Friday, June 15, 2012

Back to League Play

After a couple weeks off from league play for an international break, Sporting KC is back to league play tomorrow when they take on Toronto FC at Livestrong Sporting Park.  KC has played two games since their last league game, both in the US Open Cup, Toronto on the other hand has been off the entire time without a game. 

The other thing that Toronto did during the stretch is replace their coach.  A week into the two week break, Toronto FC replaced Aron Winter as head coach with Director of Player Development Paul Mariner.  The long time New England assistant got his first head coaching job in MLS.  With the change comes a question of how Toronto is going to come out. Already there are rumors that Mariner has switched from the 4-3-3 that Winter was running to a more traditional 4-4-2.  They'll make some changes to their lineup it would appear, Jamaican international, Ryan Johnson just returned to the team and looks unlikely to start, which could be a good team with the changes to KC's back line they have to make.

Speaking of KC, they're injury crisis is in full swing right now.  For the game tomorrow KC looks to be without 4 players that would be starters or primary options off the bench due to injury.  Matt Besler, Bobby Convey, Paulo Nagamura, and Jacob Peterson all look set to miss the game due to injury.  KC will also be without Kei Kamara who is still with Sierra Leone for their do or die African Cup of Nations qualifier in Freetown.  So that's 3 starters that have to be replaced and bench options that are thrown around a little.  Lawrence Olum looks set to get his first league start, most likely in central defense next to Aurelien Collin, but could possibly be put in D-mid with Julio Cesar dropping back.  Filling in for Kamara would seem to be one of Dom Dwyer or Soony Saad.  Saad seems to be in the better form currently, but Dwyer has spent more time out on the wing and may be more comfortable out there than Saad.  The good news is that KC will have back their MVP so far this season (in my opinion), Roger Espinoza who returned from international duty with Honduras.

Myers - Collin - Olum - Sinovic
Cesar - Espinoza
Saad - Bunbury - Sapong

Number to Remember - 4 - Thanks to a post from Sporting KC, this is the fourth time that Sporting KC has faced a coaching coaching his first game for a club in league play.  So far, KC is 2-0-1 in those games.  The teams inaugural game and two games against Chivas USA.  KC will look to extend that unbeaten run.

Key Match Up - Aurelien Collin vs Danny Koevermans - Collin's primary job will be watching Toronto's DP forward.  Koevermans is going to be a handful for Collin, but this should be a fun match up to watch between a physical defender and a big target forward.

PREDICTION - KC is depleted by injury and Toronto is not as bad as their record has indicated.  This game is a big question mark due to the change in coach.  Mariner is very familiar with MLS from his time with New England will have his team ready to come in to Kansas City.  This isn't going to be as easy as some fans had hoped or if Winter was still in charge.  Mariner will have this team ready to play and the easiest way to get started is to shore up the defense.  Mariner will have the defense organized and ready to go tomorrow to shut down KC.

SKC - 2 (Bunbury, Sapong)
TFC - 1 (Koevermans)

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