Saturday, May 11, 2013

Finishing a Busy Week in an Unfriendly Environment

Sporting KC return to action again tomorrow against the Houston Dynamo.  It'll be the 3rd game in just over a week for both teams.  The two teams though have looked quite different over the past week.  While Houston has looked quite good, taking 6 points on the road against LA and an admittedly poor DC United, KC took 3 points from two home games against Chivas USA and Seattle.  Now KC gets to travel on the road while Houston returns home to a place where the Dynamo have yet to lose.

Houston's road play in the past week has been dominate, especially in DC.  The team is playing well and Will Bruin appears to have woken up from his early season slump. They are suffering through some long term injury issues with both Calen Carr and Omar Cummings, but this has given more time to the likes of Giles Barnes and Andrew Driver, who have seized the time and taken full advantage of it. The Dynamo have been the thorn in the backs of Kansas City for the past few years, especially in the playoffs taking KC out the last two years.

Kansas City while they got the 4-0 win over Chivas has been in some poor form lately, especially at home.  They've lost 3 of their last 4, with 3 of those games being at home.  Losses to LA, Portland, and Seattle have brought Kansas City back to earth and have brought a number of questions on style and tactics for Kansas City.  Sporting will get the return of Paulo Nagamura from his suspension Wednesday for his stomp on the weekend.  Also expect a few more changes to the lineup from Wednesday as a few players got some rest.  One big question is whether or not Matt Besler will be returning to the lineup.  Besler has missed the last two games due to a knee injury.  Not that Ike Opara has done horribly replacing Besler, but the defense has missed Besler's composure in the back.

Myers - Collin - Opara - Sinovic
Nagamura - Rosell
Kamara - Bieler - Zusi

Number to Remember - 6 - That's the number of games in a row that KC has gone in league play without a win against the Houston Dynamo on the road.  Since handing the Dynamo their first home loss in team history, Sporting has gone 0-3-3 in Houston, scoring 5 goals while conceding 11.  That's not including 2 playoff losses (both 2-0), or a 1-0 extra time win in a US Open Cup qualifier (that actually took place in College Station).

Key Match Up - Aurelien Collin vs Will Bruin - Bruin finally broke out of his goal scoring slump recently, scoring 2 goals in Houston's Wednesday night win over DC.  Collin will likely be the one tasked with keeping an eye on the striker.  On the surface that looks set to be a fairly physical match up between the two.

PREDICTION - I would like to say that I'm confident in this game, but I'm really not.  Recent results for Kansas City (4-0 win over 10 man Chivas aside) have left me with more questions than answers about this team.  Peter Vermes finally started using some squad rotation this past week in games so the lineup could certainly change a bit.  But the team right now doesn't seem to be clicking as well.  The defense has been exposed very badly in these games, especially on the counter.  Shoring up the defense must be a key for this game. I don't like to rely on KC's past history or Houston's, but with KC winless since 2006, and Houston undefeated at BBVA Compass Stadium since it opened I don't have high hopes for this game, I'd probably be thrilled with a draw, but I don't really see that happening. I expect Dominic Kinnear to outcoach Vermes again and take this game.

SKC - 0
HOU - 2 (Bruin, Driver)

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