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Whitecaps FC-Sporting Kansas City Preview
Saddled with a bevy of injuries, Sporting Kansas City is mired in its longest winless stretch in two seasons.
Kansas City looks to avoid that drought from reaching seven straight games Saturday night against the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps.
Sporting (2-4-4) opened the season 2-1-1, but has gone 0-3-3 since and been shut out in each of its last two contests, most recently 1-0 at D.C. United on Sunday. The winless span is Kansas City's longest since an 0-4-2 rut to end the 2017 campaign. It last went seven games without a victory the year before.
Making matters worse, SKC is dealing with injuries to some of its key performers. Defenders Graham Zusi and Andreu Fontas, midfielder Roger Espinoza and forward Daniel Salloi are just some of the players unavailable at the moment.
"I know we got a lot of guys out, but you can't think about that," forward Johnny Russell told Kansas City's official website. "We still have a squad that is good enough to go and win games. And we haven't been doing that, so that's us players (who) haven't done enough to win the games we've played. Obviously, we've gone and put ourselves in a bad spell at the minute, as well."
Sporting could have veteran defender Matt Besler back from injury as early as this weekend, when the club tries to avoid going winless in a fourth consecutive home match for the first time since 2014.
Kansas City is 5-1-1 at home against the Whitecaps (3-6-3), who have fared better following an 0-4-2 start to the season. Vancouver's 2-0-1 stretch ended with a valiant effort in a 1-0 loss against surging Atlanta on Wednesday.
Josef Martinez's goal off a penalty kick in the 29th minute was all the defending MLS champs could muster against the Whitecaps, who defended well the rest of the game but generated just seven total shots.
"The guys fought," goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau, who has made 10 saves and seen 44 overall shots in his direction over the last two matches, told the Whitecaps' official website. "(The team was) disappointed, but now we turn. There are no (heads) down ... It's a turnaround right away."
Defender Fredy Montero failed to score in a third consecutive match for Vancouver, which will try to bounce back and win back-to-back road contests for the first time since August. Montero, who scored in the Whitecaps' 3-2 win at Colorado on May 3 for their first road triumph of 2019, has never recorded a goal in eight league games versus Sporting Kansas City.
Updated May 16, 2019