Colorado advanced to this round of the Open Cup after defeating the Tampa Bay Rowdies 3-1 last week in Tampa. The Rapids, like Sporting were off last weekend, and it would seem likely that they'll be putting their first team out against Kansas City as a way to get them game time ahead of their next league game, which is the 16th. Both Marvell Wynne and Omar Cummings are still out, and Conor Casey is doubtful for the Rapids. It'll be interesting to see the lineup they put out but Martin Rivero will likely be a key to their offense.
As I mentioned above, KC doesn't have a league game this weekend. What that means is that I fully expect that KC will play as close to a first team lineup as possible. KC has 11 days until their match up with Toronto FC on the 16th. While Peter Vermes has liked to use the reserves a little bit in the Open Cup, I think the guys need to keep their actual game fitness up a bit. And a win this week would allow a bit more reserve play in the team's next Open Cup game, which would be a plus after the busy week they'll have before the potential quarterfinal match up. The one problem that KC could have is in center midfield. Arguably KC's deepest position appears to be a little thin right now. Already without Roger Espinoza due to international duty, Luke Sassano and Paulo Nagamura are both listed currently as being out, while Peterson Joseph is listed as questionable. That would seem to leave a likely midfield 3 of Julio Cesar, Lawrence Olum, and Graham Zusi. That midfield seems to be missing the bit that has been provided by Espinoza and Nagamura so far this season. Olum seems to be more in the mold of Cesar than a midfielder that does more of the heavy lifting like Espinoza and Nagamura have done. That loss is going to be hard to overcome for KC.
Myers - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Cesar - Olum
Saad - Bunbury - Sapong
Number to Remember - 0 - As I mentioned on Twitter tonight, KC has never won an Open Cup game against the Rapids. The 2 teams have met 2 times in the Open Cup proper, and 2 times in Open Cup qualifiers. In those 4 games, KC is 0-3-1. In the two games in the Open Cup proper, KC has lost both games (in 1996 and 2003) 3-2. In Open Cup qualifiers KC drew the Rapids 2-2 back in 2008, which they won on penalty kicks, and lost in 2010 2-1. Three of those games have been in Kansas City. Tomorrow night though I wouldn't be surprised if the attendance tops all 3 of those games combined at Livestrong Sporting Park.
Key Match Up - Graham Zusi vs Jeff Larentowicz - Zusi changed the game against Orlando when he came into the game last week. Against another MLS side, let's hope that Zusi improves his performance, which has improved since hitting a low around the time that KC played Colorado.
PREDICTION - Four games away from a trip to next year's CONCACAF Champion's League, things are lined up well for Sporting. They are at home, where they continue to play very well. They're off league play last weekend and this weekend, and while Colorado is as well, I think as a whole KC is the more talented team. There's no excuses in this game, call ups and injuries aside, 4 games from a trophy, you go out and you get the trophy.
SKC - 2 (Bunbury, Sapong)
CO - 1 (Akpan)