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This is a game with a bit of hope on the line. Both sides look highly unlikely to make the playoffs with San Jose Earthquakes sitting in 12th place and Sporting Kansas City in 14th place in the Western Conference standings, but a win for either team here could just give them an outside chance. The two sides have met each other 27 times with the San Jose Earthquakes coming out on top 14 times, Sporting Kansas City winning eight times and five matches ending in a draw.
Despite being last on the Western Conference table and having a poor head to head record, Sporting Kansas City’s firepower up front in recent weeks should give them a slight edge heading into this match. They’ve strangely got the momentum in this one.
The last game between the two sides took place back in May and just like their game in the previous year, it ended in a 1-1 draw. The two sides scored their goals within seconds of each other. Johnny Russell opened the scoring for Sporting Kansas City in the 45th minute before Jackson Yueill got one a minute later.
Kansas City might’ve been frustrated with that outcome but San Jose had every right to feel like they should’ve won this match. They had 63 percent of the possession, took 18 shots and got five on target. The finishing just wasn’t right on the day and they’ll be hoping to make that right in the upcoming game.
It’s remarkable how quickly things can change in football and in the MLS. Sporting Kansas City are still last in the league but had one of their best performances of the season against the Portland Timbers, beating them 4-1 to make way for a potential fairytale end to the regular season. William Agada will take all the headlines and we’ll cover him in detail soon. He scored two on the day and has changed the fortunes of this side.
Just as impressive was the opponent they had to get past, with the Timbers having been on a 10-run unbeaten streak not too long ago.
Scotsman, Johnny Russell, was carrying the team for most of the season but doesn’t have to any longer because William Agada has scored five in five. He scored his second brace since joining the side and they’ve suddenly got one of the most potent attacks in the league.
Agada, the 22-year-old Nigerian forward, has also hit these goals at a fairly sustainable rate with an expected goal value of 3.6. This was a side that just couldn’t find the back of the net, relying on a wider player for most of their goals and it has all changed, with them scoring 11 in the last three. They’ve now got 30 goals for the season, which goes to show just how bad it had been prior to that.
Having a threat up top also helps the defense. Attack is the best form of defense is a football adage that’s been proven true over the years. Teams simply have less defending to do when attackers pin the opposition defense. Sporting Kansas City had been a bit leaky in the games prior to the one against the Timbers but looked a lot more compact in this one and only conceded a goal in the 90th minute. If they can keep this up, something magical might just be on the corner.
San Jose Earthquakes have got their own great narrative heading into this match, beating table toppers Los Angeles FC, who were on a seven-game winning run to settle into 12th place. They didn’t need Jeremy Ebobisse to get on the scoresheet this time either, with Cade Cowell and Benjamin Kikanovic finding the net to give them a 2-1 win.
Giorgio Chiellini and Gareth Bale weren’t playing in this one but the win was no less impressive and will give the Earthquakes a huge boost heading into this match.
Concession of goals has been the problem for the San Jose Earthquakes all season. Even when they win games, they simply can’t keep a clean sheet. The expected goals against and raw goals against numbers tell the whole story with 48.9 for the former and 54 for the latter.
Against a side that has now upped its attacking game, it’s hard to see them holding out for 90 minutes. It’s even harder to see that away from home and it could get ugly quite quickly if they don’t find some solutions. Damage limitation has got to be the order of the day.
Jeremy Ebobisse has been exemplary this season. Scoring 14 goals for a side like the San Jose Earthquakes is quite remarkable. They’ve been quite free-scoring this season to their credit but it can’t be easy to score so many for a side that’s dallying towards the bottom of the table. This should be an exciting match between two sides who still haven’t got the balance right but have a lot of options going forward.
Defensive midfielder George Asomani has been out since February with a hip injury. There’s no expected return date for the time being.
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|Teams||Sporting Kansas City vs San Jose Earthquakes|
|Location||Children’s Mercy Park|
|Time||Saturday, 27 August at 8.30 pm ET onwards|
|How to watch||ESPN+, DAZN, 38 The Spot and NBC Sports Bay Arena|
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Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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