Saturday, May 18, 2013

It's a Trap

Tomorrow's game against DC United at RFK Stadium is a classic trap game for Sporting Kansas City.  Sporting comes into the game coming off a big win over Houston on the road last week.  DC on the other hand comes in on the backs of a 7 game winless run and lost their last home game 4-0 to Houston. So DC is at a point of extreme pressure to get a result.

United's last game home game was a 4-0 loss to Houston at RFK.  The pressure is mounting on DC coach Ben Olsen to begin to get results.  DC has scored the fewest goals in the league heading into the game, having only scored 5 times through 10 games.  They've struggled with some injuries as well, with Chris Pontius and Nick DeLeon missing time for the club during this stretch.  They still have former MVP Dwayne DeRosario (and Carlos Ruiz although he is injured) on the roster and he seems to always cause KC some problems.

Kansas City comes in with a few issues of their own, specifically in defense.  In the 1-0 win over Houston last week, both Aurelien Collin and Oriol Rosell picked up their 5th yellow cards of the season.  That will see them both suspended for tomorrow's game.  The two suspensions raise enough questions for Sporting's starting 11 on their own, but there are other questions for Sporting as well.  Specifically the health of Matt Besler.  Besler has missed the last few games with a knee injury.  With Collin out Ike Opara is expected to get another start at center back.  If Besler can't go, then Lawrence Olum looks set to get his first start of the season alongside Opara.  The midfield could be a product of whether Besler can or cannot go.  If Besler can go, Olum could slot directly into Rosell's spot in front of the back four.  The other option is to have Paulo Nagamura play in the more withdrawn role and play the likes of Benny Feilhaber and Peterson Joseph in front of him. The other possibility is to drop Graham Zusi back into midfield, but I think that'd do more harm to the attack than good.  The other question is whether Kei Kamara has been with the team long enough to get reinserted into the starting lineup.

Myers - Opara - Besler - Sinovic
Nagamura - Joseph
Kamara - Bieler - Zusi

Number to Remember - 5 - Kansas City has won 5 straight games in the series against DC United. They've won the two meetings each of the last two years as well as the one match up so far this year.  In those 5 games, KC has shut out DC in four of them, all by a 1-0 score line.  The only one that wasn't 1-0 was a 2-1 win at Sporting Park last year.

Key Match Up - Claudio Bieler vs Dejan Jakovic - Bieler so far this year has been as good as advertised, he's currently still second in the league in scoring and has been a handful for teams.  He scored the winner when these two teams met at Sporting Park earlier this year and will be counted on again to find net.

PREDICTION - As I mentioned in the opening, this is a trap game for KC.  KC is coming off a huge win against a rival in Houston now get to travel to play a team who is desperate.  And KC gets to do it without two key defensive parts.  The good news for KC is that the DC offense still don't strike me with a ton of fear. DeRosario is a threat, but the rest of the team offensively has struggled. Casey Townsend has done well early on in the lower division this year, he's not proven himself at the MLS level.  The other option is Lionard Pajoy who doesn't strike a ton of free in teams.

SKC - 2 (Bieler, Kamara)
DC - 1 (DeRosario)

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