Friday, March 15, 2013

Opening Sporting Park

Sporting KC return to Sporting Park tomorrow for the first time this season when they'll take on the Chicago Fire tomorrow afternoon on NBC Sports as part of the league's "rivalry week."  It's the second of three matches that day on NBC or NBC Sports.  KC gets to match up with the team that they've tried to build a rivalry with over the past few years since the club's rebranding. 

Chicago comes into the game on the backs of a 1-0 loss to New England in Chicago's home opener last weekend. It's was the second straight loss for the Fire to open the season after being beaten 4-0 in their season opener against the LA Galaxy.  The defense shored itself up against New England, but the offense has really not gotten going at this time.  The Fire will still be without Arne Friedrich who is out has gone to Germany for treatment on an injury.  While the offense hasn't gotten going they are still dangerous with the likes of Joel Lindpere, who always seems to play well against KC, in the midfield and Chris Rolfe up top, who most KC fans will remember for crawling back onto the field to try to get play stopped for an injury last year.

For Sporting it's become about coming out ready to play.  Both of KC's games so far this season have seen them come out slow and they've been made to pay for it conceding goals early in both games.  Sporting needs to get that taken care of fast, the team can't continue to come out the way they have against Philadelphia and Toronto.  The defense has been shaky in the first two games, but the offense also hasn't exactly been lighting things up early on either.  Three of KC's four goals so far have come in the second half, and with CJ Sapong on the field instead of Bobby Convey.  I'm not saying that Convey's been the worst player on the field for KC, but at this time he's bringing less offensively to the team than the other options I'd see being replaced for Sapong (Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi the other two). Hopefully seeing Sapong from the start will help him and Claudio Bieler combine from the start instead of getting going in the second half.

Myers - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Nagamura - Rosell
Zusi - Bieler - Sapong

Number to Remember - 3 - KC is undefeated in their last 3 home openers, including a 0-0 draw with the Chciago Fire in 2011 when Sporting Park was opened. T

Key Match Up - Claudio Bieler vs Austin Berry  - Two goals in two games for Bieler, a nice start for the Argentine. This week he'll likely get to match up mainly against the 2012 rookie of the year.  Chicago will look to continue their defensive improvement ever since the big loss on the road to LA in the season opener.

PREDICTION - In recent history (1-3-1) and historically (11-23-9 in league play) Chicago has been the better team, but the games lately have all been extremely close affairs usually decided by a single goal.  I'd be shocked if we get anything different from that tomorrow at Sporting Park.  Chicago's defense did a better job against New England but will be getting a more dynamic attack from Kansas City than they did against New England (especially if Sapong starts up top).  On the other side, the Fire will be looking to again catch the KC back line napping again early like Philadelphia and Toronto have.

SKC - 2 (Bieler x2)
CHI - 0


hartley said...

I sure wish Jacob Peterson was healthy and available. I would love to see a front line of Peterson - Bieler - Sapong. That would put Zusi back in the midfield -- in what I think is still the best position for him. I don't think Benny is quite there. And it might do him some good to watch the midfield work with Zusi at the head to see how this team works best.

And I am still hoping that Myers gets his act going. Maybe he should be the right forward going forward. But of course, that would depend on many things -- including if Jerome is ready to start an MLS game.

Go Sporting!

John said...

I would love to see that formation, with Fielhaber in center attack and Nagamura behind him. Instead of vice versa like the last two games.