Friday, August 02, 2013

Sporting KC Welcome the Red Bulls

Sporting KC return to league play and return home this weekend when they'll take on the New York Red Bulls at Sporting Park. The Eastern Conference race is really tightening up between the top four teams.with about 3 months left in the regular season. Sporting KC currently is still holding onto the top spot, but is only one point ahead of both New York and Montreal in the East.

New York comes into the game without one of their big name designated players.  Tim Cahill has a tear in his PCL and will miss this weekend's game against Sporting. He'll be a miss, especially on set pieces where he'd cause problems matched up against Aurelien Collin. New York pulled off a dramatic late win in their last game, first blowing a 2-0 lead against Real Salt Lake before coming from a goal down and then getting a late winner from Dax McCarty to win 4-3. Thierry Henry played just under an hour for the All Stars on Wednesday so he shouldn't be too tired heading into the match up this week.

The big question heading into tomorrow for KC is the health of Graham Zusi. The latest update on Zusi was that he was doubtful for the game because of his injury picked up in the all star game. While it's a drop down skill wise, at least with Benny Feilhaber on the team there wont' have to be too much of a change to the way the midfield plays. Other than Zusi's injury, Sporting KC should be able to field basically their best 11 tomorrow. Matt Besler is back to partner Collin in the middle of defense. The only potential question is if Zusi can't go who else is in the midfield. My guess is along with Feilhaber and Oriol Rosell we would again get Peterson Joseph to provide a bit of the box-to-box role.

Myers - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Rosell - Joseph
Kamara - Bieler - Saad

Number to Remember - 2 - That's the number of points in the Eastern Conference that currently separate first place Sporting KC on 36 points and the fourth place Philadelphia Union on 34 points. Two points between home field advantage and having to play the play-in game to make the playoffs.

Key Match Up - Aurelien Collin vs Thierry Henry - Teammates on Wednesday will likely be facing off on the field tomorrow. Henry will be looking to run at Collin throughout the course of the game. Collin hasn't been the greatest this season, but he'll need to be up for tomorrow to take care of Henry.

PREDICTION - Sporting lost their first in seven last weekend on the road in Montreal and their first road game since May.  They'll now look to get some separation at the top of the East again. They'll be looking to do it at a busy time in their schedule as well. Because starting on Wednesday, Sporting will enter the CONCACAF Champions League by traveling to Nicaragua. Some people will look to see KC rest a few guys for Wednesday but I still see Peter Vermes as seeing the league as the number 1 priority. KC will be focused on getting the win on Saturday above Wednesday.

SKC - 2 (Bieler, Kamara)
NYRB - 1 (Steele)

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