Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Paint the Wall

It's finally here, the day that fans have been counting down towards since Sporting KC defeated the Philadelphia Union back on July 11th.  Tomorrow KC take the field in a cup final for the first time since the 2004 MLS Cup final against DC United.  It's been 8 years since KC not only competed in a cup final, but also won in a cup final, defeating the Chicago Fire in the US Open Cup in the same year. 

KC's opponent tomorrow are the 3 time defending US Open Cup champion, Seattle Sounders.  While Kansas City is playing for their first US Open Cup since 2004, the Sounders are looking to set a record by winning an unprecedented 4th title in a row.  No team has won 4 US Open Cups in a row in the 98 previous versions of the tournament.  While Kansas City has their own busy stretch right now, Seattle has also been busy, tomorrow they'll be playing their 3rd game in 7 days.  In their other two games this past week though, Seattle has outscored their two opponents, Calcedonia AIA and the LA Galaxy 7-1 in their 2 games.  Their offense has really lite things up lately, Mauro Rosales and Eddie Johnson seem to be clicking together, and Fredy Montero is still going to be a factor.  The other question is what role Seattle's latest designated player, Christian Tiffert, plays in the game.  He could very well make his first start for the club tomorrow.  They also have Michael Gspurning in goal having returned from injury recently.  In 765 minutes, he's allowed only 4 goals, for a GAA of .47

Kansas City's injury issues are continuing for them.  Chance Myers, Jacob Peterson, and CJ Sapong are all questionable, but could arguably be a starter if they are healthy enough to play.  If Myers can't go, expect Michael Harrington to continue in that role.  Peterson could start in the midfield or in the left wing position if Bobby Convey isn't available.  Sapong as well can start either on the wing or at the center forward position.  And while Convey isn't on the injury report he subbed out after only 7 minutes against New England on the weekend.  With him still recovering fully from his injury it's a question of whether Peter Vermes is willing to risk him as a starter with the prospect of 120 minute game AND penalty kicks.  Kansas City does have Roger Espinoza returning from the Olympics, and while Vermes says his status is uncertain due to a clavicle injury suffered at the Olympics, I completely expect Espinoza to play a very big part in the game tomorrow.  A performance similar to the one he had against Brazil and KC will be in good shape tomorrow.  On top of all the injury, and potential injury issues, Kansas City will also be without central defender, Aurelien Collin who is suspended after picking up 3 yellow cards in the tournament.  Lawrence Olum is the favorite to replace him and honestly I'd be surprised if anyone but him partnered Matt Besler.

Nielsen
Harrington - Olum - Besler - Sinovic
Nagamura - Espinoza
Zusi
Kamara - Bunbury - Peterson

Number to Remember - 7 - That's the number of games in a row in all competitions that KC have gone without a win against the Sounders.  Since winning the teams first ever match up in 2009 against the Sounders, Seattle has won 6 of the previous 7, and the one they didn't win was the team's league meeting with the Sounders this year.  In those 6 wins, 4 of them have been decided in the 89th minute or later, an 89th minute PK in the 2009 US Open Cup meeting scored by Sebastien Le Toux, the 2010 game in which Mike Fucito scored in the second minute of stoppage time to win it.  That was followed by two instances last season.  First in Seattle a Jeff Parke header in the 93rd minute gave Seattle a 1-0 win.  Then in KC when Rosales scored in the 90th to tie it and Lamar Neagle in the 92nd to win it for Seattle.

Key Match Up - Roger Espinoza vs Mauro Rosales -  Espinoza, the break out star of the Olympics is back with KC and will have a tough task in his first match back with KC.  He'll likely have much of the duty in shutting down Seattle's main playmaker in Rosales.

PREDICTION - #TheTerror has really hit me quite hard the last day or so.  Tomorrow's game won't be an "enjoyable" one for me.  It's going to be stressful, excruciatingly stressful.  That said any prediction I make is totally worthless in a prediction.  All I'll predict is that I will probably tear up tomorrow no matter the result.  Either with tears of joy or sadness, it won't be one of my prouder moments either way.  I truly want KC to win this game (like most fans of KC and probably quite a few around the league), and they can, they have to play their game, and they have to finish the chances that they get.  We can't have one of these performances like we've had lately where we blow chance after chance.  Seattle won't give us those chances.  We have to take the chances that we get.

4 comments:

eelgrassman said...

A thing I'm worried about for tomorrow night is the crowd, or lack thereof. We may be playing for our first recent shot at silverware in front of a lot of empty seats, at least according to Ticketmaster and Stubhub. What the heck have the ticket sales reps been doing lately?

Nathan W Martin said...

No worries here.

Seattle won't have nearly the time and space in the midfield that they've enjoyed recently.

I expect a good game. I like SKC's chances.

Ben said...

re: ticket prices. I think it's plausible that the West Side ticket prices are a little high for the KC market (since that is where the vast majority of the unsold seats are located). Still, if the weather cooperates, I could see there being a decent walk-up crowd for the game.

Joseph Landis said...

Yeah, I titled my preview this also before I came here. Don't feel like changing it, just warning you that it may feel like deja vu. ;)