MLS

Columbus Crew v Sporting Kansas City: Vermes looking to improve 'soft' defending

By Sports Desk June 21, 2024

Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes wants to see a better defensive display when they travel to Columbus Crew in the MLS on Saturday.

Sporting KC sit second from bottom in the Western Conference, having won just three of their 19 games so far.

After back-to-back losses to LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake in which they conceded four goals in both, Vermes admitted they needed to rectify the situation as soon as possible.

"I can't deny the fight of the guys, but defensively, it's too soft," he said. "Unfortunately, it's similar to what happens in a lot of games.

"We can be fighting back in a game and give away a nothing goal. There's a ton of chances that could put us way ahead, but we can't be giving up the goals that we give up. That's it; that's the game."

Columbus, meanwhile, are right in the mix in the Eastern Conference, sitting sixth with 27 points.

A 2-1 defeat to Inter Miami snapped their four-match winning streak in the MLS, but head coach Wilfried Nancy is confident they can quickly put that result behind them.

"It has been good games, good performances," head coach Wilfried Nancy said. "[The last game] was also a good performance, but we were not good at certain moments. This is again something that we did well. We have grown a lot regarding these kinds of games."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Columbus Crew – Cucho Hernandez

Cucho attempted 10 shots in the Crew's defeat to Inter Miami on Wednesday, his third game with at least 10 shots since making his MLS debut in July 2022.

All other players in MLS have three total games with 10+ shots in that time (Raul Ruidiaz, Hany Mukhtar, Julian Carranza, one each).

Sporting Kansas City – William Agada

Agada scored two of Kansas City's three goals on Wednesday, his fifth multi-goal match for Sporting. Only five players have recorded more multi-goal games in the team's history.

MATCH PREDICTION: COLUMBUS CREW WIN

This will be the Crew's first regular-season home match since losing to FC Cincinnati on May 11. Columbus are winless in four straight MLS home matches after winning 12 of their previous 14 home league games.

Kansas City have lost nine of their last 10 regular-season matches (W1), including losing six in a row on the road in league play. This is the first time in the post-shootout era (since 2000) that Sporting have lost nine times in a span of 10 such matches.

However, Kansas City have lost just one of their last 12 matches against Columbus (W7 D4) dating back to October 2012, though three of the last four meetings have ended in draws. This will be the first meeting between the sides in Columbus in one day short of five years (June 23, 2019).

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Columbus Crew – 64.2%

Draw – 19.1%

Sporting Kansas City – 16.7%

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