Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Win and We're In

Tomorrow out at the Blue Valley District Athletic Complex, Sporting Kansas City continue their work to qualify for the 2011 US Open Cup proper. The opponent tomorrow will be the New England Revolution who made it here by defeating DC United 3-2 in their qualifier. Like KC, this game is sandwiched between two games for New England. They were out in San Jose this past weekend and are home against the Galaxy this coming weekend. Word out of the New England area is that the Revs are sending a "reserve heavy" squad to the game. That could certainly give KC a boost for the game and their attempts to qualify for the competition. I wouldn't expect the likes of Sharlie Joseph, Benny Feilhaber, or Matt Reis to travel, but last rounds hero, Kheli Dube I'd expect to get a start for the Revs.

On the other hand, KC seems like they could put out a lineup that contains more starters. The main reason why I believe KC will put out more starters is because of their schedule the rest of the week. With a game on the weekend against Colorado, Sporting is set to have Thursday the 26th off. If the team isn't planning on playing a decent number of starters, you'd think that the first team would be practicing a bit that day in preparations for the Rapids. I'm sure we'll see a few reserves making starts for KC tomorrow, but it certainly won't be a full reserve squad out on the field for KC tomorrow.

If KC does plan a few starters, it could certainly be seen as a morale boosting game for KC which is not winless in 5 straight league games. At this point a win would do wonders for not just the players and coaches heading into the last 3 games of the road trip, but for the fans as well, many of whom have become disenfranchised over the past few games, even with a better performance against Seattle (the best 90 minutes of the season according to Vermes). KC got to this "win and you're in" game by defeating the Houston Dynamo back in April 1-0 in extra time. CJ Sapong was the hero in that game scoring the winner about half way through the first period of extra time.

My uneducated guess at a lineup of mixed starters and reserves.

Sassano - Cesar - Besler - Sinovic
Zusi - Diop - Stojcev
Myers - Bunbury - Sapong

Number to Remember - 1 - That's the number of losses that KC has in competitive games at BVDAC in 5 games there. That loss came in 2001, a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire on a 90th minute Hristo Stoichkov goal. It's also the number of Open Cup titles that KC and New England have each one (KC in 2004 and New England in 2007). Outside that both teams have struggled in the Open Cup, as both teams are under .500 if you take away their runs to the Open Cup title. Neither team made it out of qualification last year.

Key match up - Teal Bunbury vs New England central defense - With Bunbury being left off the US Gold Cup roster, you'd hope that Bunbury would come into this game with a chip on his shoulder, should he play. It'd be nice to see him get back on the scorers sheet to help KC get into the Open Cup proper.

PREDICTION - This game could potentially mean a lot for KC. A win here could be grabbed upon as a turnaround point of the season. As a time when KC leaves the struggles of the first 8 games of the road trip behind and makes a move up the table. Or it could just be another disappointment in a string of disappointments for KC that has been happening for much of the season so far. Depending on who New England travels it could be a game that most fans expect to win, especially if KC puts out the half starters, half reserve lineup that is being predicted. I actually feel good about this game, but it certainly won't be easy.

KC - 2 (Sapong, Myers)
NE - 1 (Dube)

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