Friday, March 16, 2012

The Home Opener

Record vs New England - 21-12-9 (W-L-D)
At home - 10-7-4
At LSP - 0-0-1
Last game - 7/30/11 1-1 (Lekic 38, Bunbury 89)

After a 1-0 win in the season opener in DC, KC return home to open their home portion of their season against the New England Revolution. The Revolution come into KC after a 1-0 result of their own, only this one went the wrong way for them as they fell 1-0 in San Jose against the Earthquakes. In the game against the Earthquakes, they also looked fairly poor, especially in the attack. That could change this week though, as they have French striker, Saer Sene former of Bayern Munich II available for selection. Their makeshift back line also has received a boost, as AJ Soares is no longer on the injury report after suffering a knee sprain against San Jose. And of course they still have Benny Feilhaber and Sharlie Joseph.

Kansas City will need to do better finishing their chances and better with creating chances from all their possession than they did against DC last weekend. While on paper New England is weaker than DC, the big thing that KC needs to avoid is complacency against what is perceived to be an inferior opponent. That is the big thing to worry about for KC tomorrow. The ground is expected to be a large, very intense crowd, especially with it being St. Patrick's Day. The worry is that in a big game, with a big atmosphere like on opening day last year, or against Houston in the Eastern Conference finals could lead to a let down on the field. The players appear like they're up for the big crowd this time, like they know exactly what's coming, and that will hopefully allow them to step up in this atmosphere tomorrow. The only player expected to be out is Eric Kronberg due to his back issue, Paulo Nagamura and Bobby Convey are both probable tomorrow. The only other player missing from the team for Sporting KC will be Teal Bunbury who is away with the US U23 team. That should put CJ Sapong into the starting lineup for Kansas City in Bunbury's place. Other than that I expect the same lineup as opening day in DC.

Myers - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Cesar - Espinoza
Kamara - Sapong - Convey

Number to Remember - 1 - Since 2000 KC has lost just one time in their home opener, a 3-2 loss to Toronto FC in 2009. Since 2000, KC is 8-1-3 in home openers. Two of the three draws have come against the Chicago Fire. History is on KC's side.

Key Match up - Roger Espinoza/Julio Cesar vs Benny Feilhaber - Shutting down Feilhaber is going to be a big key for KC tomorrow night. Espinoza and Cesar will have the main responsibility for shutting down the Revs attacker. If they perform at the level they did in helping shut down Dwayne DeRosario then KC should be fine.

PREDICTION - This is not a game that KC can look past. New England appears to be in a bit of disarray after their opening weekend, but KC can't play down to the level of competition. The past few years under Vermes though, KC hasn't done so as much as the team did under Onalfo. I don't expect KC to allow New England into the game. This is a game I expect KC to step up and own from the start.

KC - 2 (Zusi, Kamara)
NE - 0

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