2020. Walker Zimmerman gave Nashville SC the lead before goals from Gerso Fernandez and Erik Hurtado turned the game on its head and gave Sporting KC a crucial win.
The second and third meetings between these two sides came last season. At the Children’s Mercy Park, the game started with a missed penalty from Hany Mukhtar. Remi Walter eventually put the hosts in front before David Romney and Charles Sapong turned it around for the visitors.
In the reverse fixture at Geodis Park, Felipe Hernandez and Graham Zusi gave the visitors a two-goal lead before Ake Arnaud Loba pulled one back for the visitors. The scoreline remained unchanged till the end as the visitors avenged their loss.
There is no room for error for Sporting KC as they are just one point away from the final playoff qualification spot of the Western Conference with five games to go. They cannot afford any slip-ups as FC Dallas and Austin FC are also eyeing the same spot.
FC Dallas are level on points with Sporting KC with two games in hand, while Austin FC are two points off the two teams with a game in hand. This will put additional pressure on Sporting KC and nothing less than a win would make things better for them.
The hosts are well aware of the situation they are in and their desire was evident in the last match when they edged past Minnesota United after Gadi Kinda’s 84th-minute winner.
This season, Sporting KC have got the better of multiple unpredictable teams. They have beaten San Jose Earthquakes, Western Conference leaders St. Louis City SC, and Minnesota United in the last match.
Nashville SC is another mercurial side that has shocked a few title contenders and faltered against a few underdogs. This is something Sporting KC will look to capitalize on in the next match.
Alan Pulido is the club’s leading goalscorer in the MLS this season with 13 goals in 24 appearances. The 32-year-old has scored three goals in the last three games, but fired a blank against Minnesota United.
However, the goalscoring onus is not entirely on the Mexican. Daniel Salloi and Johnny Russel have been a menace for opposition full-backs down the flanks. The attacking trio will be hard to stop for the Nashville SC defense.
After being away from the pitch for almost three weeks, Nashville SC will return to play an MLS game. The break may have come at the right time as the club got enough time to reassess their situation as the league phase approaches its end.
Nashville SC are desperate to end their six-game winless streak and retain a playoff qualification spot. To make matters worse, their recent away record has been quite shabby as they have not won any of their last seven away games in the league.
Their last away win of the league season came at the beginning of June in Dallas. Now the club is eager to end these dismal streaks.
Nashville SC have only scored two goals in the last six matches as one of their key players, Mukhtar is chasing his second successive MLS Golden Boot award. The striker has scored 14 goals and nabbed seven assists in 27 appearances so far.
As things stand, he is tied with Atlanta United’s Georgis Giakoumakis and Los Angeles FC’s Denis Bouanga for the top spot. His next opponent, Pulido, is only a goal behind him and could overtake the German with a scintillating performance in the next match.
Teal Bunbury has not been a prolific figure in the Nashville SC squad. The 33-year-old would have loved to play and get his third goal of the season against his former club, but unfortunately, the striker picked up his sixth booking of the season in the previous match and will be suspended for the next game.
Amidst the rising concerns in the final third, Bunbury’s absence could add a little more pressure on the coach and the team. However, the side is expected to come out all guns blazing and give it their all against Sporting KC.
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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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