Peter Vermes’s Sporting Kansas City and Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy will meet in a home-and-home this season. Sporting, ranked No. 10 in the View’s Preseason Power Rankings, and the Los Angeles Galaxy clash on Apr. 18 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. (7:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m, CT/10:30 p.m. ET) and Oct. 25 at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. (4 p.m. PT/6 p.m. CT/7 p.m. ET).
Luis Marin is slated to be the projected starter at goalkeeper. The 31-year old Chilean international hails from Universidad de Chile after 12 years in the professional ranks in his native homeland. Jon Kempin, whose star rose at USL affiliate Oklahoma City Energy FC, started three of four games at goalkeeper for Sporting and is expected to be the backup. Tim Melia comes from Chivas USA and will most likely be assigned to OKC to get some playing time.
Matt Besler, Kevin Ellis, Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic anchor Sporting Kansas City’s back line. Last season, Besler started all 24 of his appearances in the back, while Sinovic started all 31 of his appearances for Sporting. In 2014, Ellis started 16 of 20 contests for Sporting KC, recording three assists. Now in his eighth year with the club, Chance Myers will look to gain more playing time after just starting seven league matches due to a left Achilles tear.
Other players on the Sporting defense will look to contribute in their own way to the team. Ike Opara only appeared in three matches for Sporting and could be loaned out to the Energy if he doesn’t break through with the first team. The same can be said of third-year player Erik Palmer-Brown, who only appeared in three matches for the club in 2014. Jalil Anibaba comes from the Seattle Sounders and has appeared in 16 league matches for Seattle. Former Akron Zip Saad Abdul-Salaam is the 12th overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft and could use the Energy as a proving ground for a call-up.
Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber anchor a strong Sporting Kansas City midfield. This is Espinoza’s second stint with the club, having already spent five seasons with Sporting, recording 113 appearances, two goals and 11 assists. Zusi is one of the franchise players for Sporting, having recorded 148 appearances, 22 goals and 39 assists in a career dating back to 2009. 2015 will be the third season for Feilhaber. Last year, he started 30 of 31 appearances, recording four goals and six assists.
Other key contributors in the midfield will push for minutes, the most notable being longtime veteran Paulo Nagamura. Last season, Nagamura started 21 matches, recording two goals and three assists. Bernardo Anor comes from the Columbus Crew, having started 18 of 27 games, recording six goals and an assist last season for the Massive. James Marcelin was used primarily as a super sub for FC Dallas in 2014, while Servando Carrasco comes from the Houston Dynamo and has appeared in 60 league matches for Seattle and Houston. Soni Mustival, a French-born Haitian international, comes from Romania’s Petrolul Ploieisti and brings a defensive presence.
A number of fringe players are slated to possibly season up at OKC Energy. Mikey Lopez started five of eight games for Sporting last season and this will be his third year with the club. Jimmy Medranda started just one match and appeared in five games in 2015. Honduran international Jorge Claros started four of seven appearances for Sporting, while Connor Hallisey is the 10th overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft out of Cal.
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Sporting may only have three forwards, but all have a nose for goal. Jacob Peterson started 13 of 22 matches for Sporting last year, recording two goals and two assists, while Krisztian Nemeth comes from Eredivisie side Roda JC Kerkrade, recording eight goals and six assists last season. However, everybody that watches Sporting expects Dom Dwyer to score and score often. The man that made in-game selfies a thing in MLS, Dwyner started 31 of 33 games in league play in 2014, scoring a team-high 22 goals. Dwyer can’t do it along, though, and he will hope that the rest of the team can carry the weight of this season’s MLS campaign as well.