A couple of squads with contrasting recent fortunes go head-to-head on Saturday (7pm ET; TV: Live on TUDN), as Sporting Kansas City welcome Real Salt Lake, who have enjoyed themselves of late. The hosts will be looking to turn things around after some poor results. Let’s see how our preview sees this game with our predictions and betting picks.
It has not been the best start to the season from Sporting Kansas City, who looked as though they may be turning a corner after beating Houston Dynamo a few weeks ago, but they’ve not been able to kick on since, losing to both the Colorado Rapids and the Chicago Fire. It’s now just three points from four matches for Saturday’s hosts, who find themselves sitting in a lowly 12th position in the MLS. It’s early days, but a franchise of SKC’s magnitude will be hoping for somewhat rapid improvement.
In contrast, RSL have made a pleasing start to the campaign. Following what was a reasonably subdued performance when drawing 0-0 with the Houston Dynamo first time out, RSL have kicked on, winning three on the bounce. They have not beaten weak teams either, coming out on top against the Seattle Sounders, the New England Revolution and Nashville SC, all of whom finished inside the top three in their respective conferences last season.
Defensively, things haven’t been great, as just one clean sheet in four suggests, while they’ve also conceded two or more in three out of four, so improvements at the back certainly need to be made. However, the main reason for SKC’s early-season slump seems to be a lack of offensive power. They have scored in three out four, but Peter Vermes’ men are yet to score more than once, and a total of three goals in just four matches is hardly becoming of a side that always has its sights set on the postseason.
Creatively, things haven’t been great, so we shouldn’t necessarily lay the blame at the feet of the strikers. SKC’s first four expected goals efforts paint a rather dull picture. They have produced figures of 0.9, 1.1, 0.8 and 0.4, which isn’t good enough. What is perhaps more important, is the fact that such numbers simply don’t match up to the numbers that Saturday’s visitors are currently producing.
Capable of making things happen
Scorers of the third highest total in the Western Conference, Saturday’s visitors knew how to get the ball in the net last term, and recent form would suggest that Pablo Mastroeni’s men have retained much of that offensive ability. They have scored six goals in their last three, and have at times, posted some very encouraging expected goals numbers, creating 2.4 against the Sounders, as well as 2.7 against Bruce Arena’s New England Revolution, who ran away with the Eastern Conference last season. As things stand this time around, RSL are the fourth best team in the west in terms of xG for, averaging a solid 1.55 per 90 minutes.
Recent head-to-head record
It has been a while since SKC got the job done against RSL, and not only do Saturday’s hosts come into this fixture having won none of their last three matches against this opponent, but they’ve come off second best in each of the last three renewals of this fixture. When the pair last met at this venue, back in last season’s playoffs, the Salt Lake side won by two goals to one, coming from behind, emerging victorious thanks to a 91st minute Bobby Wood goal.
As it goes, the visitors have something of a knack of picking up positive results at Children’s Mercy Park, where they won twice in 2021, and once in 2019. You’d have to go back to 2018 to find the last time that SKC won a home renewal of this fixture, winning just one of their last five home games against Saturday’s travelers. What’s more, when the pair get down to it at this venue, there’s usually no shortage of goals, with only one of the last nine renewals of this fixture at Children’s Mercy Park containing less than three goals.
In the betting, Sporting Kansas City, as hosts, find themselves priced as rather hot favorites at odds of -120, though with the lines the way that they are, it’s easy to like the visitors. They have done little wrong over the opening weeks of the campaign, and crucially, have performed considerably better than SKC. It would be a surprise if Vermes’ men didn’t get their acts together soon, but right now, they are hard to side with.
After all, while they’ve scored three and conceded eight, Mastroeni’s men have scored six and conceded three, and it’s hard to say that they’ve not played against better opposition too. In terms of xG, the hosts currently have a rather weak average difference of -0.70. For RSL, it’s a pleasing average expected goal difference of +0.48, so at attractive odds, take the visitors, with the insurance that ‘Draw No Bet’ provides, to continue moving in the right direction. So, as for our predictions against the American bookies, this is the sole betting pick for this MLS game preview:
- Real Salt Lake Draw No Bet @ best odds of +240 with BetOnline.