Sporting Kansas City vs. Orlando, Prediction, Preview and Odds-4/23/21
Sporting Kansas City will be looking to build on a solid season-opening victory when it hosts Orlando City on Friday night. The game will be nationally televised on Fox Sports 1 as the MLS’ lone contest of the day. Sporting Kansas City picked up a 2-1 road win at New York last week, while Orlando City played its way to a scoreless draw with Atlanta.
Orlando takes to the road
Orlando City has now won all seven of its home openers as an MLS club. It will go on the road for the first time this season on Friday night. Last week’s match resulted in a solid outcome, as Orlando was able to battle its way to a scoreless draw with Atlanta United. Josef Martinez returned for Atlanta, failing to score on a .52 xG chance that would have been the game-winner. Forward Alexandre Pato was the lone newcomer in Orlando’s starting lineup. Forward Silvester van der Water also made his first appearance with the club as a late sub.
Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese was the star for Orlando. He has now had clean sheets in consecutive season-openers. Gallese held Real Salt Lake scoreless to open the 2020 campaign. He only had to make three saves against Atlanta, but they were extremely important. Orlando was not on the front foot for most of the match, finishing with just 40.5% possession. It tied Atlanta with 11 total shots, though. Orlando City’s strength is its midfield and defense, which are among the best in the MLS. It lacks some finishing prowess, but the defense should keep it engaged in every match it plays.
KC looking to repeat last season
Sporting Kansas City won the Western Conference last season and is looking to repeat in 2021. It went 12-6-3 and had a plus-13 goal differential, getting eliminated by Minnesota United in the semifinals of the MLS Cup Playoffs. Manager Peter Vermes returns all of his key attackers from last season and he also bolstered the defense in the offseason. Kansas City got off to a great start this year, using goals in back-to-back minutes of the second half to pick up a 2-1 win over New York last week. Gadi Kinda and Daniel Salloi scored the goals in what was the first time Sporting KC has notched goals in back-to-back minutes since 2007.
The Red Bulls had gone 7-2-1 in their previous 10 home openers, so it was a nice win for the road side. Salloi was named to the MLS Team of the Week bench for his game-winning goal. Kansas City has struggled against Orlando over the last few years, going 2-3-1. The Lions have won both of the last two meetings. Sporting Kansas City has an excellent attack, but its defense is not nearly as good as Orlando’s. The playoff loss to Minnesota led to some offseason changes that they are hoping will fix some of those issues.
Side: (Orlando City +0.5)
I think there is a lot of value to be had in this match. Orlando City has one of the best midfields/defenses in the MLS—one that will keep it engaged in every match it plays. Kansas City has some holes in its defense, which will allow Orlando City’s attackers to score a crucial goal or two on Friday night. The visitors have had a lot of success against Kansas City over the last few seasons, so that should give them confidence in this match. Kansas City is also coming off an emotional win, which is always a nice spot to fade.
Total (Over 2.75)
The totals are lower across the board this week after a low-scoring opening week. I think there is an overreaction in the betting marketplace to a pretty predictable slow start to the season. Kansas City has one of the best attacking offenses in the MLS and is generally good for a few goals in every match. Orlando has a star-studded midfield that will put its attackers in good positions to score a few goals against a questionable defense in this match. Both teams knocked the rust off last week and should get over this low total on Friday.