Saturday, June 01, 2013

Last Chance for Points Before a Break

Sporting Kansas City will have their last chance to pick up league points for three weeks tomorrow when they take on the Montreal Impact at Sporting Park.  Thanks to the quirkiness of the MLS schedule, KC does not have another league game after tomorrow until the team's trip to Dallas on June 22nd. Their opponent, the Impact, is one point ahead of Sporting, but again thanks to the schedule has played three less games than Sporting.  So picking up points tomorrow is imperative for Sporting.

Montreal arrived in Kansas City yesterday coming directly from Vancouver where Montreal clinched themselves a spot in the CONCACAF Champions' League with a 2-2 draw against Vancouver. The Impact played a lineup that was fairly close to their best eleven against the Whitecaps so they like Sporting will be playing on short rest.  Sporting has an extra day of rest, but both teams are playing their 3rd game in a little over a week.

Unlike Montreal, Sporting has gotten to play all 3 games during this stretch at home, which is a nice bonus for Kansas City.  The problem is that Sporting will go into the game without two key players.  Matt Besler and Graham Zusi will miss the team as they'll be on national team duty with the USA.  Ike Opara has filled in quite well in the center of defense when Besler or Aurelien Collin.  As for Zusi, his role is much harder to fill, but with Kei Kamara continuing to return to form and back into the starting lineup, he should help in offsetting Zusi's loss at least a little bit.  The game though is going to be the last before Kamara, Peterson Joseph, and Mechack Jerome all depart for international duty.  One question heading into the game is whether Chance Myers will return to the starting lineup in league play or not.  With KC's lack of offensive options right now, Peter Vermes could leave him on the bench as a potential wingback or forward sub should KC need it.

Jerome - Collin - Opara - Sinovic
Rosell - Nagamura
Kamara - Bieler - Peterson

Number to Remember - 4 -  That's the number of points Sporting KC has in their last 4 league games at home.  Really a pathetic number for a team that has claimed to have one of the best home field advantages in the league.  And 3 of those points came against the hapless Chivas USA side.

Key Match Up - Aurelien Collin vs Marco Di Vaio - The leagues leading scorer vs an MLS Best XI defender.  In the first match up this season, Collin and Besler shut down Di Vaio, limiting him to just 1 shot on goal in Sporting's 2-0 win.  They'll need to step up again to shut down the scorer again.

PREDICTION - Last time these two teams met Sporting KC put on their best performance of the season and thoroughly dominated the Impact on their way to a 2-0 win, ending Montreal's unbeaten start to the season. While Portland showed how to come to KC and play with KC, Montreal did the opposite in their first trip.  I don't expect Montreal to sit back as we've seen from the likes of Chicago, but I certainly don't expect a game similar to the one that occurred earlier this season.  Montreal is going to go about the game differently and adjusting to the changes that the Impact make will be key.

SKC - 1 (Bieler)
MTL - 1 (Di Vaio)

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