Sporting Kansas City return home to Sporting Park tomorrow night when they'll take on the Columbus Crew for the first of three meetings this season. Sporting's home form as of late has been anything but stellar, they've won just two of their last seven home games in all competitions. Those two wins game against the dysfunctional Chivas USA who played with 10 men, and a bunch of college kids (Des Moines).
Columbus have won just two of their last eight league games heading into this weekend's match. Last week they lost 2-1 to the Chicago Fire at home. If you thought some Sporting fans were starting to turn on Peter Vermes, more Crew fans are wanting Crew coach, Robert Warzycha canned from his position. The Crew have been hit with some injury issues, losing both Eddie Gaven and Glauber to ACL tears this year. Both are starters if they're healthy. The Crew will also be without Matias Sanchez, who is suspended for the game tomorrow due to yellow card accumulation. Still the Crew have Federico Higuain, the Columbus designated player who runs their offense and Dominic Oduro who has caused a number of issues for Sporting in the past.
Sporting come into the game relatively healthy. Last week the only injury was Seth Sinovic who had an injury that kept him out. With Mechack Jerome and Peterson Joseph away with the Haitian national team, Sinovic should be back at left back with Chance Myers on the right. If Sinovic is unable to go, Josh Gardner would be the likely candidate to start at left back. The other question mark is Paulo Nagamura who left last week's game with an injury. If Nagamura can't go, then Lawrence Olum seems the most likely to slot in at his spot. Sporting KC does have Dom Dwyer back from his loan with Orlando City. With CJ Sapong suspended for the game, I expect Dwyer to find a spot on the bench where he could come on if need be.
Myers - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Nagamura - Rosell
Kamara - Bieler - Peterson
Number to Remember - 1 - That's the number of wins that Sporting KC has over the Columbus Crew since their move to the other side of the state line. Since the move to Kansas before the 2008 season, Kansas City is a dismal 1-4 in league play against the Columbus Crew, scoring three and conceding nine. In all competitions, it's still an unacceptable 1-4-1 at home vs the Crew since the move to Kansas.
Key Match Up - Claudio Bieler vs Chad Marshall - Marshall has been a consistent rock for the Crew in the back. The question is how Bieler will deal with another talk, physical center back going up against him tomorrow. The service to Bieler this season has lacked, and against a mountain of a center back like Marshall it's going to be tough for Bieler again.
PREDICTION - Neither one of these teams is playing exceptionally well right now. Columbus had a big win over Montreal at home, but other than that haven't lit the world on fire. Sporting KC at the moment is barely hanging onto a playoff spot. With the talent that they have Sporting shouldn't currently be sitting in 5th place in the East. At some point the talent that KC has should start to come out. If not larger questions have to be asked. Against the Crew though I expect Columbus to sit back and look for Oduro on the counter or Higuain off a set piece. Other than that I expect this to be the typical KC home game, control possession, out shoot, out chance. The question is whether Kansas City can find the goals that they've lacked lately.
SKC - 2 (Bieler, Bunbury)
CLB - 1 (Oduro)