Thursday, September 13, 2012

Back to the Business of League Play

With the international break last week behind us, it's time for Kansas City to get back to league business for the final push for the playoffs.  Kansas City is currently 3 points behind San Jose for the Supporters' Shield with 7 games left, and 3 points ahead of Chicago for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Kansas City returns to league play against the team that ended KC's season last year, the Houston Dynamo.  The Dynamo built the blue print last year in the Eastern Conference finals on how to defeat KC's high pressure at home.  And since KC has yet to find a way to consistently beat the bunker defense at home, expect Houston to come out in that similar format again tomorrow night.  So far this season, Houston has won down in Houston and drawn in Kansas City in the two previous meetings.  Tomorrow Houston though will have to do it without Calen Carr, who is suspended due to yellow card accumulation.  While they'll still have leading scorer, Will Bruin, Carr is the only player that has scored on Kansas City this season for Houston.

Kansas City's long term injury sufferers, Bobby Convey and Jacob Peterson are getting closer to full health, in fact Peterson is set to be cleared to play.  Peterson though is unlikely to be a starter immediately from his return, but wouldn't be surprised to see him make an appearance off the bench.  With that, and Aurelien Collin's return from his 1 game suspension, I'd expect Kansas City's lineup to be similar to what we've seen the last few games.

Myers - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Cesar - Nagamura
Kamara - Sapong - Zusi

Number to Remember - 11 - That's KC's magic number right now.  KC needs a combination of points gained by them and lost by 6th place in the East (currently DC United) equaling 11.  With 3 home games left, each one is going to be important in this final stretch.  The playoffs while not a forgone conclusion would take a big collapse down the stretch for them to miss the playoffs.  So getting to the playoffs just isn't enough.

Key Match Up - Aurelien Collin vs Will Bruin - Collin returns from his suspension for yellow accumulation and will get to match up with Houston's leading scorer.  Bruin is going to create an extremely physical match up with Collin and while it won't be Collin vs Steven Lenhart, it's going to be interesting to watch.

PREDICTION - Three home games left for Sporting KC, each one has to be a win.  Houston has had some form issues lately, and their road form has been worse.  Their last road win was in late July when they won in Toronto (which honestly does winning in Toronto really count?).  Before that you have to go back to the second game of the regular season when Houston beat San Jose on the road 1-0 for their last road win in league play.  With Chicago and New York breathing down KC's neck, it's absolutely dire that Sporting take care of business at home.  In the past Dominic Kinnear has out coached Peter Vermes.  And the longer tomorrow goes without a goal the more Houston is going to be comfortable taking the point.  Houston is going to use the same strategy that they diagrammed in the EC finals last year.  The best was to break that down has been an nearly goal and that's not going to change tomorrow.  Getting the early goal is going to once again be the key for KC.

SKC - 2 (Sapong, Kamara)
HOU - 1 (Bruin)

1 comment:

Nathan Martin said...

Once Peterson returns to the starting lineup, I'll be curious to see where they have him: underneath or out wide?

Zusi's game against Jamaica was his best performance at that wide right position, in my opinion.

And Vermes had experimented with Peterson underneath before his injury.