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Major League Soccer
Jun 11, 2023 at 1.30am UK
Children's Mercy Park

4 - 1

Pulido (19', 57'), Castellanos (47'), Shelton (89')
Radoja (61'), Thommy (87')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Driussi (61')
Cascante (52'), Zardes (60')

Preview: Sporting Kansas City vs. Austin FC - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Sporting Kansas City vs. Austin FC - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Major League Soccer clash between Sporting Kansas City and Austin FC, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Separated by two points in the MLS Western Conference standings, Sporting Kansas City and Austin FC meet at Children's Mercy Park on Saturday.

KC have taken seven points from the last nine available to inch up the table, and they could now leapfrog their visitors by beating them for the first time since 2021.

Match preview

Three days after seeing off Dallas on home soil, Sporting Kansas City drew 1-1 with Vancouver Whitecaps last time out, to continue their improved form of late.

Coach Peter Vermes has led his team away from the foot of the Western Conference by claiming at least a point from six of their last seven MLS matches, and they now sit 12th in the standings.

Alan Pulido scored his second league goal of the season in Canada, to help the Kansas club extend their unbeaten run to three matches; nodding the visitors ahead in the 20th minute. However, with the clock ticking down, Ryan Gauld's late penalty rescued a draw for the Whitecaps.

Nonetheless, since the start of May, KC have posted a Conference-leading 14 points, and as a result are only two points shy of a playoff place as things stand - though they have played at least one more game than several clubs around them.

As each of the next four Saturday nights will see Sporting play host, they now seek to start that sequence with an overdue victory against Austin, to whom they have lost in each of the teams' last three meetings by an aggregate scoreline of 9-4.

In addition to a 4-3 victory when they last met Kansas back home in Texas, Austin were 2-0 winners on their most recent visit to Children's Mercy Park, in July of last year.

More recently, though, Josh Wolff's men suffered a third defeat from four matches when they fell to a 2-1 home loss against Real Salt Lake last week at Q2 Stadium.

A weather delay paused the encounter in its 40th minute, until play finally resumed two hours later, but Austin ultimately had only Julio Cascante's stoppage-time consolation strike to show for their efforts.

Following a US Open Cup exit to Chicago Fire last month, Los Verdes have since been beaten twice in MLS, to slip down to eighth in the Western Conference pecking order.

That would still be good enough for a playoff place come the regular season's conclusion, but with competition particularly tough in a congested part of the table, they cannot afford to let Sporting surpass them this weekend.

Sporting Kansas City Major League Soccer form:

Austin FC Major League Soccer form:

Team News

After rotating his squad last week, at the end of a three-game stretch in the space of seven days, Sporting coach Peter Vermes could make more changes on Saturday - including an enforced one.

Logan Ndenbe was withdrawn just before half time with a leg injury in Vancouver, so fellow left-back Tim Leibold may have to deputise against Austin.

In addition, Johnny Russell has been sidelined by a hamstring problem, while Graham Zusi and Kayden Pierre (both also hamstring) join Willy Agada (leg), Kortne Ford (Achilles) and goalkeeper Tim Melia (quad) on the hosts' absence list.

Meanwhile, Austin coach Josh Wolff has confirmed that Finnish centre-back Leo Vaisanen is set to sit out two months after suffering a knee injury in the US Open Cup defeat to Chicago.

A goalscorer in last week's loss, Julio Cascante should therefore continue to helm the visitors' defence, with Alex Ring again dropping back from midfield to fill in for Vaisanen.

Up front, Gyasi Zardes recently scored for a third straight game to become just the 13th player in MLS history to reach 100 regular-season goals, and he could now return to Wolff's starting XI after being an unused substitute last weekend.

Sporting Kansas City possible starting lineup:
McIntosh; Davis, Castellanos, Fontas, Leibold; Thommy, Radoja, Kinda; Salloi, Pulido, Shelton

Austin FC possible starting lineup:
Stuver; Lima, Cascante, Ring; Gallagher, Djeffal, Pereira, Lundqvist; Finlay, Zardes, Driussi

We say: Sporting Kansas City 1-0 Austin FC

Enjoying by far their best form of the season, Sporting Kansas City can ride the momentum of recent wins and take maximum points on home turf: Austin have conceded goals in each of their last four matches and have proved particularly vulnerable on the road.

How to watch

You can watch Sporting Kansas City vs. Austin FC and every MLS match this season live on Apple TV. Click here for more details on how to subscribe.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
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