Friday, September 16, 2011

Back on the Road

After spending the last two months at home, Sporting KC goes back onto the road where they'll take on the surging Real Salt Lake. RSL has won their last 3 games, two of which were on the road. Last week they defeated Seattle in Seattle 2-1 thanks to an own goal and a goal by Alvaro Saborio. Salt Lake is currently ranked 4th in the very strong West and in place to have to play a wild card game in the playoffs if they started tomorrow. So Salt Lake will be looking to push themselves into one of the West's top 3 spots. With a few games in hand on the rest of the West RSL should be able to bridge that gap fairly well.

KC comes into the game looking to move themselves back into a tie for first, or into first place outright with a win over RSL. The team is probably the healthiest they've been in a long time, but they could be without one of their key players for the game tomorrow. Right back, Chance Myers is listed on the latest injury report as doubtful with a foot contusion. If Myers can't go, it's a big hit for KC, especially with how Myers has played for the Wizards so far this season. In his place KC has some options, the team could play Michael Harrington or Aurelien Collin there. Harrington hasn't had the best season, after a breakout year last year, but I'd prefer him in that position compared to Collin. Collin looked out of place on the right wing for Sporting KC. While Collin played there with previous teams I think the dynamics of MLS make it a harder position for him to play in MLS.

The bigger overall question, is how Peter Vermes is going to play this game. Is he going to continue the high pressure that has become a staple of KC's game for most of the home stand. Or does he switch to a bit more conservative approach that KC has played their last few road games? If they want to go more conservative I could see Collin dropping in at center back with Julio Cesar moving to the midfield with Jeferson dropping to the bench. There are plenty of other questions to ask about the lineup, like who, if anyone, moves to the bench for Kei Kamara to come back into the starting lineup?

Collin - Cesar - Besler - Sinovic
Espinoza - Zusi - Arnaud
Kamara - Bunbury - Bravo

Number to Remember - 3 - Currently the playoff line looks like it will be 43 points, that is 3 points more than the team currently has. If that line holds KC would only need 1 more win to be able to make it's way back to the playoffs. If the team doesn't want a wild card spot, they'll obviously need more than that, but 3 would be big in getting KC closer to the playoffs.

Key Match Up - Kei Kamara and Omar Bravo vs RSL wingbacks - Potential starters, Chris Wingert and Tony Beltran are not going to be playing tomorrow due to injury and suspension respectively. That leaves Robbie Russell as the main wingback. Against Seattle center back Chris Schuler filled in after Beltran was red carded. So it would seem that KC would do well to attack the wings of RSL tomorrow night.

But that is only 1 of many potential key match ups. Another one is Graham Zusi vs Kyle Beckerman as well as Teal Bunbury/CJ Sapong vs Borchers and Olave, I think RSL could be susceptible to the same type of balls that saw Bunbury get a brace against Houston.

PREDICTION - This game isn't a must win, but it's a huge game for both teams heading into the final few games of the season. Both teams are playing extremely well right now. The key is how KC will adjust to playing on the road again after spending so much time at home. This game is going to be extremely tight I think both teams are going to try to open the game, neither team is going to be able to pull away in this one.

SKC - 1 (Bunbury)
RSL - 1 (Saborio)

No comments: