Friday, March 22, 2013

Another Home Opener

For the fourth time this season, Sporting KC will get to play a home opener, for the third time it will be on the road.  After playing both Philadelphia and Toronto in their home opener Sporting opened Sporting Park last week.  This weekend they'll get to do another home opener, heading on the road to play the New England Revolution in their home opener.  MLS didn't do Sporting any favors when it came to the early part of the schedule.

New England come into the game with a 1-1 record after two 1-0 results, one in Chicago that they won and one in Philadelphia that they lost last week.  The Revs are in the process of rebuilding roster.  Familiar names like Sharlie Joseph are gone and Matt Reis is nearing the end of his career.  They do have some decent upcoming talent in the back, specifically in AJ Soares and the 2013 first overall pick Andrew Farrell.  Up top is where the Revolution look like they're going to struggle this year.  Jerry Bengston, who would be considered the team's best forward will miss the match up away with Honduras for World Cup qualifiers.  That'll open a spot in the starting lineup for the Revolution that could be replaced by Chad Barrett who has 4 career goals verse Kansas City, but is more known for his misses against KC than his goals. 

While New England will be missing one player, KC will be missing two with the call ups of Matt Besler and Graham Zusi to the US squad ahead of their qualifiers vs Costa Rica and Mexico.  Combine that with the injury list for KC that includes Chance Myers, Peterson Joseph, and long term injuries Jacob Peterson and Teal Bunbury, and Sporting will get an early chance to test their depth.  The forward spot seems the easier decision to make, and that's reinserting Bobby Convey to the lineup on the left side, where Zusi played against Chicago.  An outside chance could be Soony Saad, but I think Convey will get the nod.  Defensively is the more interesting debate, where you could go with Lawrence Olum who filled in for Besler and Aurelien Collin when they missed time last year. The other option is recently acquired Ike Opara who had an injury plagued career at San Jose before coming to Kansas City.  I think at this point Opara is ahead of Olum with Olum providing more support as midfield depth. 

Jerome - Collin - Opara - Sinovic
Rossell - Nagamura
Sapong - Bieler - Convey

Number to Remember - 6 - That's the number of wins in a row the New England have in their home openers.  Their last time they didn't pick up all 3 points in their home opener was a 2-1 loss to Chicago back in 2006.

Key Match Up - Mechack Jerome vs Lee Nguyen - Jerome looks set to make his second start of the season in place of Myers who is still having some quad issues.  His likely match up in this game would be New England's MVP last year, Nguyen.  Jerome doesn't appear to have the push forward that Myers has shown for KC, but that may serve him better against Nguyen, although getting forward and keeping Nguyen honest.

PREDICTION - In their 4th home opener Kansas City will again get to play on a crappy surface (Gillette Stadium was recently given a 1 star rating for it's surface by FIFA).  I'm still worried about the way that Kansas City's offense has looked this season.  I still feel that Claudio Bieler is too isolated up top, especially on the road.  Hopefully that changes this weekend.  KC's offensive troubles, combined with New England being without Bengston has me thinking this may be a game most people want to forget.

SKC - 0
NE - 0

No comments: