Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Playoffs Begin

Sporting KC kicks off their playoff campaign tomorrow night in Colorado against the Rapids in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals. KC split the season series with the Rapids, drawing both games 1-1. In the game out in Colorado Conor Casey scored in the 13th minute after a poor back pass. KC equalized in the 75th minute with a nice long range shot by Ryan Smith, in one of his last appearances for KC.

The match up tomorrow will be a different match up. Colorado will be without two players that started that game, Pablo Mastroeni and Conor Casey are both out with injuries, and a third player, Jamie Smith, tore his ACL on Wednesday night and will be out for the rest of the season. The Rapids finished the regular season 5th in the West, but only 2 points behind KC's 51 points. The good news is that it's not going to be incredibly cold in Colorado tomorrow night for the game, compared to Wednesday night at least.

KC comes into the game having had the extra rest compared to Colorado. They are also a lot healthier than the Rapids are heading into this game. Even with the health I don't see that there is going to be much if any change to Sporting KC's lineup from the last two weeks. The only possible change that I think could be seen is seeing Davy Arnaud inserted into the lineup for Roger Espinoza. The addition of Arnaud would see KC insert their most experienced player in the MLS playoffs. But KC really doesn't have that much playoff experience, only 6 players have appeared in the playoffs. Three are potential starters, Arnaud, Espinoza, and Kei Kamara, 1 is a bench player, Michael Harrington, 1 is out injured, Luke Sassano, and 1 on his way out of town, Shavar Thomas. But KC has other experience in knock out competitions, like Omar Bravo or Jimmy Nielsen and their experience in knock out competitions outside of MLS.

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

Number to Remember - 1 - That's the number of playoff wins that KC has away from home in their history. In Dallas back in 1996. KC doesn't have to win tomorrow, but that wouldn't hurt at all if they can pull all 3 points tomorrow.

Key Match Up - Matt Besler vs Omar Cummings - Cummings became the focal point of Colorado's offense when Casey went down. He's not had the season like he did last year, but he did score Colorado's lone goal in their 1-0 win over the Crew on Wednesday.

PREDICTION - As mentioned earlier, KC doesn't have to win this game, but a win would be absolutely a major plus for KC. Colorado is beat up and if there was a time to play them it's now. I'm not sure that KC will pull out the win but I think they'll get a positive result out of the game tomorrow.

SKC - 1 (Kamara)
COL - 1 (Nyassi)

1 comment:

Nathan Martin said...

I have a few nerves about Cesar in this game. His calm can also breed a stagnation in the midfield and leave a dividing gap between the back "5" and the rest of the team. That time and space between the lines could allow for CO's speedy forwards to be sprung.

That being said, I expect a big game from our stars and a result. Playoffs rock.