Monday, August 26, 2013

Stepping Away From League Play

While Sporting KC is on their third straight road trip, and on the road for the fourth time in the month of August, they have to feel better about tomorrow night's game not being in league play. In MLS play Kansas City has now lost four of their last five league games after their 1-0 loss in Chicago on Friday. Tomorrow they'll step back into continental play when they'll take on Olimpia tomorrow night in Honduras. The two teams are tied a top Group 2 having both won on the road at Real Esteli. KC sits on top by virtue of their two goal win.

Olimpia picked up a 1-0 win last week on the road in Nicaragua, but didn't look extremely good doing it and at times looked lucky to get out of there with a draw. Even with that performance KC can not overlook the Honduran side. They have five players on their team that were just named to the Honduras roster for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers, including starting goalkeeper Noel Valladares. They did recently lose two contributors. Before the CCL even started this year Olimpia lost Alexander Lopez to the Houston Dynamo. More recently, forward Roger Rojas has left the club to go join EPL side, West Ham United on loan. Olimpia has started their season fairly well, going 3-1-1 in all competitions (2-1-1 in league). But all five of those games have been since the 11th of August. So basically Olimpia is playing about once every three days so far this season.

Sporting really needs to begin to find some form again. The league form hasn't been there lately, but they'll be hoping the success against Esteli will continue tomorrow night. Against Chicago on Friday a few of KC's regular forwards got a rest, presumably ahead of Tuesday's game in Honduras. Soony Saad didn't start instead coming off the bench, and Claudio Bieler didn't make an appearance at all. That would lead people to believe that Bieler is going to get minutes tomorrow night. In photos the team posted today, it also looks like Paulo Nagamura will once again be eligible as well. While Nagamura has plenty of people who aren't fans of his, he is one of the most experienced players on KC's roster when it comes to playing south of the United States, having played seven times previously in the CONCACAF Champion's League for MLS teams and has played in Liga Mexico as well.

Jerome - Opara - Collin - Sinovic
Olum - Nagamura
Saad - Bieler - Sapong

Number to Remember - 1 - The first time that Kansas City has played a Honduran side in any international competition. The team also travels to Central America for the third time. Their last trip saw them pick up their first win in Central America.

Key Match Up - Sporting forwards vs Olimpia defense - KC can't afford to really have the offensive issues that they've had the last two league games in the Champions' League. If KC continues the struggles scoring goals they're not going to get out of the group.

PREDICTION - Unless KC gets blown out tomorrow night, there's not a result that really kills KC's chances of advancing. A win or a draw will leave KC in the driver's seat as they head home for their two games in the group stage. I wouldn't expect the same Olimpia that came out against Esteli last week though. I'd expect KC to have a tough time of it. Olimpia as a whole is a much better squad than the Nicaraguans. While a win would be fantastic, I'd take getting a draw and getting the road games out of the way with 4 of 6.

SKC - 1 (Bieler)
OLI - 1 (Lozano)

1 comment:

hartley said...

Would much prefer to see Besler instead of Collin. It's about time the Frenchman had a night off. And I would hope that Benny sits. I would prefer Zusi or at least PJ getting the start. And finally, Dwyer ahead of Bieler. Let's see how Claudio feels about sitting out another or coming on as a late sub.

Go Sporting!