Sporting Kansas City have had a poor start to the season by their standards, but Nashville SC coach Gary Smith knows the size of the challenge for his team.

Kansas City sit 11th in the Western Conference having lost four of their opening six games in 2022.

Nashville, who are yet to play a home game this season, starting it with eight successive road matches, have taken seven points from 15 on offer so far ahead of Saturday’s meeting.

“I keep looking at each weekend and hoping that one of these games I look at in this long eight-game stretch and go ‘you know what, this might not be too bad,'” Smith said. “Haven’t found one yet. So we’ll just keep digging away.”

“Sporting KC is one of the most consistently good teams in MLS. This team, whilst a couple of their away performances have been tough and they’ve lost by the odd goal, is very capable. They always find a way. They are missing two very good attacking players in Pulido and (Gadi) Kinda. If you look at the guys coming in, it would be extremely naive of me or any of the players to expect anything other than an incredibly tough game.”

Sporting lost 1-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps last time out, leaving Peter Vermes to lament wasteful finishing.

“The only thing that was lacking was goals. Our game plan was good. We took advantage of the things that we talked about, we actually did,” Vermes said.

“We just need to score the chances that we had. We had some very good chance that we either didn’t execute on the final shot in a good technical way or we just were too slow in the trigger. What we lacked tonight was scoring goals, that’s the bottom line.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Sporting Kansas City – Remi Walter

Remi Walter created a team-high two chances for Sporting in the defeat to Vancouver, while registering an impressive 90.2 percent passing accuracy.

Nashville SC – Hany Mukhtar

Dating back to the end of last season, including playoffs, Hany Mukhtar has been involved in eight of Nashville’s last 10 goals (five goals, three assists).

KEY OPTA FACTS

– This will be the second meeting between Sporting Kansas City and Nashville SC, with Sporting winning the first one 2-1 in Kansas City in October 2020. Gerso and Erik Hurtado scored for Sporting after Walker Zimmerman had put Nashville ahead in the 15th minute.

– Sporting have lost four of its first six games of a season for the first time since 2011. Sporting’s six points through six games is also the worst for the club since 2011 when they had four points at this stage.

– Nashville ended a two-match losing streak with a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday. Only matches involving the Chicago Fire have seen fewer total goals (six) than matches involving Nashville (nine) in 2022.

– Including last season’s playoffs, Sporting have failed to score more than one goal in seven consecutive matches.

– It is the longest streak without a multi-goal game for Sporting since a run of eight straight in June-August 2010, the first full season under Vermes.