Saturday, May 04, 2013

Sporting Welcome Chivas While Trying to Solve Defense

Sporting Kansas City welcomes Chivas USA to Sporting Park tomorrow for the second of three straight home games.  Coming off the back of back to back loses to the LA Galaxy and Portland Timbers, Sporting KC will be looking to right the ship and get back on a winning track.

Really for Chivas this year the story coming in had been the team's focus on returning to their roots and focusing on Mexican and Mexican American talent for the team. Leading Chivas is head coach, Jose Luis Sola, "Chelis."  Chelis has been a source of great quotes so far this season, but he's also got Chivas playing fairly well at the same time.  Chivas currently sits in 4th place in the Western Conference on 11 points with a 3-3-2 record. They haven't been flashy, but they've been getting results.  Last week they got a surprising 2-2 draw against defending Supporters' Shield winners, San Jose.  They are on a 3 game winless streak though having lost their previous 2 before the draw 1-0 to Salt Lake and Colorado.  They'll be in plenty of games this year thanks to Dan Kennedy in net, who's arguably been the best keeper in the league the last two years.

For Kansas City, they'll need to solve their suddenly leaky defense.  After their long shutout streak ended in Los Angeles, Kansas City has given up five goals.  Three of those five have come via quick counter attacks where Kansas City's defense has been caught up field and have struggled to get back.  This is an issue that Kansas City is going to need to resolve quickly as teams have realized the best way to beat KC.  Portland came in and actually took the game to Kansas City, something that KC hasn't gotten a lot of at home, now they need to figure out how to beat that the same way they need to figure out how to break down teams that come into Kansas City an bunker.  After the past few results I'd almost think some changes are needed.  While Chance Myers scored two goals in the last game, he's been exposed defensively on some of Portland's goals. The midfield has also struggled, with Oriol Rosell, Paulo Nagamura, and Benny Feilhaber in the middle of the park, the three haven't been able to give KC the energy that the midfield brought last year and at times has looked out of their element.  But I'm not sure we'll see any changes yet.

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

Number to remember - 1 Each of the past two games has seen Kansas City score a single goal against Chivas USA.  Last year it was a 1-0 win over Chivas at the Home Depot Center.  Before that it was a 1-1 draw at Livestrong Sporting Park thanks to a late goal by Omar Bravo.

Key Match Up - Sporting KC attack vs Dan Kennedy - As I mentioned earlier, Kennedy has been one of the best keepers in the league the past few years.  He's always seemed to bring his A game when playing KC.  KC's attackers haven't scored a goal since Claudio Bieler's late winner against DC United in early April. Come tomorrow it will have been a month since a Kansas City attacker has scored.  The 3 goals since have all been scored by defenders.

PREDICTION - Chivas has been grinding things out so far this season and that's likely what to expect tomorrow.  I think Chivas won't bring the game to KC the same way Portland did, but I think they'll bring it more than the likes of DC or Chicago have brought it at Sporting Park so far this year. That could open the game up for a bit of excitement between the two sides. But KC's attackers need to actually get involved more, Bieler has been extremely isolated the last few games, getting him the ball more is going to be huge (against Portland Aurelien Collin had more touches in the box than Bieler).

SKC - 2 (Zusi, Sapong)
CUSA - 1 (Bowen)

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