Friday, July 19, 2013

Living Up to the Hype?

Tomorrow night at Rio Tinto Stadium, the top of the East will meet the top of West at Rio Tinto Stadium as Sporting KC meet Real Salt Lake.  The question is though, will the match up live up to the expectations of the game?  Both teams will be missing players for the match up due to injury or do to call ups for the national team.

Of the two teams, Real Salt Lake is certainly the hardest hit. They'll be missing four players who are with their national team for the Gold Cup still.  Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, and Nick Rimando are all still with the US national team still, while Alvaro Saborio is still with Costa Rica. Those four play in Gold Cup quarterfinals on Sunday in Baltimore so they won't be in Salt Lake tomorrow for the game.  Not only that, but Salt Lake is suffering through injury issues, especially at center back.  Just this week they made a trade with DC United that brought in Brandon McDonald to help with their issues there.  They're already missing Chris Schuler and Kwame Watson-Siriboe in the center of defense.  They will still have their best back in Nat Borchers. On top of that, RSL will be starting their 3rd goalkeeper, Jeff Attinella.  With Rimando already with the national team, last week, back up, Jeff Saunders tore his ACL, putting RSL in a bit of a hole goalkeeping wise.

KC is only losing one player for the Gold Cup, Matt Besler has been called up as part of Jurgen Klinsmann's changes to the US roster.  The team will be welcoming back two of their Gold Cup players though, as Mechack Jerome and Peterson Joseph should both be back with the team after Haiti's elimination from the Gold Cup. KC also welcomes back CJ Sapong who has been recalled from his loan with Orlando ahead of the game, and he too will be available for selection. That will give KC plenty of offensive choices starting and on the bench. I do expect KC to switch things up a little bit. I'm not sure KC will go with the two offensive minded midfielders like they did at home against Toronto. I think we could see Lawrence Olum inserted for Benny Feilhaber, especially with Feilhaber being on the injured list as being questionable.

Myers - Collin - Opara - Sinovic
Rosell - Olum
Kamara - Bieler - Saad

Number to Remember - 10 - Of KC's 29 goals this season, they've been scored by 10 different players.  Take out Bieler's 9, and 9 players have 20 goals for KC.  The goal scoring has been spread out a bit for KC.

Key Match Up - KC forwards vs RSL center defense - With all the injury issues for RSL in the center of defense and the possibility of McDonald making his debut only a few days after being traded to the team, KC could certainly exploit the lack of cohesion. Add that in with RSL's goalkeeper making his first MLS start, and KC should be expected to take care of business.

PREDICTION - Rio Tinto hasn't been a nice place for KC to play, KC has one just once there since the stadium opened.  They lost their last trip to Salt Lake 1-0 back in 2011. Even with KC's lack of success in Utah, Sporting could very well be considered a favor in the game tomorrow, simple because of RSL's absences due to call ups and injuries. With an inexperienced goalkeeper and questions in defense KC's attack will need to attack often tomorrow.  But RSL is still quite strong, especially at home. A draw seems likely out of this one.

SKC - 2 (Kamara, Bieler)
RSL - 2 (Findley, Garcia)

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