These two teams have a history together unlike most teams in the league. Sporting KC had an affiliation agreement with Orlando before they joined as an expansion franchise in 2015. SKC used to loan players down to the USL, including guys like Kevin Ellis and C.J. Sapong. Perhaps the most intriguing loan was a man by the name of Dom Dwyer. Dwyer led Orlando City to the USL Championship, scoring an incredible four goals in the match.
Fast forward to 2017, and now these two clubs are both sitting in 2nd place respectively in their conference ahead of Saturday’s match. In their last meeting, Sporting came away with a hard fought 2-1 victory. Both clubs are looking to bounce back after a loss in their last game, trying to remain in a good position in the conference standings.
The Lions have lost two road games in a four-day stretch for the first time this season. They were completely crushed in a 4-0 defeat at the hands of the Houston Dynamo on Saturday. Hopes remain high after week off and a chance to play in front of their home fans, where they have yet to lose a game this season.
Important starters for Orlando should be very well rested for this match. Jonathan Spector had been dealing with an ankle injury and was allowed to rest against Houston, and Kaká came on as a substitute in that match as well. Tommy Redding, however, won’t be available for the club through at least the end of the month after leaving to join the United States U-20 team in Japan in preparation for the U-20 World Cup that will commence later this month in South Korea.
Sporting Kansas City
One of the most glaring concerns for the club going into Saturday’s game is the suspension of forward Dom Dwyer. He recorded his fifth yellow card against Minnesota last week, thus earning him the suspension. It’s likely that Soony Saad will replace him in that striking role at the top of the formation.
With Graham Zusi now locked in at the right back position, it has given the offense the chance to open up more due to the fact that he can bring the ball up and send goal-scoring chances into the box. Midfielder Benny Fielhaber is still very much a threat, in part because of his long shot ability as well as his knack for picking out great passes.
This will certainly be a tough test for SKC. Their only two losses have come on the road, and Orlando’s faithful have made it quite a fortress. Although its improved recently, the offense has still struggled to score goals, and losing Dom Dwyer does the club no favors. They may have to hunker down and try to steal a point on the road at best.